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OPINION The constitutional right we cannot afford to waste San Diego Downtown News August 2020

Notes from Toni By TONI G. ATKINS Every decade, each person in the United States, young and old, regardless of citizenship, has the Constitutional right to be counted. The Census is the only way for us to determine the true definition of America – whether you live in the largest metropolitan cities or miles down rural routes. Reminders about taking the 2020 Census are emblazoned on billboards, featured in television commercials, and sprinkled into social media news feeds. It makes sense, given that approximately $1.5 trillion dollars in federal funding is at stake. Breaking that down, that means for every person left out of the Census count, California could lose $1,000 per person per year - for the next 10 years. That’s a loss of $10,000 per uncounted person until the 2030 Census. If you have a family of five, your community could lose out on $50,000. The Census is like planning how much cake to have at a birthday party based on the

number of RSVPs. No one wants to miss out on cake because you thought it was OK to just show up unannounced. The total pool of funding is distributed to communities based on population and head counts. This includes babies, children, teenagers, seniors and non-citizens. The current COVID-19 health crisis also affords an all-too-realistic example of why you need to be counted. We need to ensure that we get our fair share of funding and resources in emergency situations. Funding for a community health clinic in your neighborhood is based on information only you can provide. The data also funds programs and resources like senior services, child health programs, higher education, and job training. Our population is aging. The first Baby Boomers hit 65 in 2011. That population will continue to grow, and senior services must be properly accounted for. By filling the Census form out, you are declaring, “I am here. I exist.” More importantly, your answers help fund programs that serve your community and shape your future.

It is important to note that this is not a citizenship survey. Despite the Supreme Court already having blocked the citizenship question from being included in the Census, the current administration continues to wrongfully attempt to circumvent the law and exclude non-citizens in the 2020 Census. Those efforts are unconscionable and unconstitutional. Now, more than ever, we need everyone to participate in the 2020 Census so that we can ensure the law, not divisive politics, governs our land. We cannot let people be bullied or made to live in fear. The Constitution is clear – all people must count. If this current public health and economic crisis has demonstrated anything, it is that vulnerable communities have suffered the most. In addition, COVID-19 has had a significant impact on our public schools and higher education, which means it is even more important to plan for the next 10 years in communities hard hit by this pandemic. Census workers, called enumerators, will begin going doorto-door to collect Census data. They are not allowed to ask for your social security number,

political preference, bank account information, or religious affiliation. It also illegal for the Census Bureau to share your information with law enforcement or any other government agency. And your information cannot be used against you in any way. So please, consider this my “door-to-door” ask. Have you done a post on Facebook, sent a Tweet or uploaded a picture on Instagram? It’s just as easy to fill out your Census. You can do it online, over the phone or on paper. In fact, you may also be receiving an email, making it even easier to complete. The next 10 years of funding can be determined in just 10 minutes of your time. Make sure you are counted. It is your Constitutional right. Online: 2020Census.gov By Phone: 844-330-2020 —Toni G. Atkins is President pro Tempore of the California Senate. Having previously served as Speaker of the California Assembly, she began her tenure in the Senate in 2016. As Senator for District 39, she represents the cities of San Diego, Coronado, Del Mar and Solana Beach. Website of President pro Tempore Toni G. Atkins: Senate. ca.gov/Atkins

Coronavirus alert: Fake tests and scams District Attorney News By SUMMER STEPHAN As your District Attorney, I’m committed to increasing communication and accessibility between the DA’s Office and you, the community. One way I have been doing that is through this monthly column, where I provide consumer tips on public safety matters. Although most people have come together during the COVID-19 pandemic by staying home, social distancing and wearing face coverings to limit the spread of the coronavirus, not everyone has been playing by the same rules. Scammers have come up with new ways to prey on fear and insecurity by offering fake at-home testing kits and even phony testing sites to trick people out of their personal information and hard-earned money. Fortunately, the capacity for COVID-19 testing in San Diego County has recently increased, and there are currently 17 public testing sites operating in the County. Health plans are required cover COVID-19 tests at no cost to the enrollee, even for people who are not showing symptoms. However, the Department of Public Health recommends that you first contact your healthcare provider for a COVID-19 test.

