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COVID-19 Frequently Asked Questions


Team Fletcher has compiled questions, answers and links to resources to help you during the novel coronavirus crisis.  We’re here to help! Call our office at (619) 531-5544 or send an email to nathan.fletcher@sdcounty.ca.gov for more information.


Jump to:

Trusted Information Sources
Public Health Orders/Stay at Home Directives
Information for Workers/Employees
Information for Businesses/Employers/Non-Profits
Information for Renters and Homeowners
Information for Restaurants, Grocery Stores and other Public-Facing Businesses
Information about Schools, Families, Homeless and Senior Communities
Information about Mental Health and Domestic Violence During COVID-19
Eviction Moratorium Information for Residents of Unincorporated San Diego County
 

Trusted Information Sources 

Q: Who are the trusted sources of information about COVID-19? 

A: We have compiled several trusted sources with accurate information that you can count on to be updated regularly as developments occur, they are 

County of San Diego

California Department of Public Health

State of California

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

World Health Organization

City of San Diego

 

Q: How can I get information about the latest developments in San Diego County sent directly to me?

A: Text COSD COVID19 to 468-311 to get text alert updates from the County of San Diego. Be sure to put a space between COSD and COVID in your message.   

 

Q: Where do I go to get information about testing, and community resources amid the COVID-19 pandemic?

A: For health or testing related questions, contact your healthcare provider.  For general questions about COVID-19, information about community resources, or if you are uninsured, call 2-1-1 San Diego

To request a free COVID-19 test without a doctor’s referral, visit https://lhi.care/covidtesting to make an appointment. You do not need to be exhibiting symptoms to get a test.

 

Q: How do I watch the County of San Diego’s briefings?

A: The briefings are held on Monday, Wednesday, and Friday at 2:30 p.m.  Several television and radio news outlets having been covering them live, but to ensure you can see the briefings in their entirety, here is some useful information:  

  • Daily briefings are posted and broadcast live on the County of San Diego YouTube Page, click here

  • The County also broadcasts live on its Facebook and Twitter pages. The videos are also posted there as well.

  • On Tuesdays, Thursdays and the weekend, the data is made public on the County’s data site here.

   

Q: Where can I go to volunteer during COVID-19?

A: We have compiled a list of resources for you to consider:

  • If you are a medical professional, visit the San Diego County Medical Society to sign up to volunteer:  http://www.sdcms.org/home.aspx

  • If you want to volunteer, click here

  • If you are interested in donating to the San Diego COVID-19 Community Response Fund, click here.

 

Public Health Orders / Stay at Home Directives

Q: Do I have to stay at home?

A: Everyone needs to stay home except to take care of essential needs or go to an essential job or to exercise outdoors. Practice physical distancing. Keep at least six feet away from other people unless they’re household members. Avoid gatherings of any size. Wear a face covering when you are in public. 

 

Q: What businesses are allowed to be open?  

A:The state has released a Resilience Roadmap allowing certain businesses to reopen with restrictions. Businesses that are open need to complete the County’s Safe Reopening Plan, and print and post it at their entrance. Businesses should also review and refer to the state checklist for their specific industry. More information on the businesses that are allowed to open can be found here

If you believe that a business is operating and is defying the Stay Home Order, please visit https://211sandiego.org/publichealthorder to log a complaint. 

 

Q: How long will the Stay Home Order last?

A: The order went into effect on Thursday, March 19, 2020. The order is in place until further notice, but is periodically modified as we make progress against the virus. 

http://www.covid19.ca.gov

 

Q: Are parks open?

A: Parks that have a physical distancing plan in place are allowed to be open to the public, but must ensure the safety of park employees. The public shall not congregate or participate in active sport activities at a park with the exception of members of a single family or household if authorized pursuant to the Protocol applicable to the park. Any park at which the Protocol requirements cannot be effectively implemented shall close. The County has also authorized local jurisdictions to open parking lots at parks for up to 50% capacity.

 

Q: Are beaches open?

