San Diego’s mayor joins other lawmakers in pleading to end COVID restrictions at the US-Mexico border, which they say are hurting the local economy

A man with a bike and a woman with a mask walk in front of San Ysidro port of entry
San Ysidro port of entry in San Diego.

  • Southern California lawmakers called for Homeland Security to end pandemic border restrictions.
  • Last Sunday, the department extended COVID-19 restrictions through July 21.
  • San Diego’s mayor said he saw no reason to continue restrictions when COVID cases were plummeting.

A group of southern California lawmakers, including San Diego’s mayor, called for an end to pandemic restrictions along the border with Mexico as part of an effort to boost the local economy.

“As the rate of COVID-19 cases continue to plummet, and other restrictions have been lifted, I see no reason to continue selective restrictions that impact our cross-border community,” mayor Todd Gloria said in a press release.

The border has been closed to non-essential travel since March 2020. The Dept. of Homeland Security last Sunday extended through July 21 those restrictions for all land or ferry crossings into the US.

San Diego’s San Ysidro district, which touches the border, saw retail sales drop to $250 million in the 12 months ending in March, according to the local chamber of commerce. That was down from nearly $900 million in the same year-earlier period, the chamber’s Juan Miguel Hornedo told San Diego Red.

About 200 businesses in San Ysidro closed last year, he said.

“Over the last year, we’ve lost 1,900 jobs. Those are 1,900 families that counted on their jobs to feed their children that no longer have that option,” the chamber’s Jason Wells told San Diego’s KGTV last week.

Non-essential travel to Canada and Mexico will continue to be restricted, while “ensuring access for essential trade & travel,” Homeland Security said on Twitter. But the department also said it had seen “positive developments” that might lead to easing restrictions.

“I welcome this note of hope but every day legal border crossings are limited is extremely harmful to San Diego’s economy and the small businesses that power it,” Gloria responded.

San Diego supervisor Nora Vargas said: “Any delay only exacerbates the impacts of the pandemic.”

Read the original article on Business Insider

The 11 best hotels in San Diego for couples, families, business travelers, luxury, and more

If you buy through our links, we may earn money from affiliate partners. Learn more.

Fairmont Grand Del Mar  Trip Advisor
  • San Diego is home to beaches, a military base, a world-famous zoo, and many outdoor activities.
  • From urban towers with water views to beachfront resorts, we vetted the city’s best hotels.
  • Our picks are based on our own reviews and offer great amenities for a Southern California getaway.

With picturesque beach resorts, contemporary downtown hotels, and intimate Spanish-inspired bungalows, San Diego’s hotels are as varied and exciting as the city itself. Whether your visit is for business, golf, world-class spas, the beach, or, of course, Comic Con, there’s a hotel that will meet your needs.

To highlight the hotels in San Diego that truly shine, we made selections based on our own expert hotel reviews and experiences on-property, and also set discerning criteria to determine the very best hotels in the city. Though, if you prefer a vacation rental, we’ve got you covered too.

Whenever your travels next take you to San Diego, consult our list of the best hotels, from Coronado Bay to downtown, and Rancho Santa Fe.

Browse all the best hotels in San Diego below, or jump directly to a specific area here:

Here are the best hotels in San Diego, sorted by price from low to high.

Kimpton Hotel Palomar San Diego

Kimpton Palomar San Diego - Hotel Review

Book Kimpton Hotel Palomar San Diego

This bang-on-trend property in the heart of San Diego’s buzzing Gaslamp district is popular with younger travelers who appreciate the look and feel that’s equal parts trendy and modern and comes with perks like complimentary wine at check-in. 

There are 211 rooms set over 20 stories, with the top four floors reserved for Skyline Collection rooms which have expansive views of San Diego and touches like surfboard headboards, upcycled light fixtures, and shibori curtains. Every room is design-forward with crisp white linens and Atelier Bloem bath products and is stocked with useful extras like yoga mats and umbrellas. There’s also a posh rooftop pool, an on-site Mexican eatery that specializes in elevated street fare, and a pet-friendly attitude that treats your dogs like VIPs.

COVID-19 procedures are available here.

Read our full hotel review of Kimpton Hotel Palomar San Diego

The Guild Hotel San Diego, A Tribute Portfolio Hotel

The Guild San Diego: Hotel Review

Book The Guild Hotel San Diego, A Tribute Portfolio Hotel

In downtown San Diego, there are many corporate big-box hotels, and it can be hard to find a middle ground between modern and intimate and a reasonable price point. Enter the Guild San Diego, a Tribute Portfolio Hotel from Marriott Bonvoy. The hotel is a newer addition to the downtown scene, housed in a century-old Armed Services YMCA. Yet rather than erasing the building’s past, the owners lovingly embraced its former life in an effort to honor San Diego’s rich maritime heritage.

Ornate, Italian Renaissance Revival exteriors were preserved, while run-down dormitory-style interiors were transformed into a sleek lobby. Well-appointed rooms feel cozy but upscale with modern velvet furnishings. But the standout is a tranquil but glam pale pink courtyard and urban garden that feels like you’ve been transported to the south of France.

