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Stimulus Checks Rolling Out, How Local Police Handling Arrests, Added Stress Plus Fact Checking Public Health Officials On Coronavirus

 April 15, 2020 at 11:09 AM PDT

Speaker 1: 00:00 The nuts and bolts of our federal stimulus payments and the County supervisor weighs in on lifting pandemic restrictions here. I'm Mark Sauer along with Alison st John. This is KPBS midday edition. It's Wednesday, April 15th. Our top story today, governor Gavin Newsome today lauded employment development department workers for retraining quickly and helping fellow Californians get benefit payments during the Corona virus crisis Speaker 2: 00:38 in the last four weeks. 2.7 million Californians have formerly filed for unemployment insurance. Uh, we are in the process right now of dealing with an unprecedented number of people making phone calls into our EDD department, our employment development department. We are trying to process these applications and we're trying to turn around those applications. Uh, in real time. Speaker 1: 01:03 He said the call center where Californians can get answers about unemployment benefits will be extended from 8:00 AM to 8:00 PM beginning now. Check the website of the California employment development department, for toll free numbers for various helplines and saying we are far from being quote out of the woods. Newsome also reported 63 additional deaths from the virus for a total of quote 821 families lives torn asunder now in California. The governor also announced a plan to offer bonus pay to workers across the state. Those working in essential endeavors from hospitals to police and fire stations and grocery stores. Meanwhile, millions of California and should be seeing stimulus money from the federal government in their bank accounts this week. Others will be getting mail checks in the coming weeks. Checks bearing the name of president Donald J. Trump. The goal is to get the money quickly circulating in the battered economy. Joining me to discuss stimulus check details is the Los Angeles times reporter Jack Harris. Jack, welcome to midday edition. Thanks. Well, this stimulus money is part of this 2 trillion a stimulus package that Congress passed recently beyond trying to help people make it through the economic shutdown. What's the immediate goal of these checks? Speaker 3: 02:22 Yeah. The hope is that it will help kickstart the economy a little bit in the short term by not just giving money to people who have lost their jobs, who have been on or been put on furlough in recent weeks, but also give it to people who still have their jobs, who will be more willing to take these checks and actually spend them to pump a little bit of money back into the economy at a time when consumer purchases are, are, are really needed. Speaker 1: 02:49 Yeah. And since, uh, our economy is 70% consumer spending, you can see how important that is now. Who's going to receive this money and how much money can people expect? Speaker 3: 02:58 Yeah, so generally with Speaker 1: 03:00 the individual adjusted gross income of $75,000 or less annually, we'll get the full 12 or $1,200 check. If you're a couple that files your taxes together, that number as $150,000 or a Wes, uh, individuals who make up to $99,000 or couples who make up to 198,000, $1,000 will get a reduced payment. There's a a scale it goes down a little bit for, for those people, but basically in their head of household filers have a higher threshold and there's some other details, but for the most part, you're an individual make $75,000 or less, you'll get the full 1200 and those that have a children under 17, they get an extra 500 per child. Is that right? Speaker 3: 03:44 Yeah. Right. So if you qualify for that first one, any, any kids you have or independent, you have under 17, you'll also get the extra 500 per kid. Speaker 1: 03:52 And uh, I think, uh, we're seeing a lot of these folks are getting their checks, uh, even today and direct deposit, right? Speaker 3: 03:58 Yeah. That's a, that's been the, that's how most people will receive their checks. The IRS is using a bank account information that people use to file either 20, 18 or 2019 tax returns, whatever had been their most recent returns with this year's that mine pushed back to July. Um, and that should cover the majority of people who qualify for these payments. Uh, we'll, we'll get them in direct deposit straight into their bank accounts. Speaker 1: 04:23 And if somebody banking info has changed since they initially gave it to the IRS, Speaker 3: 04:27 right. So the IRS OPIR created a, an online portal and on an online website where people can go online, change their information if they need to, they can track their payments to see if they have gotten theirs. People will also get a notice in the mail within 15 days of when the money's put into their account. But yes, as of this week, if you are someone who thinks that your banking information might be different, you can go on the IRS website, they have a under their coronavirus section and find a, uh, uh, an area where you can go in and update your information if you need to. Speaker 1: 04:56 And there was a report today that portal spend kind of inundated and there's delay messages on it now. Speaker 3: 05:01 Right? Yeah. And, and you know, that was something that wasn't even opened by the time these checks started going out. That's been one of the things that, uh, people have been a little uneasy about just because it's been a little unclear when it was going to open, how easy it will be for people. Um, you know, something this scale, uh, whenever you have to try to go in and fix things manually might, you might run into issues. So, uh, yeah, that has been one of the areas where people, you know, have been a little unsure if they've had to do that about what exactly they've had to do that the IRS is hoping that this, this portal is, you know, as the days go on it'll run a little bit more smoothly. But yeah, it's been one