A: All parking lots at public beaches are still closed. Beaches shall be used solely for walking, running, hiking, equestrian or bicycle riding (where allowed). The public shall not congregate or participate in active sport activities at said facilities. Swimming, body surfing, boogie boarding, surfing, kite surfing, paddle boarding, kayaking, snorkeling and scuba diving from the shore may be allowed in the ocean and bays connected thereto. Beaches where physical distancing requirements cannot be effectively implemented shall close. 

 

Q: What other outdoor exercise options are available?

A: Additional steps have been taken to allow recreational boating, golfing, tennis, camping, and rentals of outdoor equipment. Please check for additional information on the County’s website for details and requirements for facilities to operate. Find more information here.

 

Q: What type of face covering should I wear and where should I wear it?

A: DO NOT BUY AN N95 OR SURGICAL MASK. IF YOU HAVE AN N95 MASK PLEASE DONATE IT TO A HOSPITAL AND CONTINUE TO PRACTICE PHYSICAL DISTANCING. 

  • Where do I have to wear a face covering? All persons two year old or older who are present in the county shall have possession of a face covering when they leave their home or place of residence and shall wear the face covering whenever they are in a business or within six feet of another person who is not a member of their family or household. Persons with a medical or mental health condition, or developmental disability that prevents wearing a face covering shall be exempt from this requirement. You also must wear a face covering if you are at work. 

  • Where can I get a face covering? No need to buy a mask! Just use a bandana or scarf you have at home. Here is guidance on how to make your own face covering: https://first5sandiego.org/diy-face-coverings/

 

Information for Workers / Employees 

Q: What are my options if I lose my job, are assigned fewer hours, or get COVID-19 and cannot work?

A: Help exists if you have lost your job, or are struggling because your hours have been reduced. And if you get COVID-19, there are also protections for you.   Below we have compiled a list that we hope will be useful for you. 

  • If you have lost your job, apply for unemployment insurance: https://www.edd.ca.gov/about_edd/coronavirus-2019.htm

  • California’s paid sick leave law provides time off to many workers. You are entitled to use whatever sick leave you have accumulated.

  • In the event of a particularly long illness, you may be eligible for disability benefits, provided your illness is certified by a medical professional.

  • If you were exposed to COVID-19 while on the job and in the course of your regular duties, you may also qualify for workers’ compensation.

  • California law provides for paid family leave, which you may be eligible for if you are providing care for an ill or quarantined family member. You can collect paid family leave for up to six weeks.

  • If you are an independent contractor, sole proprietorship, you may be eligible for Pandemic Unemployment Assistance under the Federal CARES Act. Please click here for resources.
     

Q: Are there funds available to help me pay rent, utilities and get food for my family?

A: Supervisor Nathan Fletcher partnered with the San Diego Foundation to create the San Diego Community Response Fund, which has granted monies to the United Way to create the San Diego Worker Assistance Initiative to help low-wage workers by providing flexible resources for utilities, rent and mortgage payments to individuals impacted by layoffs and reduced working hours implemented by employers. 

 

Information for Businesses / Employers / Non-Profits 

Q: Which businesses are allowed to reopen under the current Public Health Order?

A: Essential businesses are open, including:

  • Grocery stores, farmers markets, food banks, convenience stores

  • Restaurants for take-out, delivery or drive-through

  • Pharmacies

  • Banks

  • Laundromats/laundry

  • Hardware/home improvement stores

  • Airports and public transportation

  • Childcare 

Some businesses can open for curbside service. They include:

  • Bookstores

  • Jewelry stores

  • Toy stores

  • Clothing stores

  • Shoe stores

  • Home and furnishing stores

  • Sporting goods stores

  • Antique stores

  • Music stores

  • Florists

Additional reopenings announced May 12 include: 

  • Office-based businesses (telework is still strongly encouraged)
  • Car washes
  • Pet grooming
  • Landscape gardening
  • Outdoor museums, open gallery spaces

 

Essential government services are still available. Many government agencies have closed public offices but are offering services online, over the phone or other ways. Some County offices are open in person, but please check online first.

