COVID-19 Reopening Questions Answered, Wildfire Insurance Coverage, Hardship After Breadwinner Dies From COVID-19, And Kumeyaay Arrests Over Border Wall Protests
Speaker 1: 00:01 We'll get answers to your questions about how San Diego's COVID-19 data affects what can stay open. I'm Alison st. John and for Maureen cabinet, and this is KPBS midday. California's massive wildfires are having a direct effect on insurance policies. Speaker 2: 00:31 A hundred percent increase in non renewables throughout the state of California are directly to these fires Speaker 1: 00:39 And San Diego supervisors grapple with project home key that would use hotels to house the homeless plus the border patrol Holser Kumeyaay nation protest against building the border wall, honest ancestral lands. That's all ahead on mid-air dish. This week, San Diego County narrowly avoided more business closures and school reopening delays. The region's case rate placed us just below a threshold that would have triggered restrictions yet again, the back and forth over what can open and when has left San Diegans with many questions about reopening, and we asked you to share them with us KPBS health reporter Taren mento collected our audience's questions and asked infectious disease specialist, dr. Christian rammers to reply Speaker 2: 01:28 Dr. Ramers. Thank you for joining us today. Thanks for having me. So we have a lot of questions from our listeners. Let's see how many we can get in in the next 10 minutes. Steven Johnson asks, why are we not being told where the community outbreaks are located? He wonders why it's important to keep that information confidential when it could help people avoid contracting the virus. It's a good question. It's one that the press has been being has been asking the County officials really all along and different counties have taken different approaches to this. For example, Los Angeles County I think is very public with where the outbreaks are occurring. The response that I've heard from the County officials. And again, I don't work at the County, but in speaking for them, they've said that it is difficult to get contact tracing information when you basically publicly post this information. Speaker 2: 02:18 And as soon as people feel scared to provide information that makes that job a lot more difficult. And I will say KPBS has obtained some of that information by zip code and publish that. And we are part of a lawsuit that is against the County to provide more detailed information on the locations. Right? So I've heard our next question comes from listener, Jacob primers. Hi guys. My name is Jacob rhymers and my question was around opening up movie theaters in San Diego. Um, you know, are they open? I've heard that they're open and if they are, do you have to wear a mask when you, when you go? Good question. So we are all learning as we go about what can be open to what can be closed. Maybe this is a good time to talk about the States, uh, color coded opening criteria. So, you know, this is a, I would say science-based approach to how we should open up our society versus not we've seen over and over and over again in different countries, in different counties that when you open up too fast, things get out of control. Speaker 2: 03:18 One of the real kickers that people don't talk about is this stuff we do today shows up in two to three weeks. And what everyone's worried about is things getting out of control and then not being able to pull things back because of something called exponential spread, where you have a real multiplication of, uh, of those cases. So I'm bringing up the, uh, the state criteria here, movie theaters under the red tier, which we're currently in say that they can be open with modifications at a 25% maximum capacity or 100 people. Whichever is fewer. Now they don't address masks, but in terms of any risks that you have, whether it be being on an airplane, being out in public, being in movie theaters, I personally think universal masking is a good idea. It's worked incredibly well and there's great scientific data for it. Decreasing transmission in other settings. Speaker 3: 04:05 Next we'll hear from Mindy. Here's her question. Once a vaccine is approved, what would we expect rollout of the vaccine to look like? How long will it take, um, how else specific priority groups, um, be determined who gets to decide what those look like? Um, and at what point will vaccination coverage be considered high enough, uh, to allow for broader reopening of activities? Speaker 2: 04:30 Great question Mindy. So a lot of people are thinking about this right now. I think you heard the CDC director, Robert Redfield in front of Congress the other day, uh, alluding to this, that, you know, people just think it's going to be a switch that we flip and everybody gets the vaccine. That is not how it's going to happen. So there will be a limited amount of vaccine available in the beginning. And there are some very smart people thinking about how to phase this out. The one that I would refer you to is from the national Academy of sciences, engineering and medicine. Who's developed a very beautiful, um, uh, phased approach where phase one, two, three, and four sort of allowing the, uh, the populations at highest risk to go first, uh, with a lot of data and a lot of thought behind this, they've used our experience with pandemic, influenza, preparedness, Ebola vaccine, all this kind of stuff, even