COVID-19 procedures are available here.

Read our full hotel review of The Guild San Diego

InterContinental San Diego

Intercontinental SD   Kai Oliver Kurtin_Business Insider

Book InterContinental San Diego

Located on the historic grounds of Lane Field (the former baseball stadium for the San Diego Padres) and part of IHG hotels, the InterContinental’s downtown waterfront location offers a prime vantage point of the San Diego Bay and is a close walk from the Embarcadero, where the USS Midway Museum, Broadway Pier, and cruise ship terminals are located.

Housing 400 guest rooms over 19 stories, InterContinental San Diego is a mass of oversized windows overlooking the water with rooms that are above average in size and generally very affordable in price. Since the real draw here is the bay, splurging on a room that overlooks industrial buildings wouldn’t sit right — spring for a water view. There are also spacious two-room suites, ideal for families.

COVID-19 procedures are available here.

Read our full hotel review of InterContinental San Diego

Manchester Grand Hyatt San Diego

Manchester Grand Hyatt Hotel Review

Book Manchester Grand Hyatt San Diego

While there are cheaper downtown options in San Diego, the Manchester Grand Hyatt consistently delivers on a high level of sophistication alongside friendly staff, plenty of on-site dining, and a central waterfront location that makes it easy to explore the city and savor the sunset. 

With 1,628 guestrooms, including 76 suites, the hotel is huge but not impossible to manage. Rates are accessible in price too, if you’re not specific about which incredible view you receive. And there isn’t a bad one; all rooms overlook either the Pacific Ocean, San Diego Bay, or downtown city area.

The hotel earns added appeal as the West Coast’s tallest waterfront hotel and is just steps from attractions like the Gaslamp Quarter, the USS Midway, and San Diego’s scenic Embarcadero. 

COVID-19 procedures are available here.

Read our full hotel review of Manchester Grand Hyatt San Diego

Pacific Terrace Hotel

Pacific Terrace Hotel   Trip Advisor

Book Pacific Terrace Hotel

Directly facing the ocean at the end of the Pacific Beach boardwalk, this beachy hotel’s waterfront location is gorgeous. There are 73 rooms and suites outfitted with rich wood furnishings, plantation shutters, and bright pops of turquoise for a tropical island feel. Book a room with an ocean view and watch as San Diego strolls, runs, bikes, and rollerblades by, and surfers catch early morning waves. 

If you can’t choose between pool or ocean, know that the former directly faces the sand for a best-of-both-worlds lounging option. Beach buckets and shovels, toys, boogie boards, and bikes are all available for guests’ use, and the hotel is well-located close to attractions such as the San Diego Zoo, Torrey Pines State Beach, Belmont Park, Crystal Pier, and is just eight miles north of San Diego’s International Airport.

COVID-19 procedures are available here.

Loews Coronado Bay Resort

Loews Coronado Bay Resort 10

Book Loews Coronado Bay Resort

Coronado might be synonymous with the famous Hotel Del Coronado, but for a cheaper beach resort getaway, the Loews Coronado Bay Resort is a solid option without compromising on comfort or style. 

Situated at the end of a private 15-acre peninsula, Loews Coronado offers a hip but relaxed vibe with a luxury lean, as well as excellent hotel grounds, amenities, and scenic 360-degree bay views.

Though beach access is located across a highway and requires a free hotel shuttle, there’s plenty to enjoy on-site including the large pool deck with reserved space for both adults and kids, a spa, and a terrace bar with ample views. It’s also a bit quieter than Hotel Del, surrounded by natural elements and removed from the city bustle. Rooms are chic and in line with the high-end Loews brand.

COVID-19 procedures are available here.

Read our full hotel review of Loews Coronado Bay Resort

The US Grant, a Luxury Collection Hotel

US Grant   Trip Advisor

Book The US Grant, a Luxury Collection Hotel

Once a presidential palace dating back to 1910, The historic US Grant is a posh hotel that’s also earned a spot on the National Register of Historic Places. The 11-story building was built by the son of Ulysses S. Grant, who named it after his father. 

But it’s far from old and stuffy. Now operating as a luxury hotel, the interiors are magnificent, with large chandeliers, impressive columns, and artifacts on display that speak to the city’s history.

There are 270 high-end rooms and suites for an upscale experience not commonly replicated in the city. The hotel is also well-located downtown near Balboa Park, the waterfront area, San Diego Zoo, and Petco Park. Luxury Collection hotels are also members of Marriott Bonvoy, offering a good opportunity to earn and redeem points.

COVID-19 procedures are available here.

Hotel Del Coronado, Curio Collection by Hilton

Hotel Del Coronado - Hotel Review

Book Hotel Del Coronado

Located just five miles from downtown San Diego, the Hotel del Coronado is a historic hotel and landmark that has hosted US presidents, royalty, and movie stars for decades. If the Victorian-style resort looks especially familiar, that’s because it’s the direct inspiration for Walt Disney World’s Grand Floridian Resort.