All businesses that reopen must complete, print, post and distribute a Safe Reopening Plan, using State retailer guidance and the COVID-19 general retailer checklist to help them fill out the plan. If you are classified as an Essential Business and have been operating, please continue to use the Social Distancing and Sanitation Protocol. Businesses are now required to administer temperature checks and monitor employees for COVID-19 symptoms. 

 

Q: If I am a small business who is now struggling as a result of COVID-19, are there resources to help my business survive this pandemic?

A: Yes, there are several resources available from several different entities, below we have compiled a list that we hope will be useful for you and your business.

  • The City of San Diego has established a Small Business Relief Fund (SBRF) to provide grants and forgivable or low- to zero-interest-rate loans to eligible small businesses for working capital. Click here to learn more and apply for resources.   

  • We have partnered with with the San Diego and Imperial Small Business Development Center (SBDC) Network to assist small business owners with reopening and thriving during the COVID-19 pandemic. We have unveiled a new, one-stop website to provide free, live and on-demand webinars to help small businesses reopen. The SBDC also has a robust guide, including applications, frequently asked questions, and other resources to support businesses.  Click here to learn more.  

  • To sign-up for business counseling offered by the Small Business Development Center, click here

  • The Small Business Administration has a disaster loan fund, click here to learn more and apply. 

  • The San Diego County COVID-19 Small Business and Nonprofit Loan Program (SBNLP) will open for applications by June. Cities, government agencies, philanthropic organizations, and corporations that want to loan or grant funding through this program can visit www.SanDiegoSBNLP.org

 

Information for Renters and Homeowners 

Q: With the order in place do I need to pay my state and federal taxes? 

A: State and federal deadlines have been extended to July 15.  

 

Q: Can I be evicted from my apartment if I cannot pay the rent?

A: Supervisor Nathan Fletcher introduced, and the Board of Supervisors passed a resolution to stop evictions, and foreclosure in the unincorporated areas of the County, click here to learn more.  In the City of San Diego, the City Council passed a similar rule that is in effect through June 30, click here to learn more.  

 

Q: What if I am having trouble paying my mortgage because of COVID-19?

A: Governor Gavin Newsom recently announced that financial institutions will provide major financial relief for millions of Californians suffering financially as a result of the COVID-19 outbreak. Click here to learn more and apply for relief. 

 

Q: I need help paying my utility bill.

A: SDG&E’s direct assistance programs can help people experiencing financial hardships due to COVID-19. Many may qualify for SDG&E assistance programs and bill discount programs. Those programs are available at https://www.sdge.com/residential/pay-bill/get-payment-bill-assistance/assistance-programs.

 

Information for Restaurants, Grocery Stores and Other Public-Facing Businesses

Q: The Social Distancing and Sanitation Protocol requires “Hand sanitizer, soap and water, or effective disinfectant is available to the public at or near the entrance of the facility, at checkout counters, and anywhere else inside the store or immediately outside where people have direct interactions.” I do not have enough hand sanitizer for the public and my distributor is sold out, what can I do?

A: To comply, restaurants and markets can provide public access to restrooms, which have soap and water to wash their hands. DEH recommends posting a sign at the front entrance that indicates where the restrooms are located and encourages the public to wash their hands. Additionally, restrooms should undergo increased cleaning and disinfection.

 

Q: My establishment has face masks on order, but they will not arrive until next week, can we have an extension on the order for employees to wear face coverings?

A: Face coverings, not face masks, must be worn by all employees who may have contact with the public in any grocery store, pharmacy/drug store, convenience store, gas station, restaurant, and when making a delivery to a customer. A face covering is something made of cloth that covers the nose and mouth of an employee. Face coverings can be items that you already have at home, such as a face tube or bandana, or can be home made. Face masks are in limited supply and should be preserved for the use of healthcare workers.

 

Q: I’m concerned that my staff will touch their face more frequently or contaminate their face covering.  How can this be addressed?