smallpox. Speaker 2: 05:15 And there's basically a phase one that, uh, gets a high, high risk healthcare workers are first in line, as well as first responders, such as firefighters and policemen phase one B would include everybody of all ages with comorbid and underlying conditions who are at the highest risk of dying of COVID. And then also included in phase one is older adults living in congregate settings. And that specifically nursing facilities phase two brings in more essential workers. And there's a detailed explanation of what an essential worker is. That includes people like farm workers, people working in meat, packing plants, um, teachers definitely also people of all ages with comorbid conditions, um, people in homeless shelters in group homes and congregate settings not included earlier, such as prisons and, and then phase three gets more to the general population with young adults, children, uh, other essential workers phase four would be everybody. Speaker 2: 06:05 Now the timeline of that obviously is going to take a while. So even if we have 10 million doses, by the end of the year, that's going to go to healthcare workers first, and then people with diabetes and hypertension, or, or who are older, who have highest risk. And the last thing I'll say is that, uh, we are already starting locally to discuss this, um, how it actually rolls out. We'll have to do with our existing systems with CDC and local health jurisdictions, but people are already starting to talk on the local level at San Diego County about how we're going to roll this out. Final part of your question is when do we get to herd immunity? Uh, the best modeling that I've seen is that we have to reach about 70% in order to have a real population effect of herd immunity. What does that mean? Speaker 2: 06:43 It means that the combination of having had COVID and having immunity from the actual infection, plus the number of people that get vaccinated needs to reach about 70%. And I'll tell you the one thing I'm very, very concerned about, and everybody, I know that's an infectious disease or public health doctor is concerned about. This is if we have enough vaccine hesitancy or reluctance of the population to get the vaccine, we may not get to that 70%. I've seen a recent survey that said 50% of Americans right now are prepared to get a vaccine. This is a moving target because of course it all depends on the transparency of the vaccine research protocols. Speaker 3: 07:18 Thank you. So our next question comes from Laura car. Here it is. How do we keep our kids and our family safe, if and when schools re reopen and require us the kids to go back to, Speaker 2: 07:30 Or this is a very complicated question. I don't know if I can answer it in one minute or less, but the one major point I think has been lost a little bit and not emphasized enough is that school based transmission is totally dependent on community-based transmission. Our schools are not isolated islands. They exist within communities, students that go to school, interact with older people who are their teachers, their administrators, they come home to older people who are their parents. They interact with their grandparents. A school is completely embedded in a community in places where we've seen successful face-to-face school. Reintegration have been places that have already flattened the curves so much in the community that it looks like it's safer. The CDC recently issued a, also a color coded guide to say, when it is safe to go back to school and it does have to do with basically community transmission as the most important factor. I think it's a little bit arbitrary to choose what level of community transmission is safe enough, but the people at the CDC sort of chose actual thresholds there. So that I would say is the overall point of when we know it's safe. Speaker 3: 08:32 This next question comes from a listener who's choosing to remain anonymous. They would like to know can dr. Ramers address the PCR cycle threshold being used in the labs that do stand Eva county's tests and explain why it is considered precise enough to dictate public policy and business in school. Reopenings. Speaker 2: 08:51 So let me start with what a PCR cycle threshold is. A PCR is a chemical reaction that amplifies very, very small amounts of DNA or RNA from a virus or a bacteria. The cycle threshold refers to how many of those cycles it takes to actually get a positive result. So the higher number you get, the lower amount of virus is actually there. What we've seen is that in people, for example, who get infected with COVID and they have a positive PCR test, if we were to test them after their infection, in many cases, it stays positive for weeks, six weeks. I had a patient who had an eight week positive, um, COVID test after being sick. And we know that person is probably not infectious. So the question is, is PCR too sensitive, and there's a lot of discussion about bringing in a different kind of test like an antigen test, which really would only detect those who are very, very infectious at the initial rates of infection versus a PCR, which really is, is a very, very sensitive test. Speaker 2: 09:48 And some people have said too sensitive. Now I think the question is getting at maybe over counting cases and counting positive PCRs as people that maybe don't necessarily have severe enough COVID, but really that's the standard test that we have right