Since 2015, the Invest in San Diego Families coalition has united around the vision of San Diego County as a place where all families thrive, regardless of zip code, race, place of origin, or income.
The COVID-19 pandemic has laid bare how far we still have to go in meeting these goals. It has made clear that we cannot simply move forward with business as usual. We must remake this system to ensure every person – no exceptions – can thrive.
This is a moment where we must stand with and for each other across our differences and against anything and anyone who seeks to divide us.
The Invest in San Diego Families Coalition demands the County of San Diego enact the following measures focusing on immediate relief to build the foundation for recovery.
Join us to call on our Board of Supervisors to take bold steps and actions to ensure all our communities are thriving.
La version en ESPAÑOL de esta carta se encuentra aquí https://investinsdfamilies.org/2020/04/06/covid-19-demandas/
Transparency and Information for All
● Official communications about the COVID-19 outbreak must be provided simultaneously in Spanish, Vietnamese, Somali, Chinese, Tagalog, and other languages spoken in San Diegan households, in addition to English. Press conferences should be shared with subtitles in multiple languages.
● Create a targeted and robust outreach plan, modeled after the census outreach collaboration. The County should hire a team of Community Emergency Resource Ambassadors from census designated hard-to-count communities to provide vulnerable groups vital information.
● All County of San Diego communications about the COVID-19 outbreak must be presented on platforms (social media, television, print media, radio, online, etc.) that are culturally relevant, accessible to people of all generations and delivered by trusted messengers, including youth.
● Provide public no-cost reliable broadband internet access for all.
● Collect and report demographic data on who is being tested for COVID-19, who tests positive and who has died from the virus or complications from the virus. We would like information shared for the following categories: race, gender, ethnicity, disability and whether the individual was an essential worker. Implicit and explicit racism has often historically driven government responses to urgent health situations. Funding disparities in communities of color have led to hospital closures; shortages of frontline doctors and nurses; higher incidences of chronic conditions, such as hypertension, diabetes, and heart disease; housing overcrowding; and lack of quality elder care. Collecting this information will ensure that we understand and track the impact of COVID-19 in our community.
Health Care for All
● No cost testing and treatment centers must be located throughout the county, prioritizing low-income communities, communities with high percentages of confirmed COVID-19 cases and areas with limited access to or smaller health care centers. Testing and treatment must be available to all people, regardless of immigration status.
● Health care facilities should be declared and publicized as safe zones, where no immigration enforcement can take place.
● New Medi-Cal applicants should be presumed eligible and immediately enrolled.
● All San Diegans without health insurance should be fully covered by Medi-Cal (CA funded coverage), including people with substance abuse disorder, regardless of immigration status.
● Health insurance companies should be forbidden from kicking people off their insurance for any reason. Deductibles and copays should be suspended for all care during this crisis.
● No cost counseling and mentoring services, especially for youth, that can be done virtually via phone, text, and/or video.
● Emergency ordinance to stop landlords from evicting tenants from their home.
● Rent and mortgage payments must be frozen for as long as people are impacted by COVID-19. Any rent and mortgage debt accumulated during this period must be forgiven.
● Create a rental assistance program.
● Moratorium on utility shut-offs (including water, gas, electric, internet, and cell phone service), eliminating late fees, and implementing deferred payment plans.
.● Stop ALL eviction filings and prohibit eviction enforcement until the crisis is over.
● Emergency housing for all of the unsheltered population. Housing to be made available:
- Hotels and other existing structures.
- All publicly owned property and vacant housing units – including luxury units.
Food Access for Every San Diegan
● Increase capacity for 2-1-1 to field requests for food assistance.
● Utilize county funds and resources to expand home delivered meals with a particular focus on meals for seniors, individuals who are immune compromised, and rural communities where there is significant need.
- Increase funding for meals on wheels, serving seniors, and other providers to expand those served and ensure our elderly have access to food assistance that is safe from the spread of the virus.
- Actively connect meal providers to expanded networks of transportation
● Provide public health materials (like hand washing stations) for sites across the county serving meals to the community, including schools and senior centers.
● Develop public messaging about public charge and impact on receipt of food assistance.
Protections for Workers
- Implement workplace health and safety measures for all county employees, including hand sanitizer, disposable gloves, and other Personal Protective Equipment, as well as sanitization of workspaces, information and training, and other support for employees.