of the obstacles that they've been facing so far with, with these people who do have different banking information than what the IRS originally had found. Speaker 1: 05:43 Now what I've usually got your tax refund with a paper check in the mail and the IRS doesn't have that account on file digitally. Speaker 3: 05:50 Right. So if the IRS does not have any sort of bank account information for you, you can go in and add it using, you know, that, you know, updating your information for them. If you don't do that, the IRS will start cutting paper checks to people, but that will be the, there there's going to be a couple of different rounds of payments that go out the current, this first current round of payments going out to tax filers who did have bank account information starting next week, probably they'll start sending out checks to social security recipients who also gave the IRS their bank account information through, you know, social security forms. Then after that, probably starting in may is when the paper checks will go out. Now the IRS can only send out a certain amount of paper checks each week, the numbers about 5 million. Uh, so you know, there, there will be a bit of a backlog that the IRS is afraid and sending out paper checks. They're going to start and reverse order of people's income. So the people who make the least amount of money will get their checks first. But it could lead to delays of weeks or months for some people who are waiting on paper checks and who might make a little bit more. Speaker 1: 06:53 Now the Washington post is reporting. Donald Trump's name's going to be on the checks. That's definitely not standard practice, right? Speaker 3: 07:00 No, it is not usually a, a dispersing officer at a payment center. Their names are the ones who are on, you know, your normal tax return checks or anything like that. And even some of the early checks that have gone out under this deal had, did not have his name on them. The ones going forward will, uh, it's led to some political discussion. Of course, the president said that, you know, this isn't a political issue. Chuck Schumer ever pointed out, you know, uh, this president must think that that, uh, quote, you know, the, the crisis revolves around him and his desires, his needs, his MNA enemies. So, you know, it's one of these things where in a time like this, any sort of political move, uh, is gonna be dissected. And obviously when you do something that is unprecedented and unusual, not standard operating practices, it's gonna raise some eyebrows. Speaker 1: 07:49 And what about the people who don't make enough money to file taxes? What should they do? Speaker 3: 07:53 Yeah, so I'm on the IRS website. There is another section, it's called a non filers application. So that is where somebody who, yeah, like you said, either doesn't meet the minimum income threshold to be required to file annual tax returns. They can go on there now and input their information and just you know, simple stuff like your bank account information, how much they make to make sure that a, they get qualified for the payments and that be the IRS knows where to send the money. That is something that had been open as of last week before the payments started going out. Now you know this doesn't apply to most social security recipients who don't normally file tax returns. Like I said, the IRS has direct deposit information for almost 99% of of of those people and and are using the information they get just through the normal social security forms that people have to file. Speaker 1: 08:42 And this is a pretty big task, a big rollout for the IRS. And we talked about the site launch today being inundated. Have you heard of any other issues at this point in the process? Speaker 3: 08:52 You know, some of the things that people have criticized, it doesn't cover most college students. If you're a dependent, you're not eligible for payments. Now there's a crossover usually, you know, on a normal tax returns. Um, if you're 24 or younger and a college student, then you can be claimed as a dependent. But of course under this deal, that $500 extra payment you get for having children stops it for any child at the age of 17. So there's a lot of kids and students between the ages of 18 and 24 who can't file for the $1,200 check themselves and who parents also won't be getting a $500 extra payment as well. Uh, and then, you know, there's just the uncertainty that comes with, uh, an unclear order of payments. You know, I've heard from, from some people who have wondered why their friends have gotten their checks and they haven't yet. Speaker 3: 09:44 Why if they file separately of, of like their spouse, why their spouse has gotten their payment and they haven't yet. I think that's been one of the things that's caused the most unrest and that's why the IRS is hoping this, this new website they've launched where people can go in and track their information will be helpful. But again, even that has, has not run as smoothly as a, as the IRS would have hoped so far. But on the whole it'll probably take some time to know if there are bigger picture issues about this. I've been speaking with Los Angeles times reporter Jack Harris. Thanks very much for joining us. I appreciate it. Speaker 4: 10:19 Uh, Speaker 5: 10:20 San Diego County health officials reported 83 more coronavirus cases and six more deaths yesterday, even as the curve in the region continues to flatten slightly. The latest numbers come as the Del Mar fair board announced the cancellation of the 2020 County fair after governor Newsome said yesterday that mass gatherings are not likely to be allowed for the foreseeable future. Joining us now to discuss the latest Cove in 19 developments in San Diego is County supervisor Nathan Fletcher, who's been leading the counties daily coronavirus press briefings. Thank you so much for joining us. Supervisor Fletcher. Thank you for having me. So yesterday the governor shared his strategy for approaching an end to coronavirus