now. Uh, and PCR tests are really the best that we have. So they are the most sensitive and the most specific tests that we have right now, I will address the question and say that a positive PCR after somebody has already been diagnosed with COVID is pretty useless. We can actually not use that, but that's not used in the case count. Initially, it's just a single positive that tells us if somebody has COVID, you do not need to have a followup test. Once you've been positive. Once we use days and symptoms of 10 days and being symptom-free in terms of determining infectiousness, the next question is one that we hear a lot, and this one comes from Chris Davis or wondering why the kids haven't been a higher priority as, uh, all of the plans have sort of manifested or making all these innovations to allow restaurants to open outdoors and now indoors, and to do all these things. Speaker 2: 10:47 And just wondering why there hasn't been a more concerted effort to make things work for kids. Boy, that's a really important question. I think in a cynical way, we would say that, you know, kids don't generate major economic productivity, the way that bars and restaurants do. Uh, it's a, it's a philosophical question that I think we need to think about as a society. What's more important to us open bars or open schools. Well, we have run out of time. Thank you, dr. Ramers so much for your expertise and taking the time to answer these questions. Thank you. Appreciate it. Speaker 1: 11:23 More than 6,000 buildings have been destroyed in the wildfires around California so far this summer, some homeowners have discovered that it's no longer possible to get insurance for their homes at a rate they can afford California's insurance commissioner. Ricardo Lara is calling for a public input at a hearing next month. That will look at how to stabilize the insurance industry while protecting lives and property insurance commissioner, Lara, thank you so much for joining us. Thank you. It's great to be on. So now why are you holding this and what kind of input are you really looking for? Speaker 4: 11:56 Right. So, you know, we've seen these unprecedented fires really have put California on a collision course with extreme wildfires, with tremendous impact, not only to homeowners businesses, but to our public health. And so this hearing essentially is gonna, uh, seek to pro get information from the public and from our first responders and from firefighters and fire experts about how do we develop standardized home hardening standards? How do we give more transparency for consumers about their welfare risk scores? And also how do we create incentives? Uh, so that consumers recognize, uh, what home hardening is and what discounts, if any, we can give so that we continue to incentivize homeowners should do the right thing. Speaker 1: 12:41 Well, that raises the question of, do you see your role as protecting the insurance industry or the consumer? Where's your primary allegiance here? Speaker 4: 12:50 You know, we don't have to choose. We can do both. We as the insurance commissioner, uh, overseeing the largest insurance market. Uh, my responsibility is to both to ensure that we provide affordable and available insurance for our consumers and provide adequate consumer protections and that we protect this market so that people can get their claims paid accordingly. So I, I do essentially both roles. Uh, and so this hearing is gonna allow us to really get the information that we need on how do we continue to incentivize consumers to do the right thing, get them the resources they need so that they can continue harming their homes and also create community wide mitigation standards, not just at the individual parcel, but community-wide now because, you know, we hear time and time again when I've gone to different communities, you know, I've done everything to protect my property, but my neighbor has it, Speaker 1: 13:44 Do you have an estimate or, or how do you quantify how many California homeowners are now facing the future with no homeowner insurance? Because they either cannot afford it anymore or were denied Speaker 4: 13:56 Over 200% increase in non renewables throughout the state of California are directly linked to these fires. And so what we want is one, we want to create these mitigation standards so that in turn, once the homeowner and the consumer does the hard work of Harding, their home, that they get a guarantee that they're going to be able to find coverage in the community. Currently insurance companies are asking homeowners to invest thousands of dollars. And yet there's no guarantee that they're going to find coverage, you know, send you a County is one of the eight counties that saw greater than 10% increase in non renewables from 2017 to 2018. Those are our latest numbers and statewide average around, uh, is a 3% increase in our renewals. So San Diego has been definitely impacted by now non-renewal of insurance companies. Okay. So AB 2367, Speaker 1: 14:52 Which did not pass this year, which you had supported would have required insurers to continue insuring anyone who took certain actions to far harden their homes. So explain what fire hardening your home means. Speaker 4: 15:05 You know, home Harding examples are replacing your wood shake roof, which we know reduce your likelihood of having a major loss, less expensive fixes such as replacing your exterior events with Ember resistant mesh