- Advocate at the state level for unemployment insurance or equivalent aid (food security, rent/mortgage and utility assistance), to be immediately accessible for all workers who have been laid off, had their hours cut, or otherwise cannot work, regardless of employment classification or immigration status.
- Advocate at the state level to expand the amount of UI to 100% of salary for workers earning under $80k per year, during the crisis period.
- County staff should partner with community organizations to provide centralized support to workers during this crisis, to ensure that working people know their rights and are able to get assistance with accessing programs and services
- Require all employers asking for fee waivers, subsidies, etc. and all County contractors to agree to adhere to all new and existing paid sick leave policies, and to recall employees laid off during this crisis before hiring any new employees, for at least 6 months.
- Institute accessible and equitable telecommuting policies for county employees allowing those whose work can be partially or entirely performed outside of a County facility to work remotely with the support necessary to be successful.
- Provide fully paid leave to county employees who are unable to work due to the closure of their workplace, their personal health, and the health and welfare of children and other family members without use of accrued time or being docked pay.
Detention Facilities and Jails
● Prioritize immediate release of people who are most vulnerable. Older adults and those with serious medical conditions and fragility face a higher risk for infection. The conditions that can increase one’s risk of infection include diabetes, heart disease, asthma, lung disease, and HIV.
● Release low-level offenders on their own recognizance that will not pose a serious physical safety risk to the community. Immediate release of anyone within six months of completing their sentence and all individuals charged with an offense that does not involve a serious physical safety risk to the community.
● The DA’s office should decline criminal charges whenever possible and pursue diversion alternatives.
● Provide access to free telephone calls.
● Work with the San Diego County Health and Human Services to provide housing referrals and vouchers for any unsheltered people. Allow persons released to contact their family and/or support system to notify them of their pending release and provide an estimated release time.
● Immediately stop transfers into immigration custody. Stop all voluntary transfers to federal immigration authorities, unless it is pursuant to a judicial warrant or otherwise required by law. This includes custodial transfers and any time the Sheriff turns someone over to immigration authorities in nonpublic areas of their facility or otherwise facilitates that person’s arrest.
● Develop plans to address the virus in a facility as soon as possible. Having an appropriate, evidence-based plan in place can help prevent an outbreak and minimize its impact if one does occur.
● Release Youth in Custody. We support the recommendations issued by the Pacific Juvenile Defense Center to release all youth in custody, including:
- Youth who present little to no public safety threat must be released immediately.
- Immediate release of all pre-adjudication youth.
- For youth in custody awaiting residential placement, immediate release either to a family member, a residential group home, or a different non-custodial setting.
- Suspend detention for new arrests on low-level cases, including all misdemeanors and non-violent felonies.
- All arresting agencies should cite and release all youth who are eligible rather than booking them and potentially introducing COVID-19 into juvenile detention facilities.
If there are youth who remain in custody, we recommend:
● Daily public updates to offer full transparency of steps taken to monitor health, including health checks and tests for those who are showing symptoms.
● For those who must be isolated, treatment that comports with best practices of trauma-informed care and full transparency regarding these steps.
● Decline criminal charges whenever possible and divert to the Health Care Agency, community, and civil court solutions with return date six months from date of alleged incident. For charges not declined, reduce as many as possible to citations or non- warrant, non-arrest charges, with return date six months from date of alleged incident.
● Release all medically fragile adults and adults over the age of 55 in the interest of justice, pursuant to Penal Code Section 1170(d)(1).
● Immediately release anyone within six months of completing their sentence and all individuals charged with an offense that does not involva serious physical safety risk to the community in the interest of justice, pursuant to Penal Code Section 1170(d)(1). This includes technical violations of parole or probation regardless of the underlying offense.
● Immediately implement a pretrial policy that requires all prosecutors to advocate for the pretrial release of all individuals, unless there is clear evidence that release would present an unreasonable risk to the physical safety of the community.
- Provide immediate childcare funding for essential workers, including healthcare and healthcare staff, social services workers, first responders and those in the food supply chain i.e. farmworkers, grocery clerks, food delivery personnel; waive family fees for all subsidized childcare programs and increase subsidized childcare for families earning less than 250% FPL. – Pay providers to cover ongoing and COVID-19 related operating costs while they are closed for public health reasons, or open but with reduced enrollment to serve children of essential workers.- Pay providers to cover ongoing and COVID-19 related operating costs while they are closed for public health reasons, or open but with reduced enrollment to serve children of essential workers.