Affectionately dubbed The Del or Hotel Del, the sprawling beachfront resort counts 28-acres and 757 rooms and suites spread throughout the massive original Victorian building, as well as a contemporary oceanfront tower, poolside cabanas, and luxury beach cottages and villas.  

The main building showcases a variety of antique details such as a vintage iron elevator that requires an operator, while the oceanfront towers, cabanas, cottages, and villas each have their own vibe, and tends to be more modern and beachy. The beach is also a draw (and attracts crowds too as it is public) with on-site water sports rentals and wellness classes.

COVID-19 procedures are available here.

Read our full hotel review of Hotel Del Coronado

The Inn at Rancho Santa Fe

Inn at Rancho Santa Fe   Marriott Bonvoy

Book The Inn at Rancho Santa Fe

Set on 21 landscaped acres just a short drive outside of downtown San Diego, The Inn at Rancho Santa Fe, A Tribute Portfolio Resort & Spa is an enticing option when you want to stay near San Diego, but not in the thick of it.

This calming boutique escape is a member of Marriott Bonvoy and feels like a Mediterranean-inspired bungalow with red-tiled roofs, mosaic details, Spanish-Californian architecture, and bubbling fountains. Swaying palms, leafy green trees, and tall cacti add color to the well-kept grounds.

Even starter Queen rooms are large with 325 square feet, sleek bathrooms, and peaceful terraces overlooking the hotel’s polished spaces. The design is rustic but contemporary, which creates a cozy, welcoming feel, especially if you upgrade to a room with a fireplace. 

COVID-19 procedures are available here.

Fairmont Grand Del Mar

Fairmont Grand Del Mar  Trip Advisor

Book the Fairmont Grand Del Mar

You might feel like you slipped away to the Spanish countryside when you first enter this sprawling five-star luxury golf and spa hideaway.

Housed on a lush 400-acre setting with Mediterranean tile work, the Fairmont Grand Del Mar feels pristine with arched windows, curved staircases, and a rose-tinted facade that resembles a European palace. And the level of sophistication is sincere; the hotel is operated by the same team behind the ultra-high-end Plaza Hotel in New York City.

There are 249 large, well-appointed rooms and suites, though you’ll likely spend most of your time wandering the well-kept gardens or taking a dip in one (or all) of the four pools. For a bit more activity, the resort is just a few miles from the beach, and there is also an 18-hole private golf club designed by Tom Fazio, and activities such as art classes, tennis lessons, yoga, cooking classes, and more. Fairmont Grand Del Mar earned the distinction as a Forbes Five-Star and AAA Five Diamond luxury resort and also boasts a spa, kids club, nightlife, and dining.

COVID-19 procedures are available here.

Park Hyatt Aviara Resort, Golf Club & Spa

Park Aviara   Maribeth Mellin_Business Insider

Book Park Hyatt Aviara Resort, Golf Club & Spa

For something more sedate than the crowded beach, or quieter than the noisy downtown area, head inland to the Park Hyatt Aviara Resort’s 200-acre estate in Carlsbad. The hotel overlooks golf greens, a wildlife sanctuary, and provides ample views of the distant ocean. The sense is overwhelmingly tranquil, with well-kept common places to kick back after a few laps in the lavish pools.

A recent renovation promises this hotel is only going to become more grandiose, with comfortable, well-appointed rooms, and newly revamped pool and common areas. 

COVID-19 procedures are available here.

Read our full hotel review of Park Hyatt Aviara Resort, Golf Club & Spa

Our methodology for selecting hotels

In addition to the numbered criteria previously outlined above, we considered these factors:

Price: We looked for starting room rates in low season under $600 per night.

First-hand reviews: We visited and stayed at many of the hotels on this list. Those we didn’t came highly recommended and only were included based on our criteria and research.

Guests: We chose the best hotels in San Diego for a wide audience, including first-time visitors, families, couples, business travelers, friends, and more.

Amenities: We looked for San Diego hotels that boast comfortable, well-appointed rooms, central locations, beach access, excellent pool facilities, well-regarded restaurants and bars, and other guest perks.

Reviews: We consulted reviews and ratings on sites such as Trip Advisor,,, and others to compare the experiences of other guests.

COVID-19 safety: We selected hotels that prioritize the health and safety of guests with new strict new cleaning policies in light of COVID-19.

FAQ: San Diego hotels

sonder San Diego balcony

Is it safe to stay in a hotel?

According to the CDC, fully vaccinated people can safely travel domestically.

Hotels are open during COVID-19 and while you’re more likely to encounter other people in common spaces such as lobbies, check-in desks, restaurants, and pools, experts say that with added caution, it is safe to stay in a hotel

We also recommend following CDC guidelines and wearing a mask in public, using hand sanitizer, and following social distancing.

Where should I stay in San Diego?

That depends on what you want to do! Stay downtown in neighborhoods like the Gaslamp Quarter, Little Italy, or Embarcadero if you want to sightsee with a central, urban base.

If you plan to spend most of your time on the sand, look to coastal communities in Pacific Beach, Ocean Beach, La Jolla, or Del Mar. Drive 25 miles up the 101 and you’ll find yourself in popular beach towns like Cardiff and Encinitas.