restrictions and they include more testing, protecting vulnerable residents, expanding hospital capacity before lifting those restrictions. He said local authorities would have quote a profound and outsize influence on this is San Diego County on the same page as the governor on his six guiding principles. Speaker 6: 11:17 We are. And it really tracks very closely with a number of internal conversations and efforts and in large part, the way we're structured. Um, I do want to, I want to be clear though, what the governor is talking about and what's being contemplated, uh, is a gradual easing of restrictions, not a point in time lifting of all. Um, and I think it is important to note that as we move forward through this process, um, this six point in there, the governor reiterated was that there may be the dial may get turned into listening. Uh, we may see concerning or troubling things, uh, similar to what they're seeing in Singapore for example. And then we may have to dial some of those back. The hope is obviously that as we begin the easy, and we can continue on a steady state as we move through, but there really are a number of factors that have to be considered and all of the sacrifice that's been made and all of the effort that has been taken, uh, we don't want to waste, uh, by, by undoing and, and to rash away or, or, or an unjustified way they could lead us right back to the situation right now. Speaker 6: 12:16 That really is of utmost important that we get this right not only to protect public health and protect life, uh, but to protect the integrity of the economy. As we begin to come back, we would like to hopefully come back on smoothest trajectory as possible. Speaker 5: 12:29 Right? But will the County have the final say on when and exactly how to lift the restrictions Speaker 6: 12:34 that, that that really is to, to be determined? I think, I think what the governor alluded to was was counties are in very different situations. They're in very different places. Uh, they have different economic bases. They have different public health positioning. Uh, here in San Diego we moved much earlier than many other counties declaring a state of emergency a month before we had a single positive case. Uh, I would say we are doing much better than, than most other urban counties in California. And so I think that what you will see, uh, is not necessarily a one size fits all state approach. Uh, but some discretion given to counties really based on their ability to comply, uh, or have a plan to address the six core areas that the governor outlined. And we are working tirelessly on each of those six. And then governor's announcement helps us sharpen our focus on those core areas, which really are the key things you need to begin to be able to ease the restrictions and, and start the recovery process. Speaker 5: 13:28 I mean Newsome did mention that widespread testing would be critical. What is San Diego's current testing capacity? Speaker 6: 13:34 Well, we're assessing in real time with the what the capacity is there. There's really two questions and it is important to note that when we talk about testing, um, it's not like a pregnancy test that you break out of a kid and you do something to and it gives you a result. Uh, one analogy that's been used in the past is you may have a printer, uh, but if you don't have toner and you don't have paper, it's not functionally a printer. And so we are working, we have an entire task force dedicated to working with both with what we have internally at the County lab with what our healthcare system partners have internal to them, along with what's available to commercial labs to really get a clear picture of the capacity that everyone has. And then establishing the criteria who should be tested. The environment we're in now, we're, we're still telling people if you have symptoms you don't need to go hospital stay home is a vastly different testing, a requirement to meet that need versus an environment where we are doing rapid and mass testing of everyone who instantly has a fever temperature in order to isolate them to what we're envisioning for testing capacity needed coming out of this is very different than testing capacity needed today. Speaker 6: 14:38 And so we're assessing what do we have today, what do we need to be able to come out in this and how do we bridge that divide moving forward? Speaker 5: 14:45 Right. We're a bit behind Los Angeles, it seems mayor Garcetti said that all LA residents with coven 19 symptoms now get same day or next day crew and a virus tests. Do you think we can get there pretty soon? Speaker 6: 14:56 Well, we, we have to assess what is out there and what is valid. LA County is making decisions of, of what, what tests they're comfortable using based on what they see conditions on the ground. San Diego is going to do the same. Uh, it was just a week or two ago, there were multiple reports out that San Diego County had done more testing per capita than any County in California. It appears as some of the others have caught up, but it really is important that that we only use reliable test a test that has not been validated. A test we do not have a confidence in, uh, might generate a test that you can put on a chart and say that we're doing more, but it might not necessarily be helping. And we're very mindful as we evaluate what's out there, that we're making sure that, that we're really adhering to things that we have a degree of confidence in. Uh, because we want the public to have the highest degree of confidence in San Diego County, uh, do the testing to be in is being utilized is the best. Speaker 5: 15:49 Okay. Now KBB has just published a story today about advocates who are calling for the County to release the names of nursing homes where code 19 outbreaks have occurred and Los Angeles has released this information. Is that something San Diego is considering doing? Speaker 6: 16:05 Well, our public health experts have walked through on multiple occasions. The criteria, which