A:  Encourage staff to bring an extra face covering with them to switch to if one becomes contaminated. Ensure the face covering fits snugly so it does not fall down, but allows staff to breathe. Monitor staff to ensure they are taking frequent water breaks and washing their hands before and after touching their face covering.

 

Q: If I install a plexi-glass barrier at my register, do my staff still need to wear a face covering?

A:  All staff that have contact with the public must wear a cloth face covering.

 

Q: Do my back of the house or kitchen staff need to wear face coverings?

A: Only staff that have contact with the public must wear a cloth face covering.

 

Information about Schools, Families, Homeless and Senior Communities 

Q: Where should parents go to get the latest information about what is happening with their child’s school?

A: Details about directives around schools can be found at their respective websites.  Click here for information about the San Diego Unified School District, or click here for the County Office of Education.   Guidance for San Diego Unified students and parents on distance learning can be found here: https://www.sandiegounified.org/newscenter/node/2247

 

Q: What restrictions are in place for childcare facilities?

A: On May 5, we amended our Public Health Order on childcare to raise the number of children allowed in childcare groups with one adult to 12 children. Childcare facilities may now resume shared use of hard-surface common areas such as kitchens and bathrooms, as long as these areas are frequently cleaned and disinfected.

 

Q: I would like to sign up for emergency childcare. 

A: A: To apply go to:  www.sandiegoforeverychild.org/covid19/

For questions go to: www.childcareresourceservice@ymca.org

 

Q: Will my benefits for Medi-Cal, CalWORKS, CalFresh and General Relief Benefits continue?

A: Yes payments for current customers will continue uninterrupted through April, May and June and certain paperwork is deferred until further notice. Customers can call the Access Customer Service Center at 1-866-262-9881 with click.  Click here for more information. 

 

Q: What should seniors know about this crisis? 

A: Older adults, 65 years and older, are at higher risk for severe illness and should stay at home. The County of San Diego serves 9,770 low income seniors age 60 and older with our Senior Nutrition Program provided through the Older Americans Act. Congregate meal clients are now receiving meals by home delivery through our contracts to comply with all orders and physical distancing.  If seniors or their families members and providers are looking for information, here are some useful resources 

  • All seniors in our community can reach out to the Aging and Independence Services Call Center (1-800-339-4661) and 2-1-1.  

  • To sign up for the Great Plates Delivered program, call (800) 339-4661 and select option 7 or click here to apply. 

  • Click here for info about the San Diego Food Bank’s senior food program.

  • Click here for info about the San Diego County Meals on Wheels program.

 

Q:What is the County doing to protect the homeless community?

A: Supervisor Nathan Fletcher, and the County of San Diego is working with regional homeless service providers, the Regional Task Force on the Homeless and the City of San Diego to help unsheltered people. The action taken to take include:    

  • Placing hand washing stations throughout the County, including in unincorporated areas.  To see the up-to-date list, please click here for our interactive map of locations.

  • Deployed public health nurses to shelters across the county.

  • Assembling and distributing hygiene kits with information, soap, sanitizer and other useful resources for the unsheltered. 

  • Public Health Nurses are also going out with Homeless Outreach Teams.

  • The County is placing porta-potties at locations near homeless encampments countywide. 

  • The County of San Diego has established an aggressive effort to procure hotel rooms. 

    • The County of San Diego has secured hotel and motel rooms; allocated rooms to the Regional Task Force on the Homeless for non-Symptomatic homeless who are seniors, have underlying health conditions, or families.   

    • It is important to note the Public Health Rooms are for individuals who have a positive test, are a person under investigation or a person with symptoms awaiting further evaluation who can NOT be isolated at home. 

       

Information about Mental Health & Domestic Violence During COVID-19 

Q: Do you have any recommendations for how to maintain positive mental health as this coronavirus crisis is happening?

A: Click here to read this useful guide from the County of San Diego Behavioral Health team. Other useful resources include the following:   

  • San Diego County Behavioral Health Access and Crisis Line provides free and confidential immediate support and resources from an experienced counselor 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. Call 1-888-724-7240.