Or, for a beach base with easy access to downtown, consider Coronado Island. 

If you want to revolve your trip around theme parks and attractions, you should consider a hotel’s proximity to places like the San Diego Zoo or Legoland in Carlsbad.

What is there to do in San Diego?

San Diego has a little bit of everything with a robust city center, military base, rich history, and beautiful beaches.

Watch surfers, take a dip in the ocean, take advantage of the nightlife in Gaslamp, stroll around Coronado Island, or check out the seals in La Jolla. There is also a major sports stadium, the San Diego Zoo, and beautiful parks such as Torrey Pines. 

What is the best time to visit San Diego?

San Diego enjoys warm temperatures and sunny weather for most of the year. As such, there isn’t a major off season when prices change dramatically. For nice, mild weather, consider a winter visit. However, when temps soar in summer, you might just see cheaper hotel prices.

More of the best hotels in California

Figueroa Los Angeles Hotel Review
Read the original article on Business Insider

California healthcare workers didn’t know they were fighting a new variant this winter. Their trauma should be a warning.

coronavirus covid hospital chaplain patient intubated
Chaplain Kevin Deegan places his hand on the head of a COVID-19 patient while praying for him at Providence Holy Cross Medical Center in Los Angeles on January 9, 2021.

  • Southern California’s winter surge of COVID-19 infections overwhelmed hospitals.
  • A new variant of the virus became dominant there, which may have partially spurred the surge.
  • Four healthcare workers in San Diego and Los Angeles share their stories from the winter.
  • Visit the Business section of Insider for more stories.

Shawna Blackmun-Myers grasped her patient’s hand, called the woman’s family, and held up the phone. As everyone said their goodbyes on the other end, the patient couldn’t respond: A tube down her throat was feeding oxygen from a ventilator into her lungs.

Blackmun-Myers, an ICU nurse at the Jacobs Medical Center in San Diego, told Insider that the woman was in her 50s and had been bubbly when she came in weeks earlier. Normally in the ICU, Blackmun-Myers said, “people are so sick that that energy and that light is dimmed, but even her being in that situation, she was still just such a bright light.”

“We were dancing and listening to music, and we were watching some soap opera drama stuff on TV and, you know, talking tea about everybody,” she added.

But the woman’s condition worsened quickly. Hospital staff readied a ventilator.

“She’s crying and telling me, you know, ‘I just don’t want to be alone. And I just know that once this tube goes in, I don’t think it’s coming out. I think this is going to be it,'” Blackmun-Myers said.

“I did my best to let her know, you know, obviously she’s not alone. I was there with her. I had her back,” she added.

Then the virus brought heart and kidney problems. The woman went on dialysis. Eventually, there was nothing more the hospital could do to restore her quality of life, and her family knew she wouldn’t want to live this way.

In January, Blackmun-Myers oversaw the woman’s death as hospital staff disconnected the ventilator. The sound of crying family members echoed through the phone.

coronavirus covid patient death hospital chaplain healthcare worker
Chaplain Kristin Michealsen holds the hand of a deceased COVID-19 patient while talking on the phone with the patient’s family member at Providence Holy Cross Medical Center in Los Angeles on January 9, 2021.

It was the middle of winter in Southern California. Coronavirus cases were at an all-time high, and ICUs were above 90% capacity. Blackmun-Myers’s unit was losing multiple patients every day.

“I ugly-cry, and then I get angry, and I accept the fact that I did everything I could,” she said. “And just move on so I can take care of the next person and their family.”

Blackmun-Myers didn’t know it at the time, but a new coronavirus variant had been overtaking the region.

The CAL.20C variant was first identified in Los Angeles in July, then disappeared from the record until October. But by January, it accounted for 44% of Southern California coronavirus samples in one study, and more than half of California samples in another.

Several other factors contributed to Southern California’s winter surge – holiday travel, crowded housing, pandemic fatigue – but many researchers think the variant played a role.

Two studies that aren’t yet peer-reviewed suggest that the variant is more infectious than the original virus strain. The research also found it to be associated with a higher incidence of severe illness and partially resistant to antibodies developed in response to the original virus or vaccines.

Although California cases have dropped from a peak of about 40,700 per day in late December to about 4,000 now, experts warn that CAL.20C or other variants could still change the course of the pandemic.

“Now is not the time to relax the critical safeguards that we know can stop the spread of COVID-19 in our communities,” Dr. Rochelle Walensky, the CDC director, said at a White House briefing last week.

“Please hear me clearly,” she added. “At this level of cases, with variants spreading, we stand to completely lose the hard-earned ground we have gained.”

Blackmun-Myers and three other Southern California healthcare workers say what they saw this winter should serve as a strong warning.

Struggling to be heard

Kristine Chieh nurse hospital face
Kristine Chieh during a COVID-19 shift, with marks on her face from wearing protective gear.

The ICU was loud. Given the influx of coronavirus patients, the Sharp hospital network in San Diego had to jerry-rig negative-pressure systems to prevent virus particles from wafting out of patients’ rooms. The makeshift tubing roared overhead, so nurse Kristine Chieh had to yell over it – and through several layers of PPE – for patients to hear her.