events are things that are important, of course, addressing vegetation within five feet of your home to reduce any contact points. But now the other thing we're working on is how do we, um, how do we scale this to the community level so that communities understand what they need to do given their typography and their own climate and environment. And right now there's currently no statewide standards that look at what a community needs to do. Speaker 1: 15:45 So even though this measure that would have perhaps provided some funding to do that, that failed this year, do you hold out any hope that it will come back in the future and what would need to change for it to pass? Do you think Speaker 4: 15:55 We expect to reintroduce us to such a station that really again, uh, get something for the consumer, right? Speaker 1: 16:03 Well, of course the fire risk could actually affect where developers are allowed to develop in that rural, urban interface. So this particular legislation is, is particularly important, right? Speaker 4: 16:15 Exactly. We need to have an honest conversation about land use and how we rebuild and where are we built, uh, and you know, to not do so. I think we do it at our own peril. Speaker 1: 16:27 Have some insurance companies already pulled out of California, do you think, or is there a risk that they might a large number of the might in the near future as a result of these wildfires? Speaker 4: 16:37 No, there hasn't been an insurance company that's pulled out of California. We in California have the largest insurance market in the country, fourth or fifth in the world. So insurance companies, you know, are still very profitable in other insurance lines. So it's not that, you know, although they often threatened to leave California when they say that, um, they don't, they're talking about the homeowner's market, not necessarily all the other lines. So, you know, the, the object here is to continue to monitor the homeowners insurance market, uh, and guarantee that the consumers are going to get something, as we know, rates are inevitably going to continue to go up in certain parts of the state where wildfires continue to be prone. And what we're saying is they should get mitigation discounts. They should get a guarantee of coverage and they should, uh, create and work with the insurance industry to let them know in a way that's transparent, how they can lessen this fire risk score, as opposed to just being assigned these scores without an opportunity to mitigate and to understand why they're getting these scores. Are there any other legislative actions that you're Speaker 1: 17:50 Thinking of taking that could help to, to balance the situation? Speaker 4: 17:54 Well, I think we're looking in terms of our regulatory authority of figuring out how do we, um, incentivizing insurance companies, to be honest about what their actual rate is going to be, uh, as opposed to just continuing to undercut these increases, um, and trying to avoid public scrutiny, which then just exacerbates a problem. Speaker 1: 18:20 Can people submit testimony to your October hearing? Speaker 4: 18:24 So we're encouraging, um, our community and, and our consumers to, uh, please log onto our email@example.com. Um, we are, we're taking all testimony and look forward to having a fruitful, um, hearing that's going to lead to some, um, substantial changes for the state of California, as we try to recommend with climate change and these growing wildfires. Speaker 1: 18:51 We've been speaking with California's insurance commissioner, Ricardo, Lara commissioner, Laura. Thank you so much. Speaker 4: 18:58 Thank you so much. Yeah. Speaker 1: 19:11 Listening to KPBS midday edition I'm Alison st. John infer, Maureen kavanah one new approach to housing. The homeless is to purchase motels and convert them into housing units. It appears to be a win, win situation, but there have already been bumps in the road to implementing the idea this week, San Diego County supervisors withdrew an application to purchase a motel in Lamesa and convert it to homeless housing. After the Lamesa city council objected, it was a three to two vote and San Diego supervisor, Diane. Jacob was one of those who voted no on the project. She joins us now welcome to midday. Addition, supervisor Jacob. Now, homelessness is obviously a huge challenge facing the region. Do you support the idea of using motels to provide housing for them? Speaker 5: 19:55 Oh, absolutely. I think it's a great idea. The problem with this situation is the process and the process was grossly flawed. The city of Mesa has a very robust plan for housing homeless and for affordable housing. And they, they would have been happy to work with the developer, excuse me, with the County in order to purchase property or another location of a motel or hotel, but they didn't have that chance to do it. They're basically blindsided by this project. So the city didn't want it. The residents didn't want it. And in a very short amount of time that they had to respond. That was the resounding no from the city of Lamesa and I, the city and I respect what they're trying to do. And I am a big supporter of providing homeless services in the County. We've spent hundreds of millions of dollars on mental health and addiction treatment. Every year in our current budget, we have $250 million for housing, the homeless and in the unincorporated area, which is the area that we have the