is if there's something that the public needs to know because it would change a behavior and an action, uh, then we do disclose the location of, of, of outbreaks. Uh, we have done that and we will do that moving forward. But as a general practice or principle, will you don't disclose every individual business or location that has them. Our County does move aggressively and they have early, uh, with, with dedicated efforts around nursing homes, uh, prior to any outbreaks for things that they should do, what they should be mindful of. And then the minute there's a positive K there is a, a very concerted effort, a very intentional effort with additional staffing, additional support, uh, additional mental help, uh, to, to ensure that those, those facilities are getting every possible resource to take every possible step that they can. And, uh, when it comes to releasing the individual locations, uh, ultimately that is a decision of, uh, of our public health experts. Um, and, and I, I trust their judgment in when they need to and when they do not need to release that, uh, but congregate care living centers, nursing homes, senior centers, uh, our, our, some of our highest priorities and received the highest attention. Speaker 5: 17:17 Supervisor Fletcher, I mean you, you mentioned about uh, releasing results when some action is needed and in this case it's possible some family members might decide to pull their loved ones out of a facility if there was evidence of test results. So don't they have the right to know that Speaker 6: 17:33 I have faith and confidence in our, our public health team that, that when necessary they will release all of all of the appropriate information. Speaker 5: 17:41 Okay. Now what about the surge? Is the County still operating as a surge of patients at local hospitals is on the way? Speaker 6: 17:48 Well, he, these, some of the things we don't Speaker 1: 17:50 know. We've seen tremendous progress in flattening the curve. Uh, we've seen a tremendous, uh, uh, success certainly relative to other jurisdictions. Um, we, when we talked to the hospitals, it is, it is not just the availability of ventilators in rooms. It really is the availability of personal protective equipment. I, in terms of what their posture is in, uh, we did considerable early efforts around raising the bar of, of health system capacity. Uh, we are well under that bar now, uh, and we certainly hope to continue to be, uh, in that posture and in that status. Um, but again, if you go back, whether you look at, at other jurisdictions as they, as they came out of this, they saw significant increases. I mean Singapore earlier, there's others examples of that. Or if you go back to 1918, uh, and you can see multiple jurisdictions and had a second wave that was significantly greater than their first wave. Speaker 1: 18:41 Um, and so I think we have to continue to prepare and plan for the worst, um, and, and then adjust accordingly, uh, as we move through this. Uh, and those are the actions that we take daily and evaluate in the data, evaluating the trends. The need for hospitalizations tends to be a lagging indicator behind positive tests. Um, because a lot of times individuals, uh, will show symptoms. They might get tested, uh, their, the severity of it will increase. Then they may need to be hospitalized a week or so later, then they may need to move to an ICU bed. And so the hospitalization rate can often be a lagging indicator, uh, behind the positive test rates. Uh, but we're in daily communication with our hospital systems to really assess what is the capacity they have and then what are the actions that we should take, uh, to, to be appropriate to that. Well, supervisor Fletcher, thank you so much for your time. Thank you. That was sending you Canada supervisor Nathan Fletcher. This is KPBS mid day edition. I'm Mark Sauer along with Alison st John police across the region are seeing their jobs change in the Corona virus era. They're enforcing stay at home order is keeping the peace at food banks and grocery stores. And when they do make arrests, there's a new level of danger with the slightest touch, meaning they could get sick. KPBS reporter Claire Traeger, sir examines the psychological impacts of the pandemic on police Speaker 7: 20:04 and he's running away from us and we had him catch up to him, make contact with them and placed him under arrest and handgun. Having to tackle someone who's running away is a pretty standard part of the job for Chula Vista police officer Victor Del Rio, but the coronavirus pandemic makes it far more complicated during an arrest. The first contact with the subject we obviously we are practicing our social distancing. We stayed within six feet from them and who we determined a crime had occurred. It was time to conduct our business and you don't tell them to please, this has to be on his back. Officers are now wearing masks and at all times, but an arrest is still an arrest and they have to come in close contact with people to do their jobs. Del Rio says it's instinctual. Trading just takes over and we just have to act. I mean it is training we, it is in the back of our mind. We are worried about it. We are here for public safety and it's time to do our job. Still. The threat of the virus is always there, lingering and invisible. So it says Delrios partner officer, Javier Castillo. Speaker 8: 21:21 He always constantly crosses our mind. Especially the most concerning part is taking a contracting. The area is taking it to my family cause I think what we're seeing now is that in many places police officers are being more reactive as opposed to proactive. Speaker 7: 21:34 Phil Stinson is a former police officer who studies policing and criminal justice at bowling green state university. Speaker 8: 21:40 Police officers are responding to calls for service. The responding to nine one one calls, uh, but they're not being as aggressive in terms of proactive traffic enforcement and other types of activities. Speaker 7: 21:51 