Chieh isn’t normally an ICU nurse, but in January, the COVID floors needed all the help they could get. Two days before her first ICU shift, Chieh’s friend, a man in his late 40s, died from COVID-19 after more than two weeks in the hospital.

“I walked through the ICU, looking at the windows, and I swear I see my friend over and over and over again in those beds,” she said.

Chieh recalled stopping to help a man video chat with his family. A mask covered his face, pumping oxygen from a BiPap machine. Chieh lifted the mask for short intervals so he could speak to his family. After a few seconds, he would run out of breath, and Chieh would put the mask back down. Family members would speak up to fill the silence.

“There’s all kinds of people on that iPad, like he must have a large family,” Chieh said. “They thought it was so awesome to be able to hear his voice, and I think he was really excited to use his voice.”

bipap machine covid patient coronavirus hospital healthcare breathing mask oxygen
A healthcare worker places a BiPAP machine on a COVID-19 patient at United Memorial Medical Center in Houston, Texas, December 28, 2020.

She spent about half an hour like that, lifting and lowering the mask.

“The other ICU nurse was in the process of intubating somebody at the same time that this is happening, so there’s no way she would have been able to do that for him,” Chieh said. “I clocked out for the day and I don’t know what ever happened to him, long term. Hopefully he made it out okay.”

‘It almost overtook my vocabulary and my mind’

Chieh works as a float nurse across three locations in the Sharp hospital network, going wherever she’s needed. Typically, she works in progressive care units – the level before intensive care. But during the winter, even the COVID-19 patients there were severely ill. Chieh would dash from room to room, changing in and out of protective gear to help patients who suddenly found themselves struggling to breathe.

“Throughout my shift, I’ll get patients who are off and on just being like, ‘I can’t breathe, I can’t breathe.’ And then I go in and I do breathing exercises with them. I adjust their oxygen. I have the respiratory therapist come in, do breathing treatments, whatever is needed,” Chieh said.

They would calm down and be fine for about an hour, she said, before it happened again.

kristine chieh covid ppe hospital
Kristine Chieh, in full PPE, stands in front of a negative-pressure room for COVID-19 patients.

Robert Bang, a floor nurse in Los Angeles, spent his winter days the same way. Alarms were constantly sounding through the computer system, he said, to alert him that a patient’s oxygen levels had dropped too low. He would rush to the patient’s room, sometimes to find that they didn’t even realize they were losing oxygen.

“If you’ve been short of breath for so long, you just start developing fatigue from breathing so hard. So it might be like your new normal,” Bang told Insider.

Even when he went home, Bang said, he would still hear the alarms in his head. Work followed Chieh home, too.

“My husband gave me this feedback: I talked about COVID too much at home. Talked about math too much, talked about every news article,” she said. “It almost overtook my vocabulary and my mind.”

That hasn’t fully subsided – Chieh said those winter days still haunt her.

“I feel like I can remember every single COVID patient,” she said. “I imagine what it must be like to have this astronaut person come into their room to work with them. They must be terrified.”

‘I’ve never seen something infect people so easily’

nurses covid coronavirus ppe donning hospital
Dania Lima, right, helps fellow nurse Adriana Volynsky put on personal protective equipment in a COVID-19 unit at Providence Holy Cross Medical Center in Los Angeles, December 22, 2020.

Many of Dr. Kenny Pettersen’s patients in Los Angeles live in crowded homes with a combination of parents, kids, grandparents, or cousins under one roof. That made it difficult to make quarantine plans for the COVID-19 patients who weren’t sick enough to stay at the hospital.

In spring and summer, he told Insider, “when someone in the household would have COVID, usually like half or less of the rest of the household would get COVID.”

But this winter, Pettersen, said “it was almost universally 100%.”

Pettersen is a primary-care physician at Olive View-UCLA Medical Center. The change in LA’s outbreak was so noticeable to him during the winter that he assumed the virus itself must have changed.

“I’ve never seen something infect people so easily,” he said. “I felt like I was almost wasting my time talking to patients about the prevention of household transmission.”

More research on CAL.20C is still needed to confirm his suspicions, though, since the initial studies of the variant haven’t been peer reviewed, and the spike-protein mutation that characterizes it has not been thoroughly investigated.

Relief and grief after the surge

Pettersen’s grandmother died of coronavirus in August. Many of his patients died, too, and some left behind young children. One family is losing their home after the coronavirus-related deaths of two family members.

“Practically every one of my patients, either they’ve been infected, or many of their family members have been infected, they know somebody very well who has died or gotten severely sick,” Pettersen said. “I think the cumulative toll that takes on my patients is just really profound.”

vaccine nurse coronavirus covid los angeles california
Nurse practitioner Nicole Monk, 44, receives a coronavirus vaccination at the Los Angeles Mission homeless shelter on Skid Row, February 10, 2021.

Still, he said, the mood among his coworkers is more upbeat now. There are even days at the hospital when nobody dies of COVID-19.

“I think that we can start to breathe with a little bit more confidence,” Pettersen said. He and his wife have both been vaccinated.

