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San Diego City Council committee discusses pandemic impact on SDFD, convention center

Posted at 1:14 PM, Feb 14, 2022
and last updated 2022-02-14 16:14:54-05

SAN DIEGO (KGTV) -- The San Diego City Council’s Response and Recovery Committee heard updates Monday on vaccination rates and treatments, pandemic impacts on San Diego Fire-Rescue personnel, and the projected outlook for the convention center.

That presentation started with a photo of the empty convention hall with cots lined up. The picture was taken in the early days of the pandemic, when the events facility was converted into Operation Shelter to Home. For almost a year, it served as a temporary homeless shelter, serving thousands of vulnerable San Diegans.

Later, it became Operation Artemis, providing safe shelter to unaccompanied children who came across the border, while they waited to connect with sponsors or family.

All in all, convention center officials say they lost more than 150 events during the last two years, more than $50 million in forecasted tax revenue for the city and more than $2 billion for the region.

As for the future, convention center officials told the committee that based on industry projections and what's been booked so far, they anticipate bouncing back to pre-pandemic levels in fiscal year 2024.

In the San Diego Fire-Rescue Department update, officials said at the peak of the omicron variant in early January, they had 235 personnel in isolation. Compare that to just 33 at the beginning of February. They said Monday they are down to 14.

SDFD officials referenced “brownouts” due to limited staff, with nine units shut down at one point. The department says they've come back from that.

Approximately 93% of SDFD staff is fully vaccinated, and the department says in turn, they -- along with their partners -- have vaccinated nearly 80,000 people.

The Department of Health and Human Services says they're pleased to report that more than 91% of eligible San Diegans, those five and older, have had at least one dose of the vaccine.

Officials would like to see more people get the booster however, as that number is lower -- at 53%.