  • Substance Abuse & Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) will help you connect to available local resources and treatment centers. Call 1-800-662-4357.

  • The Trevor Project is the leading national organization providing crisis intervention and suicide prevention services to lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer and questioning (LGBTQ) young people under 25. Call  1-866-488-7386 or text START to 678678.

  • Parental Stress Helpline provides crisis management, support services, and will help you identify local resources. Call 1-800-632-8188.

  • Disaster Distress Line supports people experiencing emotional distress related to natural or human-caused disasters. Call 1-800-985-5990.

  • National Suicide Prevention Lifeline provides free and confidential support and prevention and crisis resources 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. Call 1-800-273-8255.

  • Veterans Crisis Hotline connects veterans and their family and friends with qualified Department of Veterans Affairs responders through a confidential hotline. Text 838255 or call 1-800-273-8255 and Press 1.

 

Q: What happens if I am going through a domestic violence situation during COVID-19?  

A:  The County of San Diego Office of Violence Prevention offers multiple ways for victims of domestic violence to find support, including safety planning, hotlines and resources for youth and elders. Several 24 hour hotlines have been established to give callers the opportunity to speak with trained domestic violence advocates, who can help create safety plans and talk through other options for support.

In extreme cases where victims feel they are in immediate danger, there are five leading shelter organizations in San Diego County that offer anywhere from 30 to 60 day stays, including:


Eviction Moratorium For Residents of the Unincorporated Areas of San Diego County

If you are a tenant in the unincorporated area of San Diego County, the following information can help protect you with the County’s eviction moratorium which was brought forward by Supervisor Fletcher on March 24 and approved by the Board.

If you live in the City of San Diego, here is a link that can provide you with information: https://www.sdhc.org/about-us/coronavirus-covid-19/citys-eviction-ban/

If you need further assistance, please contact Legal Aid at 877-LEGAL-AID (877-534-2524).

 

Q: Who is an “eligible tenant” protected by an emergency eviction moratorium?

A: Eligible residential and commercial tenants include those whose income and ability to pay rent have been substantially affected by the COVID-19 pandemic. You may be protected by an emergency eviction moratorium if you have experienced any of the following (this is not a complete list):

  • Loss of employment due to COVID-19;

  • Loss of employment due to diagnosis of COVID-19 or recommended quarantine;

  • Loss or substantial reduction (30% or greater reduction in salary or hourly wages for City of San Diego) in employment due to a loss of child care due to school closure;

  • Loss of employment resulting from need to care for a family member suffering from COVID-19;

  • Loss of income due to state/local requirement requiring those 65 and over to stay indoors;

  • Compliance with an order from a government health authority to stay home, self-quarantine or avoid congregation with others during the state of emergency;

  • Compliance with other federal, state or local COVID-19 mandate precluding the tenant from earning their normal income;

  • Incurred substantial medical costs related to COVID-19.

If your income or ability to pay rent has been affected by the COVID-19 pandemic, you must notify your landlord and provide documentation demonstrating the relationship between your inability to pay rent and COVID-19. Failure to give timely notice waives the protections under the eviction moratorium.

Please be aware that most of the emergency eviction moratoriums do not provide protection for all nonpayment of rent — the inability to pay rent must be related to or a result of the COVID-19 pandemic or any governmental response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

 

Q: I lost income as a result of COVID-19. When and how do I inform my landlord that I am unable to pay my rent?

A: You must inform your landlord in writing on or by the day your rent is due that you are unable to pay the rent due to a COVID-19 related issue and provide supporting documentation within seven (7) days of providing notice.

A downloadable letter can be found here. 

FAILURE TO PROVIDE NOTICE OR DOCUMENTATION WITHIN THE REQUIRED DAYS WAIVES THE PROTECTIONS OF THE EVICTION MORATORIUM.

NOTICE MUST BE PROVIDED EACH MONTH YOU ARE NOT ABLE TO PAY RENT BECAUSE OF COVID-19.

 

Q: What kind of documentation do I need to provide my landlord to demonstrate that I cannot pay the rent as a result of COVID-19, and when do I need to provide it?

