COVID-19 DEMANDS

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.

Transparency and Information for All

 Official communications about the COVID-19 outbreak must be provided simultaneously  in Spanish, Somali, Vietnamese, 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 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.

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.

New Medi-Cal applicants should be presumed eligible and immediately enrolled.

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.

Free menstrual products available at food distribution centers.

Emergency Housing

Emergency ordinance to stop landlords from evicting tenants from their home.

Stop ALL eviction filings and prohibit eviction enforcement until the crisis is over.

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.

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.

Develop public messaging about public charge and impact on receipt of 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.  

o 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. 

o 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.

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.

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.

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. 

∙ 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.

∙ 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.

Protect & Release People in Detention Facilities & Jails

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.

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.

Provide access to free telephone calls.

Provide coordination with reentry providers. 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.  

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.

Immediate release of all post-adjudication youth being held on technical probation violations.

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.

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 involve a 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.

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