jurisdiction over. We've had 512 people that have been placed in hotels this year alone. So yes, I support it. Speaker 1: 21:20 Lamesa city council had been for it. You would have supported it. Yeah. Why would you say motels are an ideal way of solving the issue and what are the drawbacks to that? Speaker 5: 21:31 The motels and, and even the hotels. And in this case, the city would have lost about a half, a million dollars in revenue each year, uh, by converting this, this hotel into a residential development. So it'd be a loss of revenue, but the reason I support it, they already exist. So in a lot of cases, you get a better deal because the facility is there and after the due diligence has been done, if it is something that would work for a conversion, it probably is easier than to do then starting from scratch. But again, there'd have to be thorough due diligence to make sure that it works. Speaker 1: 22:13 State money is what is being spent in project home key is this permanent or temporary bridge housing, Speaker 5: 22:22 It's temporary housing. And my understanding that a resident would only live there maybe one to two years, and then they wouldn't move on and then go somewhere else, which is another problem. And that gets into the whole affordable housing issue, which again goes back to our $50 million trust fund, which has been very successful so far. And we've leveraged, we've leveraged over $450 million through the public private partnership. So it's a, it's a good deal for taxpayers and we're building affordable housing. Speaker 1: 22:57 Um, no, the city of San Diego housing commission had said it would spend almost 20 million on acquiring hotels for the homeless, but they backed away from a plan to buy 10 motels because they said those buildings had too many problems. It would cost too much to remodel. So as the County looking to spend significant money on upgrading purchase properties, or are you looking for properties already in excellent condition? Speaker 5: 23:20 The County has put up, uh, a lot of County property through our housing trust fund, the 50 million I mentioned earlier. And that's, that's a partnership in inviting developers in which has been a very successful program so far. So whether it's an existing motel or hotel that could be converted, or if it's a vacant piece land, and again, what the County putting up County property, there is no cost to the property so we can get a better deal. Now, the costs associated with this are not just for the building, the roof over the head, as it were, there would need to be other services attached to it, right, to make it work the way this whole, the whole package would be for a complete services. And, and, but the problem with this particular project and through the home key program, there is no guaranteed that the residents who would come off the street, which is a good thing, but the bad thing is there's no requirement to have them go into whatever services they need, whether it's mental health or addiction or whatever the needs are. Speaker 5: 24:36 That's a problem for me. I understand there were two members of the supervisors who did support the project. Um, and obviously the County has to find locations to put these projects. Do you have any other locations in mind? Well, we're again, working with the cities, we're working in the unincorporated area, which is within our jurisdiction. And I've been working with residents in spring Valley and in Lakeside in particular, which have the largest homeless population. And we've done a lot. As I mentioned earlier, we've put 512 people we've taken them off the streets and we put them into hotels through our voucher program. So we're, we have three steps to our program. One is the hotel motel voucher program, which we immediately are getting people off the streets. The second is for intermediate housing and then the permanent affordable housing. So there's a continuum here of care. And the whole goal is to get people off the street, provide them the services that they need and get them to be able to live self-sufficiency, to maintain in the end. That takes time. And it's taken a lot of money, but it's, it's an investment that the County is making in a very big way. We've been speaking with San Diego supervisor, Diane, Jacob, supervisor, Jacob. Thank you so much. Thank you. Alison Speaker 5: 26:19 People have experienced COVID in different ways for some communities. The aftereffects of the disease are so great that the future looks unclear. KP vis reporter, Tonya thorn talks to a family who lost their main breadwinner to COVID-19 and how they're coping to get back on their feet. And [inaudible] died on August 22nd from damages left behind by COVID-19. He spent six weeks on a before having to be Speaker 6: 26:44 Disconnected originally from Wahaca. Mikiko Maldonado came to the U S 35 years ago and spent over 25 years in the roofing industry in San Diego. But my father was 68 years old retirement was not an option, at least not for him. Godman [inaudible] says the loss of her father is something. The family is still trying to process emotionally and financially. He lived with my mom majorly. So of course he was the bigger income there. And when we got coed, you know, we were out of work for a whole month. This was definitely not something we were planning to go through. My [inaudible] wasn't insured. When the pandemic hit, he was also undocumented before being hospitalized. He