Bang and Chieh say they feel safer these days, too. The volume of COVID-19 patients is much lower. They’ve been vaccinated, and more people are getting shots each day. But the winter memories persist. Some healthcare workers are now nervous about other variants. And there’s a strong possibility they or their colleagues will develop PTSD.

But Pettersen, at least, said he was finally able to go to an outdoor restaurant for sushi with his wife recently.

“We can, you know, be optimistic for the first time in about a year,” he said.

Read the original article on Business Insider

Gorillas at the San Diego Zoo are the first non-humans to be vaccinated against COVID-19

winston gorilla san diego zoo
With fewer than 5,000 gorillas left in the wild, researchers have expressed concern that, because apes live in close family groups, a coronavirus infection could spread quickly if just one ape caught the virus.

  • Great apes at the San Diego Zoo are the first non-humans to receive a COVID-19 vaccine.
  • The news comes after a gorilla troop at the zoo tested positive for COVID-19 in January.
  • Researchers are hoping to better understand the coronavirus and its effects on apes in the wild.
  • Visit the Business section of Insider for more stories.

Several great apes at the San Diego Zoo were given experimental Covid-19 vaccines for animals Wednesday morning, becoming the first known non-human primates to receive a vaccine in the US.

Back in January, eight gorillas at the San Diego Zoo Safari Park tested positive for COVID-19. Global Conservation and Wildlife Health Officer Nadine Lamberski told Insider in an interview that the “alarm bells” first went off when the zoo’s 49-year-old silverback gorilla named Winston started coughing a few days after finding out one of their wildlife care specialists had Covid-19.

“As soon as we knew that an employee was positive, we were on high alert, so just that one or two coughs really sent the alarm bells off, and we immediately started to get the permissions necessary to submit samples for diagnostic testing,” Lamberski said.

“We really had to divide and conquer it, and everybody had a different role,” she said. “We had our wildlife care specialists trying to figure out, you know, if we could separate the animals, and what if one animal was severely ill and had to have intensive care? Was that even possible?”

“So again, we had a lot of people doing a lot of things simultaneously because we wanted to be prepared for any outcome,” she continued. “You know, we were hoping for the best but preparing for the worst.”

The gorillas had made a full recovery by mid-February, and Lamberski said she worked on trying to obtain vaccines to prevent further infection in the gorilla troop and other apes at the zoo.

Veterinary pharmaceutical company Zoetis developed the experimental vaccine, National Geographic reported, which is not built nor suitable for human use.

In total, nine great apes – four orangutans and five bonobos – were administered the vaccine, including an orangutan named Karen, who was the first ape in the world to have open-heart surgery in 1994.

With fewer than 5,000 gorillas left in the wild, researchers have expressed concern that, because apes live in close family groups, the infection could spread quickly if just one ape caught the virus.

Little is currently known about the effect the coronavirus has on animals, though various animals, including cats and dogs, have tested positive for the virus in the past.

While zoo staff can take some comfort in knowing their gorillas are vaccinated, Lamberski thinks “that big sigh of relief isn’t going to come until our entire community is vaccinated, until the vaccine gets to, you know, remote communities all over the world, to areas where gorillas live in the wild.”

Paul Baribault, CEO and President of the San Diego Zoo Wildlife Alliance, told Insider he hopes the pandemic will help people realize the interconnectedness that humans have with nature.

“As we move forward out of COVID, I think we certainly hope that the world has a greater understanding of our interdependency, that we are dependent on the health of nature,” he said. “We are dependent on the health of wildlife. Our health is tied to all of it.”


Read the original article on Business Insider

Kevin Faulconer is running for California governor against Gavin Newsom. Democrats should pay attention.

Kevin Faulconer
Former San Diego Mayor Kevin Faulconer.

  • Kevin Faulconer has launched a campaign for governor against Gavin Newsom in California.
  • Faulconer, a moderate Republican, was the mayor of San Diego from 2014 to 2020.
  • Democrats dominate California politics, but Faulconer could attract crossover votes.
  • Visit the Business section of Insider for more stories.

For most of the past 15 years, California Republicans have been in a severe political drought.

Once a state that produced US presidents like Richard Nixon and Ronald Reagan, Republicans won their last statewide races in 2006 with the reelection of Arnold Schwarzenegger as governor and the election of Steve Poizner as insurance commissioner.

Since then, Democrats retook the Governor’s Mansion, captured every statewide office from lieutenant governor to state controller, and launched the career of Vice President Kamala Harris, a former state attorney general and US senator.

President Joe Biden easily won the state’s 55 electoral votes in November, capturing 63.5% of the vote against former President Donald Trump’s 34% share.

California is now a decidedly Democratic state. However, the party should not get complacent.

A moderate Republican comeback

On February 1, former San Diego Mayor Kevin Faulconer announced that he was launching a gubernatorial campaign against incumbent Democratic Gov. Gavin Newsom for 2022 or a potential recall election that would be held later this year.

Faulconer, a moderate Republican who served as mayor from March 2014 until December 2020, is the strongest candidate that the party has fielded for statewide office in years.