If you are unable to get a test from your healthcare provider, the County has coordinated free diagnostic COVID-19 testing at many locations. Appointments are required and can be made up to one week in advance. You can make an appointment online through the County’s website or by calling 211. There are also private-for-fee testing sites that are operating in the County. If you go to a testing site outside of those recommended by your health care provider or County Public Health, there is no way to ensure the tests are genuine and effective. Also, you may find you are billed for a service that should otherwise be free to you. Be aware that scammers are selling phony at-home testing kits. As of today, there is no federally approved at-home coronavirus testing kits for the general public. Here are tips to help identify fake testing sites: Before going to any testing site, figure out if you really need to be tested. The CDC’s self-checker webpage can also help with this. Ask your doctor if getting tested through a drive-through site is your best option. Only use testing sites by official providers, such as hospitals or health agencies, or through the County’s appointment system. Be on the lookout for signs of a fake testing site. Although

scammers have resorted to using full protective gear to fool victims, their testing sites are often located in strange places like parking lots or on the side of the road. Fake testing sites will often ask for inflated fees of upwards of $1,000 but will advertise free testing for those who are Medicare recipients. Stay away from these sites as they are likely scams. Beware of callers trying to solicit personal information: San Diego County does use contract tracers to inform people if they have been in contact with a person who has COVID-19. The contract tracers are calling people by phone and will identify themselves as County Public Health workers. They will not ask for financial information or Social Security numbers. Any calls purporting to be from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) are scams. The CDC will not contact you, especially to sell at-home testing kits. Emails asking you to provide personal information (including insurance information) in exchange for a coronavirus testing kit is also a common scam. Be cautious with unsolicited emails. Be cautious of any phone calls claiming to be from Medicare or your health insurance. Always verify any numbers online and ask for identifying information from the callers.

When in doubt, do not give out personal information by phone or through the Internet. Scammers can use your name and address for identity fraud. Always use official sources for any coronavirus information such as www.CDC.gov or www. SanDiegoCounty.gov. Remember, there is no approved coronavirus vaccine, cure or “miracle treatment.” What to do if you are scammed: If you think you have been the victim of a scam, report it to the National Center for Disaster Fraud Hotline at (866) 720-5721 or disaster@leo.gov. Report coronavirus scams to the FDA’s Health Fraud Program or the Office of Criminal Investigations. Although there are a few scammers looking to exploit a precarious situation, there are countless more first responders and essential workers helping keep everyone safe and healthy. —District Attorney Summer Stephan has dedicated more than 29 years to serving justice and victims of crime as prosecutor. She is a national leader in fighting sex crimes and human trafficking and in creating smart and fair criminal justice solutions and restorative justice practices that treat the underlying causes of addiction and mental illness and that keep young people from being incarcerated.

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EDITOR Kendra Sitton kendra@sdnews.com CONTRIBUTING EDITORS Jeff Clemetson x130 Tom Melville x131 Dave Schwab x 132 CONTRIBUTING WRITERS Toni Atkins Sarah Brothers Diana Cavagnaro Tom Cesarini Christopher Gomez Katherine Hon Summer Stephan Delle Willett EDITORIAL INTERN Makena Huey

WEB / SOCIAL MEDIA Kendra Sitton ADVERTISING CONSULTANTS Mike Rosensteel (619) 961-1958 miker@sdnews.com Heather Fine, x107 BUSINESS CONSULTANT David Mannis (619) 961-1951 david@sdcnn.com ACCOUNTING Heather Humble x120 accounting@sdnews.com PUBLISHER Julie Main x106 julie@sdnews.com

OPINIONS/LETTERS: San Diego Downtown News encourages letters to the editor and guest editorials. Please email either to kendra@sdnews.com and include your phone number and address for verification. We reserve the right to edit letters for brevity and accuracy. Letters and guest editorials do not necessarily reflect the views of the publisher or staff. SUBMISSIONS/NEWS TIPS: Press releases and story ideas are welcomed. Send press releases, tips, photos or story ideas to kendra@sdnews.com. For breaking news and investigative story ideas contact the editor by phone or email. DISTRIBUTION: San Diego Downtown News is distributed free on the first Friday of every month. Copyright 2020. All rights reserved.

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