A: An eligible tenant, commercial and residential, must provide supporting documentation to show they cannot pay the amount of rent due because they were impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic.  You must provide this information in writing or by email, or however you normally contact your landlord, within 7 days of the date rent was due. Start collecting this documentation early! You need to provide it to your landlord as soon as possible, and will need to provide additional documentation later on if you need more time to pay your rent.

Acceptable documentation may include, but is not limited to:

  • Letter or note from your job stating that you have been laid off, that your hours have been reduced, or that your place of business is closed due to COVID-19;

  • Letter or text message from your child’s school/pre-school/daycare regarding closures;

  • Text message or email from your employer asking you not to come to work;

  • Photo showing your place of employment is closed due to COVID-19;

  • Screenshots from Uber, Lyft, Instacart, DoorDash, etc. applications showing that you have experienced reduced income;

  • Pay stubs or copies of paychecks for a few months showing that your income has been reduced;

  • Medical documentation related to COVID-19;

  • Receipts for medical costs related to COVID-19;

  • A signed declaration under penalty of perjury certifying the reason why you have experienced a reduced income or difficulty paying your rent as a result of COVID-19 or the governmental response to COVID-19.

The law requires that any medical or financial information provided to a landlord must be kept confidential and only used for the sole purpose of evaluating the tenant’s claim for eligibility under the emergency eviction moratorium.

 

Q: If I am an eligible tenant, do I still have to pay my rent?

A: Yes. An emergency eviction moratorium does not relieve you of your responsibility to pay rent. If you are able to pay some portion of your rent, you must pay whatever amount you can (this amount will not be considered a “delayed payment”).

On June 1, 2020 an eligible tenant has three months (until September 1, 2020) to repay the rent owed before the landlord may recover possession of the premises due to missed rent payments. If the tenant remains unable to pay rent due to COVID-19, the tenant may provide the landlord with another notice and documentation pursuant to extend payment date by one additional month.

 

Q: Can my landlord charge me late fees or interest?

A: No, your landlord cannot charge you late fees for rental payments that fall within the terms of the County’s regulation. 

 

Q: What relief is available for landlords who cannot pay their mortgage?

A: On March 16, 2020, Governor Newsom signed Executive Order N-28-20 directing mortgage lenders to implement an immediate moratorium on foreclosures due to a borrower’s inability to pay as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. This moratorium will last until May 31, 2020. If you find yourself unable to pay your mortgage due to COVID-19, immediately contact your servicer. Your servicer will likely be unaware of Governor Newsom’s Executive Order. Immediately fax or email the Order to them highlighting paragraph 5 of the Order. Make sure you retain any documentation showing your inability to pay due to COVID-19. The ongoing pandemic is fluid and changes every day. Governor Newsom may issue additional Executive Orders to provide further clarification.

At the same time, the Governor announced that the following banks have agreed to defer mortgage payments for 90 days for those impacted by COVID-19:

  • Citigroup;

  • JP Morgan Chase;

  • US Bank;

  • Wells Fargo; and

  • Over 200 state chartered banks and credit unions.

These banks have also agreed to waive and reverse any late fees as well as other fees including early CD withdrawal fees.

There are to be no new foreclosure sales or evictions at least through May 31, 2020.

There are also no credit score changes for accessing this relief.

 

Q: If I live in a garage, rent a room or live in an illegal rental unit does this emergency eviction moratorium protect me?

A: Yes. The emergency eviction moratorium applies to every residential tenant regardless of the type of unit they live in or how long they have lived there. If you need more detailed information, please call Legal Aid at 877-LEGAL-AID (877-534-2524).

 

Q: What do I do if my landlord violates the emergency eviction moratorium and tries to evict me?

A: If this happens, there is help available. Legal Aid  is one such resource and can be reached at 877-LEGAL-AID (877-534-2524).

If your landlord has served you with an eviction notice or initiated eviction proceedings against you, please contact us right away at 877-LEGAL-AID (877-534-2524).