A few days ago, SoccerNation told readers about San Diego County’s plan to get young athletes back onto the practice fields. Read about the “Game On San Diego” plan HERE.
Interview with San Diego County Supervisor Kristin Gaspar
SoccerNation reached out to Supervisor Kristin Gaspar to find out more about San Diego’s plan and how it affects soccer families specifically.
This afternoon, Supervisor Gaspar called in to SoccerNation for an in-depth interview. We talked all about how San Diego County plans to get kids back to the practice fields as soon as possible.
“Game On” has not been denied. It just hasn’t been reviewed yet.
SN: The plan you sent to the Governor’s office was two parts, correct? A retail and restaurants proposal, and another one that included youth sports?
KG: Yes. This week, the Governor approved the plan for retail and restaurants to open back up. That’s been all over the news. The other proposal [which includes the Game On initiative] we sent has not been denied! It just hasn’t been reviewed yet. We are hoping and expecting to hear the Governor’s answer by next Wednesday (May 27).
KG: San Diego began its lockdown weeks earlier than the majority of the state. It is reasonable, we believe, that San Diego should be allowed to accelerate through the Governor’s phases of re-opening.
All about safety, metrics, and hospital capacity
SN: What helped guide your decisions and planning with this proposal you sent to Sacramento?
KG: We are all about safety, metrics, and hospital capacity. We anticipate that there will be a spike in cases once areas of life start re-opening. We believe, and our County Health Officer agrees, that we have the hospital capacity to deal with any spike that happens as we re-open. If we need to tap the brakes on re-opening, we can. If we have to dial back, even, we can do that. Although I really doubt we would have to go backwards in re-opening. The county is well-prepared for any spike in cases that may happen.
South San Diego Specifics
SN: There is a lot of concern around youth returning to outdoor sports in South San Diego County, were there has been increased pressure put on the hospital system. What do you say to South Bay soccer families concerned about heading back out to practice?
KG: Yes, we have had a spike in cases in South San Diego. We have over 265,000 American citizens who live in Mexico. And thousands more authorized workers. If they need medical care, they can come here.
SN: There are rumors that North County San Diego hospitals are denying transfer patients from hospitals in the south. Is that true?
SG: That is totally inaccurate. San Diego County hospitals, all 22 of them, are operating as one group together. If a hospital needs to transfer a patient, they can. We are even working with hospitals in Yuma and Imperial Valley, outside of San Diego County.
300 Care Beds at UCSD
KG: Another project I’d like to point out is our creative care approach to this pandemic. I have helped set up 350 care beds and living quarters at UCSD. These are ready and waiting for COVID patients as well as doctors, nurses, and health care staff. Everyone will be able to live there to give and receive the needed care. We have other locations, too, so we have over 500 of these beds and living quarters. NONE of them are being used right now, and we are happy about that. They are ready for any spike in cases and can be used immediately.
Pop-up Hospital at the US-Mexico Border
KG: We are also setting up a pop-up hospital near the McDonald’s by the outlet mall by the border. [Right across the street from soccerloco] At that location, we can treat patients, and we can also triage people coming across the border to make sure we get them to the appropriate care that’s best for each individual.
San Diego Health Officials Say We are Ready to Play
SN: So, if a family in South San Diego, or anywhere really, is a little nervous about going back to soccer, what would you tell them?
KG: I completely understand. I would want them to really understand, though, that our San Diego County Health Officials are, by no means, cavalier about these health decisions! If our [Game On San Diego] plan wasn’t safe, it would never have gotten the Health Officer’s approval. And it did get approval.
KG: Every family’s, every coach’s, and every team’s concerns need to be taken seriously. If a family has someone that is at risk, and they’re not comfortable sending their kids back to practices in groups, that will be respected. Decisions can be kept local that way. We need to be mindful of individual families who may not want to return to the fields. That does NOT MEAN, however, that we should keep this opportunity way from everyone.
What can families do? Contact Governor Newsom this weekend!
SN: What can families do to help get the Game On San Diego plan approved?
KG: Everyone should contact him through his office. There isn’t a direct email address. They have a website where you can submit a form with your comments. It would be great if everyone would do that this weekend.
KG: We need to get our kids back to sports. I can see it in my own kids, and I know I’m not alone. Our kids’ mental and physical health is suffering. It’s suffering badly. We have the hospital and medical capacity to handle any spike in cases we may see. Our kids need to get back outside in the fresh air and sunshine. They need to see their friends. The coaches who love them need to see them and begin again teaching those life-lessons that we all learn from sports.
KG: So, if you could help spread the word, that would be wonderful. We need to get our kids back to their sports. Thank you so much for helping.
You’re welcome, Supervisor Gaspar!