Read more: Biden already has an antagonist-in-chief. It’s Ron DeSantis, the Florida GOP governor Democrats have tagged as ‘Trump’s errand boy.’

While in office, Faulconer was one of the few big-city Republican mayors in the entire country. Since the San Diego mayoral office is technically nonpartisan, he had a leading role in tackling traditionally progressive issues such as affordable housing and increasing services for the homeless.

Faulconer is also pro-choice, supports the DREAM Act, and backed climate change initiatives as mayor.

“California has so much promise,” he said in announcing his run. “But Gavin Newsom’s broken promises have become our problems. His leadership is failing our state. It’s time for the California Comeback.”

Newsom, who faces a recall effort with its supporters having already gathered 1.3 million of the 1.5 million signatures necessary to put the measure on the ballot ahead of a March 17 deadline, has been criticized for his handling of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Gavin Newsom
California Gov. Gavin Newsom speaks at a news conference at Cal Expo in Sacramento, California.

While California was cited for its quick response and strict measures against the coronavirus in the early months of the pandemic, there has been a brutal COVID-19 wave across the state since late last year.

An unrelenting pandemic

California is the worst-hit state in the US. Roughly 3.3 million people have been infected with the coronavirus and over 41,000 people have died from the disease, according to the latest data compiled by Johns Hopkins University.

While Newsom certainly cannot be blamed for the virus entering the state, the long-term effects of the pandemic have worn thin with many Californians.

In November, Newsom was roundly pilloried in the press for dining as part of a group at the high-end French Laundry restaurant in Yountville, a Napa County town, despite pleading with residents to restrict their social gatherings. He quickly apologized for the incident.

“I made a bad mistake,” Newsom said at the time. “Instead of sitting down, I should have stood up and walked back, got in my car and drove back to my house.”

Californians, who in 2018 voted for Newsom in a 62%-38% landslide over Republican businessman John Cox, have since cooled to the governor.

In the latest University of California Berkeley Institute of Governmental Studies poll released on February 2, Newsom’s job approval rating sat at 46%, a steep decline from his 64% approval rating from last September.

Mining for Republican votes

Despite Biden’s massive statewide victory, Republicans made critical gains at the federal level, winning back four House seats that Democrats flipped in the 2018 midterm elections.

GOP Reps. Young Kim, Michelle Steel, Mike Garcia, and David Valadao were able to win districts in Orange County, northern Los Angeles County, and the Central Valley, all of which have a growing contingent of minority voters that were clearly receptive to GOP messaging.

Young Kim
In 2020, Rep. Young Kim (R-California) won the Orange County-anchored 39th Congressional district.

Faulconer, who was elected as mayor in a 2014 special election and reelected in 2016, would likely appeal to the independents and moderate Republicans who now vote for Democrats almost exclusively at the presidential level.

San Diego County is a clear target for Faulconer. The county, a longtime conservative stronghold buttressed by the robust military presence in the area, still contains plenty of Republican-friendly turf. It’s also his home base.

Between 1948 and 2004, Republican presidential nominees consistently won San Diego County – except in 1992, when Bill Clinton won with a narrow plurality. 

That all changed with former President Barack Obama’s 10% win in 2008. Similar to most large metropolitan areas across the US, the county began to vote Democratic.

The political reality of the Golden State 

In 2012, Obama beat GOP challenger Mitt Romney in the county by a 53% to 45% margin, and in 2016, former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton defeated Trump 56% to 37%. 

Read more: Biden already has an antagonist-in-chief. It’s Ron DeSantis, the Florida GOP governor Democrats have tagged as ‘Trump’s errand boy.’

Last year, Biden beat Trump in the county 60% to 37.5%. Despite Trump’s loss, he still received over 600,000 votes countywide, which was an increase of nearly 123,000 votes from his total in 2016, reflecting that there are still plenty of GOP votes to be found.

Neighboring Orange County, which narrowly supported Newsom in 2018 and for generations was one of the most recognizable GOP locales in the entire country, is a place where Faulconer has the potential to make gains.

Republicans are still dominant at the local level in Orange County, and as a center of the anti-mask movement, Newsom will have to work hard to win over many of these voters in his next election.

Despite his current troubles, Newsom has been a longtime fixture in California politics, first as mayor of San Francisco and then as a two-term lieutenant governor. Nearly half (49%) of all voters in the Berkeley IGS poll think a potential recall election would be bad for the state.

However, the pandemic has the potential to scramble traditional political sentiments, and Faulconer is running as a bridge-builder, emphasizing a focus on income inequality and raising the morale of the state. 

If conservative activists are willing to accept some of Faulconer’s more moderate positions, then his campaign could be a huge step forward in the California GOP’s bid to regain relevancy in the state.

Read the original article on Business Insider

San Diego man tests positive for new, more contagious UK variant of COVID-19

GettyImages 1210379270
Demonstrators protest during a “Freedom Rally” against Stay-At-Home Directives on April 18, 2020 in San Diego, California.

