Articles by Special to The Grapevine

Health insurers prosper as COVID-19 deflates

As doctors and consumers are forced to put most nonemergency procedures on hold, many health insurers foresee strong profits. So why is the industry looking to Congress for help? Insurers say that while that falloff in claims for non-COVID care is offsetting for now many insurers’ costs associated with the pandemic, the future is far more fraught. Costs could remain modest or quickly outstrip savings….


Aggressive medical debt collection continues

Darcel Richardson knows she’s fortunate in one sense: She still has her job as a vocational counselor in Baltimore. But despite that, she won’t be able to make her rent payment this month because she’s not getting her full salary for a while. More than $400 per biweekly paycheck — about a quarter of her after-tax income — has been siphoned off by Johns Hopkins…


Coronavirus temporary federal pop-up hospital to open at Palomar Medical Center

Coronavirus fighting came home to roost Sunday, April 5 as San Diego County officials announced plans for a 250-bed federal temporary hospital to open at Escondido, helping expand the local capacity to treat patients during the viral pandemic. The pop-up “hospital within a hospital” will be installed on the 10th and 11th floors of the Escondido facility as a fully functioning hospital and will add to the…


California hospitals face coronavirus surge

California’s hospitals thought they were ready for the next big disaster. They’ve retrofitted their buildings to withstand a major earthquake and  whisked patients out of danger during deadly wildfires. They’ve kept patients alive with backup generators amid sweeping power shutoffs and trained their staff to thwart would-be shooters. But nothing has prepared them for a crisis of the magnitude facing hospitals today. “We’re in a…


Coronavirus culture: ‘Walden’ and fashion

Seeking to bend the coronavirus curve, governors and mayors have told millions of Americans to stay home. If you’re pondering what to read, it’s easy to find lists featuring books about disease outbreaks, solitude and living a simpler life. But it’s much harder to find a book that combines these themes. As the author of three books about essayist, poet and philosopher Henry David Thoreau,…


Homeless services stretched thin by virus

Almost two-thirds of the county’s homeless population is in the city of San Diego. But homelessness is a problem throughout the region – from the South Bay to North County. The homeless shelters in these communities, one of which was struggling financially even before the novel coronavirus pandemic, are now being stretched thin as they scramble to meet the needs of the vulnerable people they…


SD-based USS Boxer hosts first ship virus

After discovering a sailor with coronavirus, the U.S. Navy crowded dozens of sailors in one room. On the USS Boxer, where the Navy discovered its first case of coronavirus on a ship, a sailor says his superiors called a meeting that crammed more than 80 senior enlisted sailors and officers together. It wasn’t a surprise when the U.S. Navy announced Sunday that the fast-spreading coronavirus…


Coronavirus today: Academics shout out

Coronavirus is pretty much all there is for now. Academics at various national and international institutions are weighing in with practical tips (not touching your face, staying healthy, using screen time effectively) to science (the older immune system and R0) to economics (paying for stimulus, sending out checks) to politics (functioning courts, quarantine rights) to arts (pandemic lit). Stories written by academic scholars and researchers,…


Coronavirus fears close local farmers markets

Due to fears of COVID-19, the disease caused by the novel coronavirus, some local governments and property owners in California have temporarily ceased farmers market operations, while other markets remain open after bolstering safety measures to prevent spread of the virus. Abruptly closing markets, affected organizers say, hurts farmers and market customers, especially when access to fresh fruits and vegetables is a must to boost…


Hunter sentenced to 11 months in prison

Former California Rep. Duncan Hunter (R-Vapeville) has been sentenced to 11 months in prison after pleading guilty to misspending campaign funds. The funds bankrolled private school tuition for his children, his wife’s shopping sprees, weekend trips with his mistress and drinking parties in Washington. The former Marine’s defense attorneys had asked for home confinement, citing his military service, including fighting in Iraq and Afghanistan. Prosecutors…