feared the cost of medical care and being deported. If he sought help of fear that lives in many Latinos, Roberto Alcantar with the Chicano Federation says many Latinos have recently found themselves in this situation. Speaker 5: 27:47 We've seen the Latino community completely devastated in terms of positive cases that have been identified with, with cases being close to 71% of the cases that are positive are in the Latino community. Yet the Latino community is about 34% of the population in San Diego County. Speaker 6: 28:04 I can say some of the factors contributing to the high positive cases are Latinos working more frontline jobs and frequenting public transportation. They may also have underlying health conditions and a lack of access to healthcare and many Latinos live in multigenerational households. My Lonovo met all those criteria as a roofer. He frequently interacted with different people. He was diabetic, had no access to healthcare and live with his wife, children, and grandchildren. All of these elements made him more susceptible to catching COVID-19. And as the main breadwinner in the household, Margo nother remained at work during the restrictions as roofing jobs comp busier [inaudible] for many Latinos, working from home is a luxury that they don't have or simply can't afford. Speaker 5: 28:50 And we see that every day, we talk to folks who aren't these essential workers who say, I'm sorry, but I have no choice. You know, if I don't work today, I might not be able to pay rent tomorrow. Speaker 6: 29:00 Or recent SANDAG report says rent food utilities, transportation and childcare expenses are just some of the top needs of San Diego households needs that Latino families often struggle to meet paycheck to paycheck in July Marlowe. Now though, his wife and several family members were diagnosed with COVID-19 with no insurance. The family had to pay out of pocket to see a doctor and get tested expenses that muzzle another's wife, Marianna Lausanne says, began to add up since their COVID diagnosis. [inaudible] Latinos. She says Latino families like us live day by day, just to pay rent, pay bills. We don't have enough leftover to save money. Now for me, it's going to be more difficult because my partner is gone. Uncle is a legal us resident working on camp Pendleton, she and her husband planned to return to Wahaca, to retire in January. Those plans have now changed forcing young fellas to depend on our children for financial support while Mondo nother was approved for emergency medical, the family still hasn't seen a final hospital bill. She said, it's a shame after all the years of working here, we have nothing built here. Tonya thorn KPBS news. Speaker 1: 30:19 The story was produced with support from the journalism, nonprofit economic hardship reporting project. A week's long protest to stop construction of the border wall in San Diego is East County came to an end this week when border patrol agents arrested two members of the Kumiai nation of mission Indians, KPBS reporter max revel, and Adler has been following the story and joins us now welcome max. So now remind us why the QBI nation has been trying to stop the wall from being built. Speaker 7: 30:54 The objections of the kunai nation have been, you know, basically about the process by which this wall is being built there. This area, uh, that has always fell on, on their kind of tribal Homeland has never not been without any border wall infrastructure or any kind of border security for at least the past 20 to 30 years. So even a smaller wall has been at the play, uh, at these locations and, uh, border patrol, um, infrastructure, including roads has always been there, but the wall itself is, is a huge, um, engineering endeavor. So they're going deep into the ground. They're building huge access roads to be able to get the machinery. They need to go up and down the side of mountains. And basically, um, what they're contesting is that, uh, they're, they're not doing their due diligence in terms of, uh, preserving cultural artifacts or burial sites that they might find on this land. So that, um, basically, you know, in previous iterations of construction on this, on this land, even when SDG and E does a project or something like that, there's a lot of consultation that goes on between the tribes and the U S government and the private company. And this just wasn't done in this case. Speaker 1: 32:03 What sort of artifacts have they found there? Speaker 7: 32:06 I just have found remnants of, of gathering sites of old towns that have been in use, including burial sites, uh, people, uh, th the way that the CUNY a nation, um, has their ceremony for, for people that have died as they're cremated. So they found cremated remains. Um, they, they found other kind of, um, artifacts that indicate that this was a gathering place for the community nation and one that they would like to see preserved. Speaker 1: 32:34 So what exactly happened on Monday, Speaker 7: 32:36 A protest that is not necessarily the only protest that has been going on because there have actually been several different Comea protests that have been happening some with more direct input from the tribe, others with less input from the tribe and, and kind of, um, more, more interested in just stopping the wall in general. This was a, uh, occupation on the land, um, East of Campo in this Valley that has been scheduled to be kind of essentially blown out