  • A variant of the coronavirus first detected in the UK has now been found in Southern California, officials said Wednesday.
  • A 30-year-old San Diego man was confirmed this morning to have the new variant, which is believed to be more contagious.
  • “Because there is no travel history, we do not believe this is an isolated case in San Diego County,” San Diego County Supervisor Nathan Fletcher said at a press conference.
  • Visit Business Insider’s homepage for more stories.

A new, likely more contagious variant of the coronavirus is spreading among the community in Southern California amid a surge in COVID-19 that has overwhelmed local hospitals.

At a press conference on Wednesday, San Diego County Supervisor Nathan Fletcher said a 30-year-old man had tested positive on December 29 for the variant, first known to have spread in the United Kingdom.

The man has not been to the UK, he noted.

“Because there is no travel history, we do not believe this is an isolated case in San Diego County,” Fletcher said.

The new variant is believed to be far more contagious than what has previously spread across the United States. It is not, however, seen as more dangerous to those infected, nor is it believed to be resistant to vaccination.

According to San Diego County public health officials, the man infected with the UK variant, known as B117, became symptomatic on December 27.

“We confirmed it at 3 a.m. this morning,” Dr. Kristian Andersen, a professor at the Department of Immunology and Microbiology at Scripps Research, said at the press conference.

“It was only a question of when,” Anderson said of the first known case of the UK variant in California. While not yet as prevalent as other variants of the virus, “We know there are more,” he said. “We don’t know how many.”

The news comes as San Diego hospitals are reporting that they are running out of space in their morgues to hold those dying from COVID-19. Hospitals in nearby Los Angeles, meanwhile, are running out of oxygen to treat those in their over-capacity ICUs.

The first known US case of the variant was detected on Tuesday, a 20-something man in Colorado also testing positive despite no history of recent travel to the UK.

Have a news tip? Email this reporter:

Read the original article on Business Insider

For the first time ever, the Marine Corps will train women at its all-male West Coast boot camp

Marine Corps recruit boot camp Parris Island
A recruit receives instructions on the range prior to live fire on Marine Corps Recruit Depot Parris Island, South Carolina, November 12, 2019.

  • The Marine Corps is sending women to its all-male West Coast boot camp in San Diego for the first time.
  • The Corps already trains women at its other recruit depot in South Carolina, but the service is preparing to meet a congressional mandate to make its entry-level training coed.
  • Visit Business Insider’s homepage for more stories.

For the first time ever, the Marine Corps is about to send dozens of women to its all-male West Coast boot camp as the service prepares to meet a congressional mandate to make its entry-level training coed.

About 60 female recruits will begin training at Marine Corps Recruit Depot San Diego in February, multiple officials told The plan is part of a test run as the Marine Corps experiments with ways to end its long-held tradition of separating enlisted recruits by gender when they arrive at boot camp.

The service has historically trained female recruits only at Marine Corps Recruit Depot Parris Island in South Carolina. But it is required by law to end that practice within five years at Parris Island and within eight at San Diego.

Three women will also graduate from the Marine Corps’ West Coast drill instructor school this week, officials said. The new drill instructors will be part of the team responsible for training the incoming female platoon.

Commandant Gen. David Berger, the Marine Corps’ top general, said during a Defense One event in September that the service would “run a couple of trials this wintertime” in which it would move female drill instructors from South Carolina to San Diego “and train recruits on the West Coast to see how this is going to work.”

It was not immediately clear at the time whether that meant the drill instructors would train the male recruits already there, or women as well.

Marine Corps recruit San Diego
Drill instructors correct a new recruit at Marine Corps Recruit Depot, San Diego, March 30, 2020.

The recruits will be assigned to a coed company once they get to San Diego. The company will follow the training model Parris Island has been using over the last two years to train men and women together in the same company.

The first-ever gender-integrated company, which included one female platoon and five male platoons, graduated from Parris Island in March 2019. Several more coed companies have since completed training together there.

Lawmakers have pressed the Marine Corps to train men and women together after all combat arms jobs opened to women and a high-profile scandal highlighted the troubling way some male Marines treated their female colleagues. The requirement to end the practice was included in the 2020 National Defense Authorization Act, which was signed into law last December.

Leaders have said that the coed companies that have graduated at Parris Island have performed as well, if not better than, some all-male or all-female companies.

“If anything, it went a little better because there’s a little bit more competition with [each platoon] going, ‘No, we need to beat them,’ or ‘We can’t let them beat us,'” now-retired Maj. Gen. William Mullen, the former head of Marine Corps Training and Education Command, told last year. “So there was a little bit of that effect. But other than that, there was no real difference.”

The female recruits that will ship to Marine Corps Recruit Depot San Diego in February have already been notified that they won’t be training at Parris Island, officials said. The women, like most men who train in San Diego, will ship from states west of the Mississippi River.

The Marine Corps is also studying, as part of meeting its congressional mandate to make boot camp coed, the possibility of training all its recruits at a new site rather than shipping them to separate coasts. That has led to outcry from South Carolina politicians who are pushing back against closing the historic Parris Island base.

– Gina Harkins can be reached at Follow her on Twitter @ginaaharkins.

Read the original article on Business Insider