7 San Diego Stories That You Couldn't Turn Away From in 2020

A look back at seven San Diego stories that really got people talking in 2020

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Stories that made you feel. Stories that made you think. Stories that impacted your life, your paycheck, your habits during a year filled with so much uncertainty.

A Starbucks barista who refused to serve a customer who refused to wear a face mask inside the coffee shop. The extension of unemployment benefits in California. A Mexican Netflix reality star set to marry into the British royal family. These were some of the stories San Diegans just couldn’t turn away from in 2020.

Let’s look back at 7 stories covered by NBC 7 this year that struck a chord with viewers and readers.

Woman Who Shamed Starbucks Barista for Refusing to Serve Her Without a Face Mask Speaks Out, As Barista’s GoFundMe Grows

In June – about two months after face mask mandates went into effect across San Diego County, making them mandatory inside local businesses – the story of a woman who refused to wear a mask at a San Diego Starbucks and the barista who, in turn, refused to serve her, made headlines.

A Clairemont woman who was denied service at a Starbucks for refusing to wear a mask says she’s received death threats after publicly shaming a barista on social media, reports NBC 7's Artie Ojeda.

Amber Lynn Gilles refused to wear a face mask while grabbing coffee at a Starbucks on Genesee Avenue. Barista Lenin Gutierrez refused to serve her until she covered up her face.

Gilles decided to snap a photo of Gutierrez and publicly shamed the barista by posting the picture on Facebook.

Lenin Gutierrez, 24, could have never predicted what would happen after a photo of him was shared online.

“Meet lenen from Starbucks who refused to serve me cause I’m not wearing a mask,” Gilles’ post read. “Next time I will wait for cops and bring a medical exemption.”

The post went viral – but more in support of Gutierrez than Gilles.

An online fundraiser page was created for the barista titled “Tips for Lenin Standing Up to a San Diego Karen.” That GoFundMe page grew to $68,000 within days; as of Dec. 14, it had garnered more than $105,000 in donations for Gutierrez.

Gilles said she had received threats on social media. She said she never threatened Gutierrez, “just called him out on his actions.”

The barista received the tips from a GoFundMe page after he refused a woman service at a Starbucks for not wearing a mask.

Gutierrez explained his side of the story on his Facebook page, saying Gilles flipped him off, cursed at him and started calling people inside the Starbuck “sheep.” Then he said she came back and took his photo.

Gutierrez also shared his side of the story on NBC 7's Into San Diego podcast. You can listen to that episode here.

The barista said he was grateful to those who sided with him and sent donations. He planned to use the money to fulfill his dream of studying dance.

An online fundraiser collecting "tips" for a San Diego Starbucks barista who denied service to a customer after she refused to wear a face mask has amassed over $100,000 in donations from supporters who believe the barista did the right thing, reports NBC 7's Artie Ojeda.

California Unemployment Benefits Extended Another 20 Weeks

California Unemployment Benefits Extended Another 20 Weeks

In August, NBC 7 Responds reported on how California’s FED-ED program would be extending unemployment benefits for another 20 weeks.

With millions of Californians out of work, the story was truly news many people could use.

Loree Levy with the state’s Employment Development Department explained how the extension would work, and Consumer Bob broke it down for San Diego, step-by-step.

“That boosts it up to 20 extra weeks of benefits for workers who are still struggling to get back to work,” Levy said.

NBC 7 Responds explains how the extension works for people already receiving unemployment benefits.

Hanna & Harry: A Mexican Netflix Reality Star Will Soon Marry Into British Nobility

A Mexican-American San Diego native took her turn in the spotlight in 2020 with her love story – which was more of a fairy tale, really.

Hanna Jaff Bosdet – a star of the Netflix reality show, “Made in Mexico” – turned heads when she got engaged to Lord Henry Roper-Curzon, best known as “Harry” (yes, the other Royal Harry).

Roper-Curzon is a British aristocrat and heir to the title Lord, 22nd Baron of Teynham.

Although the couple’s wedding was put on hold this year due to the coronavirus pandemic, when the couple finally do get married, Jaff Bosdet will become Lady Hanna, Baroness of Teynham, and will be the first Mexican woman to ever marry into British aristocracy.