In March, arrests in Chula Vista were down significantly by almost 50% from 2019 San Diego police wouldn't make an officer available for an interview, but their arrests were also down going forward. Stints predicts that went officers do have to make arrests. Speaker 8: 22:09 What we're going to see among other things is that the charges are aggravated. In other words, people are going to be charged with more charges or more serious charges than they otherwise would. Speaker 7: 22:18 So fewer arrests, but heftier charges for those who do end up in handcuffs. Chula Vista, Lieutenant Dan peek says the department has made other changes and emergency staffing plan that eliminates interaction between teams and keeps officers on reserve in case others get sick. He says there's constant stress. Speaker 8: 22:40 Uh, we, we may have, uh, officers now that have childcare issues just like anybody else in the world right now. Um, we're, maybe they have a spouse or significant other that lost their jobs. But on top of that, we're also asking our officers to go out and, you know, and uh, provide a suburb service to the public while also knowing that there's this deadly virus Speaker 7: 23:00 either drained, you know, because it's a, it's a constant, um, hypervigilance. Dr Nancy bullpen rod leads the counseling team international, which provides counseling services to many local law enforcement agencies, including the Sheriff's department, Oceanside and national city police. She says the hyper awareness that police always have has gone to a higher level. Am I getting it? Am I carrying it? You know, the person I just was around and you know, arrested or put in the back of my, my patrol car or took to jail, you know, do they have it? Dr bullpen, rod worries about officers taking these additional stresses home with them and ratcheting up tensions with and children. Many of them have told me, I don't want him to come back. I don't want him to come back right now. I want him to stay at the station until this, this is over. I don't want him to come in. And those clothes, she's telling her clients to eat healthy exercise, talk with family and maybe even keep a journal. Law enforcement, they're instant gratifying, you know, and you know, they wanted it yesterday. So it's really hard for them to be patient and just say, okay, this is what we're in now. They have to stay positive. This, this, this will pass. I mean, we're a strong nation, we're strong communities and it will Claire Trigere, sir KPBS news Speaker 5: 24:31 every day we learn more about covert 19 and as news comes in, the challenges to sort fact from fiction. The daily afternoon news conferences from the San Diego County have been a steady source of mostly reliable information about what's going on locally. But even there, we need to keep our critical faculties working. I knew source investigative reporter Jill Castillano reviewed all the counties news conferences from the past month and found some of what officials said was contradictory or just plain incorrect. Jill is here now with us to tell us more about her findings. Thanks for joining us, Jill. Speaker 9: 25:03 Thanks for having me. Speaker 5: 25:04 So this sounds like quite a bit of work. First off, how did you manage the fact to, to fact check all this material? Speaker 9: 25:10 It was quite a bit of work. Like you mentioned, the County offers daily news briefings. They're usually between 30 minutes and an hour. So I transcribed all of them and look through them carefully to look for inconsistencies, uh, confusing or questionable statements, and then compile those into nine examples, which you can see on our website at [inaudible] dot org I fact check those against what I learned from the CDC, reading research papers, other news articles, um, and tried to paint a picture of sometimes where the County may not have provided the most accurate information possible. Although it wasn't common, I think it was worth pointing out. And what I realized was that a lot of these examples actually focused on a County public health officer. Wilma Wooten, who oversees a budget of $100 million, has a staff of more than 500 people and she speaks quite a bit at these press conferences. And some of the information that she's provided has been confusing and to some, a little bit concerning as well. Speaker 5: 26:13 Now one of the statements you fact checked was about whether people who are asymptomatic can pass it along to others. What did you find? Speaker 9: 26:20 Yes. So in mid-March, the County public health officer, Wilma Wooten, she was interviewed by a local pastor named mile miles MacPherson and she said something that was surprising and a little confusing. She said, you cannot spread the Corona virus if you don't have symptoms, but this was mid March and at this point in time there was evidence from multiple papers that had already shown that was not the case. Here you can listen to a clip of that conversation. Speaker 10: 26:49 You are not actively displaying symptoms. The thinking right now is you cannot spread that to another person. Oh, I, you know, I heard, I heard it was that you could without symptoms, there are a lot of rumors that makes me feel good. That makes me feel good. Speaker 9: 27:08 Uh, I did contact her via email and her office and like I mentioned, I was able to get a written statements. She didn't answer directly, but the spokesperson said that Wooten was following the CDC guidelines at the time. But as you probably heard in that clip, even MacPherson at that point said that he had heard something different about asymptomatic transition and it was clear at that point in time that asymptomatic transmission was possible even according to the CDC. If you go back and look at the CDCs website from that time, you can see that they had already acknowledged that people without symptoms were spreading the virus. Now, one of the other topics that you looked into is caused a lot of confusion in the community about which businesses can stay open during