to build the border wall. And so on Monday, the Bureau of land management came out and said that they were going to issue a, um, closure order saying that any, uh, people who are occupying that space, which they had been doing for most of the past month had to leave and under penalty of law. And so within an hour border patrol came out to enforce that new closure order and remove the protesters within that hour. And two of those individuals were arrested. Speaker 8: 33:29 The United States border patrol, you were ordered to be vacating from this plant as per the mint or emergency closure. Speaker 7: 33:37 You're there. That was the border patrol, uh, while there was a native ceremony happening at the site, I'm enacting these arrested and kicking the protesters off of this land. Speaker 1: 33:47 What was the legal basis for the arrests? Speaker 7: 33:50 The Bureau of land management actually controls that land. They had transferred control of it over to the army. Uh, the department of defense as part of a presidential proclamation to build the border wall last year, the army, uh, then had the army Corps of engineers designed the border wall, which was then given to contractors, uh, to build. So it's a bit of a convoluted kind of web here, but it is Bureau of land management land, and they are allowed to close land as they see fit, whether they followed the right process here and gave enough notice, uh, is questionable. A lot of protestors were pointing at the fact that the closure order, which they had just learned an hour before they were ordered off the land was dated two days before the actual closure. And they were only given an hour notice. So in terms of the actual intricacies of when BLM is able to issue a closure order, we know when it comes to things like wildfires and forest fires, they do it relatively quickly. But even then there's a few hours of notice for people to get off lands. So this is something that protesters are going to be looking at and maybe challenging. But at the end of the day, you know, the people who have control over who can go and walk around would be the Bureau of land management for this, these public lands, Speaker 1: 34:59 A U S district judge denied a restraining order that they'd filed last month, uh, on what grounds, Speaker 7: 35:05 Right? So this was a legal challenge to the wall from the LA Posta band of mission Indians. They were challenging the, um, lack of consultation between the U S government and native groups as to the heritage sites. So in terms of actually stopping the wall, it was stopping the construction and the way it was being done. So it was trying to slow it down in other words, so that actual, um, you know, uh, research into what was being destroyed could be done. Uh, the judge in this case, a federal district judge, um, Anthony Bataglia, Speaker 9: 35:38 He denied that requesting that basically they hadn't met any of the requirements that they needed to prove that irreparable harm was being done and that a temporary restraining order needs to be made on top of that. He basically kicked the can down the road to oral arguments, which will happen in several weeks and a lot of the QA protestors and the, you know, basically agree that by then the wall will be done. So right now they're challenging to the ninth circuit court of appeals and arguments they're scheduled for December. But of course the courts move much slower than construction, which is why several protesters opted for direct action. Speaker 1: 36:18 We've been speaking with KPBS reporter Maxwell and Adler max. Thanks very much. Speaker 9: 36:22 Thanks for having me. Speaker 1: 36:29 [inaudible] you're listening to KPBS midday edition. I'm Alison st. John and for Maureen Kavanaugh, animal Cracker conspiracy taps into the history of puppetry being both used for art and politics. The San Diego based puppet company just launched the society of wonder for LA Jolla Playhouse is digital wow. Or without walls festival KPBS arts reporter Bethel commando speaks with artists, Bridgette, Roundtree, and Ian Gunn about their new show and the craft of puppetry. So animal Cracker conspiracy has been asked to partake in this year's wild festival with LA Jolla Playhouse. So what was this process like in terms of determining what you wanted to do? Speaker 9: 37:17 We've been working on this society of wonder for the past four years. And so it is a project that was really close to us and we had been working on it. So we thought this was a perfect opportunity to pitch that to the Playhouse, though, it took on a different form than we had originally thought it was intended to be a live performance with the pandemic that changed into us, making it into a series, a short live action epitopes we've been studying secret societies that are original idea. Many of them, especially in America, in the teams, twenties and thirties, was to do good on to others. So they would be groups of people who would join secretly and then endeavor to help their neighbors or help their city or town. Whereas a lot of what people believe is that secret societies are nefarious and they're trying to create havoc. And we do see that today. So we wanted to set a different idea out there that we need to talk about these things we need to gather together. We need to think about positive things that we can do. Of course, our whole ethos as puppeteers is to play with quite absurd ways of dealing with material like