Jaff Bosdet was born in San Diego and raised in Tijuana. She plans to move to England to live out her modern-day fairy tale alongside her love.

In the meantime, the world is getting to know her as a goal-driven academic, activist, and philanthropist – and not just a reality TV star.

She sometimes shares photos of her and “Harry” on social media, and you can see some of those here.

Read the original story on Jaff Bosdet on Telemundo.

Mask-Wearing Policies Added to San Diego County's Public Health Order

In 2020, face masks became part of our daily wardrobe, part of the new normal.

In early April, as San Diego tried to “flatten the curve” of the coronavirus pandemic, San Diego County’s Public Health Order set its first-ever guidelines for mask-wearing in San Diego.

The order made it mandatory for employees of businesses that interact with the public to use face coverings. This included employees of grocery stores, pharmacies, gas stations and restaurants. At that point in the pandemic, members of the general public were not required to wear facial coverings but were urged to do so when out in public for essential activities.

That rule would change soon after that, requiring everyone to wear face masks while out in public in San Diego County – and it still stands more than 8 months later.

This story was a big update early in the pandemic, though, and certainly set the course for face masks and how they would become part of our daily lives in San Diego and beyond.

At this point, San Diego County was nearing 1,000 COVID-19 cases and 16 COVID-related deaths had been reported locally.

As of Dec. 13, the San Diego County Health and Human Services Agency confirmed there had been 107,372 COVID-19 cases in San Diego County and 1,162 deaths since health officials began tracking COVID locally on Feb. 14, 2020.

NBC 7's Claudette Stefanian explains who is ordered to wear face masks, and whether or not the general population should be wearing them too.

Nail Salons Will Be Different When They Reopen: Here’s What You Should Expect

The coronavirus pandemic took a lot from us in 2020 – including normal trips to the nail salon.

When the pandemic first shut down states across the country – including California – salons were among the businesses forced to go dark. And when nail salons were able to reopen, things were different.

Getting a manicure or pedicure during the pandemic came with many changes including making appointments in advance instead of just walking in and hoping for service. Face masks, more frequent handwashing and even the way in which customers picked out that perfect nail polish color also changed in the COVID-era.

TODAY Style touched on all those changes here.

San Diego Unified School District Changes Grading System to 'Combat Racism'

In October, the San Diego Unified School District announced an overhaul to the way it would grade students.

The district – which is the second largest in California – said students would no longer be graded based on a yearly average or on how late they turned in assignments. Board members said the overhaul of the grading system was part of a larger effort to “combat racism.”

Under SDUSD’s old system, data presented by the district showed that teachers fail minority students more than white students.

To change the racial imbalance, the SDUSD school board said academic grades would now focus on the mastery of the material, not the yearly average. Teachers can no longer consider non-material factors when grading, too. Things like turning work in on time and classroom behavior will now count toward an SDUSD student’s citizenship grade, not their academic grade.

The changes had a lot of San Diegans talking. Catch up on this story here.

There has been more pushback about a controversial grading policy approved by the San Diego Unified School District to "combat racism," this time, though, it's not from parents but from the teachers union that said educators need clarification, reports NBC 7's Rory Devine
NBC 7’s Mari Payton spoke to a Francis Parker School program director about their mission to change the curriculum in order to combat system racism.

Latest Cases, Impacts and More: What to Know About Coronavirus in SD County

As the coronavirus pandemic reached San Diego County in mid-March and went on to impact every facet of our lives, NBC 7 kept track of all of the updates from local public health officials here.

Every day, San Diego County public health officials share an update on the number of positive COVID-19 cases in the county, as well as COVID-related deaths.

This article – which NBC 7 continues to update daily – is a resource San Diego can count on to stay on top of the latest COVID-related developments impacting our community.

NBC 7 has also been keeping track of what happened in San Diego County month-by-month during the pandemic, and those links to April through November 2020 (and eventually December) can be found within the daily article on the latest COVID-19 impacts in San Diego.

For as long as we’re in this pattern, we will continue to provide updates in this way for coverage you count on.

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