the pandemic. We know the County has been answering a lot of questions about this. Speaker 9: 27:52 What did you learn through your reporting? Yes. This definitely has been a point of confusion and a lot of questions. It has to do with what's considered an essential business, meaning businesses that provide necessary services for residents. When a reporter asked Wilma Wootton whether hair and nail salons were considered essential businesses and could stay open during the pandemic, her response wasn't exactly clear. She said beauty parlors can stay open if they want, but they should be following social distancing rules and people who are inside the nail salons and hair salons to try to stay six feet away from each other and then she added this. Many of you have been to nail salons. If you get a pedicure, the person is at your feet. That's about six feet. If you get a manicure, a you are across from a table that might not be exactly six feet, but many of the U S operators are wearing masks and if someone is sick themselves, they should not be going to these businesses. Speaker 9: 28:50 Well, we've come quite a ways since then, haven't we? What's the issue with what Wooten said then? Yes. We certainly have come quite a ways. We understand better, more about social distancing. If you're touching someone's feet or hands, it seems pretty clear that you're not six feet away from them. You're actually in direct contact with them. In the eyes of the CDC, they call this close contact and they actually say this is the main way the virus is spreading. When you're in close contact with someone for an extended period of time. So actually going to nail salons could increase the chance that you get the Corona virus, even though at the time Wooten was saying it's okay for these businesses to stay open and to be clear it's changed. Since then, the governor issued an executive order closing nonessential businesses and nail salons now are closed. So none of the counties nail salons are open at this point. Speaker 5: 29:42 Oh, another of the, the, the points that you fact checked. Focus on statements made by County supervisor Nathan Fletcher about releasing data on the number of covert 19 patients who are homeless. Tell us what you uh, reported on that. Speaker 9: 29:55 Yeah, so in the story we laid out some accounts where supervisor Nathan Fletcher, um, explained what can and cannot be released when it comes to homeless people contracting covert 19. So back on March 31st supervisor Nathan Fletcher announced the first three cases of homeless people contracting the coronavirus. He said they were all unsheltered. They were moved to a nearby hotel room. Then the next day he switched gears a little bit. He said that moving forward into the future, the County would no longer be breaking down and classifying the percentage of positive cases by sheltered or unsheltered so the County would no longer be providing this information to the public. After that, after some pressure from journalists, he then decided on Monday to release this information. He said, while the previously we decided not to release this information quote, we do believe that it is appropriate to share them on an ongoing basis given the challenges Corona virus presents to this population. So the story kind of shows that change in reasoning and understanding and information that's been released over time. Speaker 5: 31:03 Earlier today we did speak with supervisor Fletcher and we asked him about your reporting and here's what he said. Speaker 1: 31:09 Oh, it was a little perplexing that folks said, we really want to know this data. And we said, we're not able to provide that data. And then we work really hard to provide that data. And then we started providing that data and then we were criticized for those actions. Speaker 9: 31:22 Well, first of all, I want to thank supervisor Fletcher and the other health officials for their hard work. And like supervisor Fletcher said to you, he and others have been working really hard to make information available and I think they've done a really good job of that. Our story is not intended to be any sort of take down or really even a criticism, but just to give people the most accurate information possible. And you can see if you've read our story, it very clearly lays out what was said when we're not trying to criticize anyone, but I think if you go online and you read it for yourself, you can make that decision. Speaker 5: 31:57 Good. Well, it's always good to remind everybody to keep our critical faculties, uh, very active during this period. So thank you Jill for your reporting. Speaker 9: 32:07 Thanks so much for having me on. Speaker 5: 32:09 I've been speaking with I knew source investigative reporter Jill Castillano. You can read more of her fact checks. Said I knew I knew source is an independently funded nonprofit partner of KPBS. Speaker 1: 32:21 I'm Mark Sauer. You're listening to midday edition on KPBS part television star part and magazine writer. Troy Johnson has a big following among foodies. Maybe you've seen him. I'm one of the many food network shows he's been in. It's simple. Speaker 5: 32:35 It's lovely. This is what you eat, you know 2:00 AM when you've made decisions in life. Speaker 10: 32:40 I have an unnatural, creepy affection for this dish. It's not just rich, it's like eating Morgan Freeman's voice. Speaker 1: 32:49 So when restaurants across the city started closing down to help stop the spread of COBIT 19 Troy Johnson's inbox started filling up. He someone, a lot of restaurant owners thought of when the Corona virus hit. They thought it could help them reach customers who might be able to help them stay afloat through the pandemic. Lots of local restaurants are still offering takeout. Farmer's markets are still open. The restaurant owners had stories to tell, but they needed Troy's help. So Troy decided to do something to speed up his normal storytelling process. He launched an Instagram live series to help keep the local food scene