that. So this little show that we made has come out of all of that research, but in a comical twist. Speaker 10: 38:39 So what can people expect from this online experience, Speaker 9: 38:42 A mysterious series of five minute videos that introduce you to five unexpected characters who are brought together through coincidence, serendipity, and happenstance to form a society that reflects or is empowered by their gifts, their uniqueness, it's kind of a production that has arisen out of the inability to get things that you need right now. We've made everything in house Speaker 10: 39:20 Using recycled materials, Speaker 9: 39:23 It's all cardboard and masking tape. So what we want people to experience is the wonder of what our human imagination is capable of in terms of taking crude and easily accessible materials and turning them into a story, creating a world out of that. And we want people to slowly be drawn in. It's a Fillmore, it's a homage to cereals like the Crimson Avenger and things like that from the thirties and forties Speaker 10: 39:52 Convey a little bit of what your puppets look like because you talk about using recycled material and it has this very kind of do it yourself. Retro vintage-y feel, but also kind of surreal and other worldly. So how do you describe what this looks like to someone who maybe hasn't seen it before, Speaker 9: 40:14 Before you went to Bali in search of traditional shadow puppetry? I mean, we weren't able to experience that. So we went to Java and when we were in Jakarta, we saw some live shadow puppetry, and we also experienced Wang Golich, which is like the street puppets that are used in Java and Bali and other parts of Indonesia. So we, we created these puppets styled after wedding Golich, but in a Western way where we tried a bunch of different techniques. So even in wine go like they'll have like moving mouth's tilting heads, and then the hands of the puppets are on rods. So any puppeteer could actually hold all three rods, the central rod, the two arm rods in one hand and manipulate that with manual dexterity and then also have another puppet. So when we were first developing this film, we did a lot of the shots where I would literally be holding the iPhone in a DJI Osmo, mobile to gimbal and puppeteering all with my other hand. Speaker 9: 41:18 But description of the puppets, they really kind of came out of a kind of comic book, ethos, carved the heads out of styrofoam and Bridget night paper, ms. Shade, them. And she added in texture of vintage newspapers. There's actually, and language like embedded into their faces and into their arms. And we create, we wanted to create a kind of a, a cross section in six characters of our society. It's meant to be a world very much like our own. So it's an alternate reality, but it relates, I think, to a lot of the issues that we're dealing with environmentally, socially and politically definitely with an absurd tone. And that feels very timely right now because the pandemic, environmental collapse, fascism racism, all of these things are in our faces every day right now. So at some point it starts to feel absurd. Speaker 10: 42:16 Sure. I've had the privilege of seeing your work over the years and you guys have always had a social consciousness to your work. And you've noted that that is kind of in the history of puppetry as well, that there's this sense of using puppetry for commentary. Speaker 9: 42:33 The most famous example of that is the Daisy shows that happened in Czechoslovakia or the Czech Republic during Nazi occupation, where puppeteers would put on little shows in the underground or underground spaces to pass on information, hidden amongst jokes and things that the puppets were doing. One of the things that we always deal with and our enduring fascination with puppetry and its traditions around the world is this dual nature that it's for children and for adults. And so that's what we really wanted to capture as well with this series that kids are going to appreciate the art and the movements and the action. And I think adults will appreciate the sort of innuendo the apocryphal feel and the allegorical aspects of it. Yeah. I mean, historically even, you know, in medieval times, puppetry was used to comment on the current aristocracy of the time and what was going on. Speaker 9: 43:37 And it's always been an art form that is somewhat peripheral to the center. And so it doesn't have the same status as visual art, fine art theater. It's always kind of been the bastard child of those. So there's a certain power that you have the possibility to, to comment and say things that humans can't necessarily get away with saying it's something that's kind of considered maybe for children, or are not seen as, uh, as something that could potentially have a dangerous message or political message or social message. And so it's been able to kind of hide in plain sight and comment and do things for centuries and has been used that way, which we always love that. And think it's a, it's a powerful tool in that way because it's largely and unrecognized as that. Speaker 1: 44:34 I want to thank you very much for talking about your wild project. Speaker 9: 44:37 Well, thank you guys. Great to talk to you. Speaker 1: 44:41 That was Bethel commando speaking with Bridget Roundtree Indian gun of animal Cracker conspiracy there show the society of wonder is now available through the LA Jolla. Playhouse is digital. Wow.