connected to its customers and the first of a new pop-up podcast series and KPBS is San Diego news matters podcast host Kinsey Morlan, talks to Troy about how the pandemic inspired him to pivot Speaker 10: 33:40 when the pandemic got real for California. Troy came out with this print piece that just stuck in my head and my heart. It's so interesting ordering pizza and the time of the pandemic, the articles on San Diego magazine's website and it's called ordering pizza in a pandemic. It came out pretty quickly in March after the County of San Diego ordered all bars closed and closed all dining spaces allowing only take out and delivery. It was the very beginning of what will surely be the restaurant apocalypse for so, so many small mom and pop shops. Ostensibly Troy was just writing about picking up a pie from tribute pizza in North park, but his piece just captures the Corona virus site. Geist and [inaudible] so, so well. Speaker 11: 34:29 So the way that they've set this up is that you call him or, or you order online and you can order a CSA box to go with your needs if you want. Um, there's different sizes, 25, $50, and you place your order, you drive up curbside park, you call them, they walk out with gloves and a smile and you give them six feet, you know, and they will put the pizza on your, on the hood of your car, you know, so they don't come in contact with the interior of the car or they will put it in the trunk if you, if you prefer. And these guys are taking so many precautions and they're putting themselves at risk every single day. You know, any employee that's at a restaurant right now dealing with the general public is putting themselves at risk. So she came out and put this CSA box and my pizza in the back and I got some soft serve ice cream to go, you know, and then I got home and I'm totally crazy, you know. So I, I started wiping off with hand sanitizers and to go back. You know, I, I, and I looked at my wife and I said, look, is that cause it nuts? Is it crazy? Speaker 11: 35:31 Eight? I, you know, and then you just think of, it'll leave being shut down when you think of that healthcare worker, the images of them just crying on a floor Speaker 12: 35:38 and you know, I, this is not crazy and if it is crazy, I'm going to be crazy for a while. I want to make sure that I'm not a carrier of this thing that breaks a hospital or it makes it so that somebody can't get a hospital bed or whatever it sounds. Speaker 10: 35:56 Maybe there just is no way to comfortably eat in a pandemic. That's what Troy has ultimately decided. But still he thinks people need to do their best to get over their nerves. Yes. Wipe down the food containers. Yes. Heat up the food, do all the things you need to do to be extra safe right now. But if you think you can muster some extra courage, Troy thinks you should keep ordering food from local restaurants. Speaker 12: 36:21 Here's what you have to realize, and again, I'm not speaking as a health expert here. I'm a guy who's written about restaurants for 12 years and I know their operations really well. And when you do have to realize though is that they have been in the business of pathogen pathogen control for decades. They are, their kitchens are, if done reasonably well, are way cleaner than ours at home. I mean they are micromanaged and sanitized every single day, even before a pandemic. And right now they're up in the concentration of their sanitation. They're not allowing their chefs or cooks or even servers to use their phone. And if they do use their phone that they're making them sanitize their hands religiously. I mean, I have to believe, and again, not giving health advice, that's not what I do. I have to believe that their kitchens are far cleaner than ours. And more importantly, the reason why restaurants have been called an essential business by Kevin Newsome is that we need food security in this time. If we go through it, a food, food insecure moment on top of a pandemic, we're screwed. Speaker 10: 37:35 Okay. I will be honest, I ordered a pizza in the pandemic but just one. Then my husband and I decided we just couldn't do it anymore. Images of sneezing, chefs clouded our brains. What Troy said earlier though, he's absolutely right. I am 200% sure restaurant kitchens are way cleaner than my kitchen. My kitchen these days looks like a highly efficient dirty dish assembly line. The amount of crusty stuff that's piled up next to my sink right now is just unreal and yet my family ordering out right now, it's just not in the Corona virus cards. Troy gets that and he says for windows like me, there are other ways to support the restaurants we love. Speaker 12: 38:18 One of the most heartening things that I heard in this process was somebody walked into garden kitchen, which is a tiny little farm to table restaurant and Rolando and you know, man walked in and said, you know, I'd like to get a $750 gift certificate. You know, I got a seven $50 gift certificate and he said, I'll see you guys on this as over. People can buy gift certificates. You can buy merchandise, you know, the gift certificate. The way I like to look at it is it's a, an investment in your, you know, Corona is dead party that you're going to have eventually. Speaker 11: 38:50 You know, eventually this is going to be over. And that's a way that you can kind of, you know, buy futures in a restaurant by futures that small local piece drove. Because the sad thing is is that chain restaurants are going to be fine during this. Not fine. They're going to get hurt too, but they're going to have the financial backing to survive this. It's a small mom and pop restaurants that are at risk the most. They are our elderly with the coronavirus. They are, are at risk patients with the coronavirus small mom and pop restaurants with the most accuracy. Speaker 11: 39:19 So I, I'm telling people, find your local bistro, find that local, uh, you know, independent place that you want to keep alive and buy 20 tee-shirts for Christmas by a merchant. I buy by gift card, by their mugs, you know, do whatever you possibly can. It's not going to help. Unfortunately, the people that have to be led off in this, you know, like the bussers, the dishwashers, the cooks that you know, servers and hosts everybody else. But it is going to help that small restaurant owner keep the lights on. So those people have a job to come back to when this is all on them. Speaker 10: 39:57 Troy himself is still ordering out by the way. And so are lots of other folks out there and the food writers, other contribution of doing what he can to keep the local food scene alive has been these online videos. Speaker 12: 40:09 It guys, I'm continuing my series today. I'm talking with local restaurant tours and food and drink people. These Instagram live videos. Basically I'm setting up a few a week. Um, I haven't had a regular schedule because I'm not a regular person. The big joke right now is like, Oh my God, the Instagram live pandemic. You know, it's, it's tough because you want to get these people's stories out, but now people are getting a little bit, um, like overwhelmed by all these Instagram live, um, popups that are happening. You know, it's, it's a fascinating time to be doing information distribution and right now I want to give you, um, invite somebody on. I just see his request right now. Yusef, I'll get to you in one second. Speaker 10: 40:50 So far Troy's been averaging about 10 restaurant tours and interviews a week on Instagram. Live is handled by the way is at. Hey Troy Johnson. If you search for him on Facebook, you can also see recordings of those live videos, Speaker 12: 41:02 hand sanitizer, nobody can find it. Well some of our distilleries in San Diego have started taking what they do and they're making, they're making hand sanitizer for the public. Speaker 10: 41:11 And these videos are often empathetic check-ins that are apart purely promotional but also these incredibly intimate glances inside the minds of local restaurant tours who are really, really struggling right now. And somehow Troy also manages to capture a few solid moments of hope and creativity. Speaker 12: 41:30 We're one of those industries that's really quick. And we, we our plan every Speaker 13: 41:34 two hours, change our menu, add things. We've been delivering food. We've been, you know, running phone calls out to people to let them know what the current offerings are. So I think Speaker 10: 41:42 Troy isn't the only one out there who's taken to social media to keep the local food and beer scenes alive through this isolation beer writer Beth DeMann has taken to the interwebs to report on beer stuff since all her beer columns are currently on hold. Speaker 14: 41:57 Hey, all you cats and kittens out there today we are going to be talking to a couple of different breweries. We've got a black plague lined up Cairo ruler and uh, we've got, Speaker 10: 42:08 and then restaurant owners themselves are taking to social media to stay connected to their clients. Just check the SD foodie hashtag on Instagram or make sure to follow some of your favorite spots for those direct updates. Personally, I've been really enjoying updates from drew Deckmann. Drew is a chef and restaurant tour from Guadalupe Valley and Baja. You can find him on Instagram at, at Baja fishing chef. Speaker 11: 42:32 Welcome to kitchen quarantine today. You know, like we're saying, there's no more days of the week. Today's today, yesterday was yesterday. Tomorrow is tomorrow's the three days of the week that we have right now. Speaker 10: 42:42 And then who could forget? Sam Xen a K a Sam the cooking guy. Speaker 15: 42:46 I'm mad as hell. I'm not going to take it anymore. So I'm going to eat Sam's macaroni and cheese until I explode. Creamy, gooey, delicious macaroni and cheese. And if you can't make this in isolation, well I just need to come over and have a talk with you. Speaker 16: 43:13 [inaudible] Speaker 10: 43:13 the internet can be so ugly sometimes, so full of hate from people hiding behind their anonymous handles. But right now the internet is doing what we all know it can do so well. Sometimes it's our portal to the outside world, a window into other people's hearts and minds. It's keeping us connected. Speaker 11: 43:34 There are great, amazing things coming out of this too. It's not all doom and gloom to see this community rally with one another is shockingly human. And you know, there's just so many people that are like I'm saying, open for the community. I'm not making any money. Speaker 16: 43:52 [inaudible] Speaker 10: 43:52 these lines from Troy's pizza in a pandemic piece stuck with me. Quote, restaurants have never been about food. They're about people, and now the people need to be about restaurant. Speaker 16: 44:06 [inaudible] Speaker 15: 44:07 you could hear the full episode with predict. Troy Johnson on the San Diego news matters podcast, search for the show in Apple podcast, Spotify or wherever you listen Speaker 16: 44:23 [inaudible].

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Stimulus checks are starting to roll out this week to millions of Americans with the goal of getting money to quickly circulate into the battered economy. Also, Gov. Gavin Newsom said he doesn’t see California lifting coronavirus restrictions anytime in the near future and local authorities will have a “profound and outsize” influence on when that will happen. County Supervisor Nathan Fletcher talks about what that will mean here in San Diego. Plus, even with the shelter-in-place orders, law enforcement still needs to continue. How local police officers are handling the job with its new added danger. And, public health officials are supposed to give the public accurate and up-to-date information, but there have been several instances in the past month where that information was incorrect or contradictory. Finally, introducing a new pop-up podcast series on people who are doing creative and innovative things to keep the community connected through COVID-19 isolation.