How To Protect Yourself At Hair Salons, Restaurants Or Other Public Spaces, Border Patrol Checkpoints In North County Send Chills To Immigrant Communities And Valedictorians Have Their Say
Speaker 1: 00:00 What are the risks involved in entering our reopening world and a salute to some of San Diego's high school valedictorians? I'm Maureen Cavenaugh with Mark sour. This is KPBS mid day edition. Speaker 2: 00:23 It's Wednesday, May 27th Speaker 1: 00:27 after months of being shut in, we're seeing San Diego open up again, first parks and beaches, then retail stores and restaurants. Now we're able to go to church and get a professional haircut, but the world has not returned to normal. As we do more things and go more places, there are more opportunities to be exposed to the covert 19 virus. Staying safe now means more than staying in doors. It means knowing how to navigate in a variety of public situations to help ourselves, our families and our neighbors stay healthy. Joining me is Dr. Mark Sawyer and infectious disease specialist with Rady children's hospital and UC San Diego. Dr. Sawyer, welcome back to the program. Speaker 3: 01:11 Good to join you, Maureen. Speaker 1: 01:13 Now, first of all, do you have any concerns about the way San Diego is reopening? Speaker 3: 01:17 No, actually I think San Diego has been very careful and deliberate in their process or using the guidelines that have been put forth from the state and from the CDC. And I think San Diego is in good shape right now where you have a fairly steady rate of infection. It's still there. I don't want people to think that it's gone away, but I think this is an appropriate time to start gradually opening things up again. Speaker 1: 01:45 You know, after a couple of months with no gathering, some people are ready to party like old times. As an infectious disease specialist. What goes through your head when you see gatherings like that on a beach or in a bar where people are just not obeying the safety measures? Speaker 3: 02:02 Yeah, well that's a disaster waiting to happen. As soon as people let down their guard, this virus is going to come back and we haven't done anything to change the contagious nature of this virus. People have gotten comfortable isolating at home and I, and it's time to rethink, uh, the precautions you take when you start to venture out into the world. And if you get to relax, we're going to have a rebound of cases. Speaker 1: 02:28 Now with more venues opening up, some health officials say the risk posed by silent spreaders is greater. Tell us about that. Speaker 3: 02:36 Well, we have learned over the last month that it is possible to shed this virus without any symptoms. Most people eventually do develop symptoms, but at the time they're, they're contagious. They may not have symptoms at first so you can get close to somebody at the beach or in a restaurant and acquire the infection from them even though they don't know that they're infected. So that is the reason that social distancing is still being recommended. The reason masks are being recommended out in public when you're within six feet of other people is to prevent that from happening. Speaker 1: 03:13 Let's talk about doing things safely. In this new environment where things are opening up. For instance, when dining in restaurants, what should you be cautious about? Speaker 3: 03:23 Well, it's the same thing we've been talking about Maureen over the last few months. The key to preventing transmission is to not have close, prolonged contact with other people. Certainly not without wearing a mask and to practice good hand washing. Uh, when you're in an environment where you may have pick up the infection from touching surfaces. So you want to disinfect your hands in the restaurant. You want to not get close to other patterns in the restaurant. Uh, and uh, in when you leave, you want to disinfect your hands again. Speaker 1: 03:58 Now of course you have to take your mask off to eat in a restaurant, but when should you wear wine? And should you go in with one? Speaker 3: 04:04 Yes, I think you should wear one into the restaurant until you get seated at your table. I am sure the restaurants are going to space the tables apart, the appropriate distance. So once you're stationary at your table, then you can take your mask off because other people won't come within six feet of you. Speaker 1: 04:22 Just one more question about restaurants. You know, when you're out in a restaurant and people tend to be gregarious, tend to maybe laugh and talk loud. Is that a riskier than just a quiet conversation? Speaker 3: 04:37 Yes. Uh, you know, anything you do to sort of increase the respiratory, uh, exhalation, which we do when we laugh and we cough and we sneeze and, and we sing loudly, all of those things probably do increase the risk for transmission, which is why those settings are concerning settings like a restaurant or a bar are concerning because we tend to raise our voice, we laugh, we have a great time. So ideally you would have a mask on whenever possible in that situation. But of course to eat you're going to have to take it off. Speaker 1: 05:14 Now retail stores have been allowed in store customers with safety modifications. If social distancing is maintained, does it make any difference how large or small the store is? Speaker 3: 05:27 No, it's all about this magical six foot distance from other people. So a big store can accommodate a lot more people and keep them six feet apart. The trick is not to let down your guard and just start clustering closer together in line, for example, where we tend to snuggle up to the person in front of us so we don't lose our place in line. So that's where people have to be careful. Speaker 1: 05:50 Now if everyone is wearing masks, why is social distancing still important? Speaker 3: 05:55 Well, the masks are only a partial to, to the spread of the COBIT virus. The primary goal for wearing a mask is to prevent you from infecting somebody else. But uh, you know, you can still get infected with a mask on. So this is an attempt to cut down the transmission. If you do both things, wear a mask and keep six feet apart, then your chances of getting infected are very low. Speaker 1: 06:22 Church services have apparently been the source of outbreaks around the country and now they are opening up again here in San Diego. What are the things church goers have to stop doing to stay safe? Speaker 3: 06:36 Well, there's a tendency at church to reach people with handshakes or even hugs and that's got to stop temporarily while we get through this period of contagiousness. So the, the same ingredients apply in a church service as they do in a store or a restaurant. You want to keep your distance and you want to keep a mask on when you are forced to be close to other people Speaker 1: 07:00 and finally getting your hair cut or stock held. Any special precautions that you would recommend? Speaker 3: 07:06 Well, they're particularly, the mask is important because you obviously you're the person cutting your hair cannot stay six feet away from you so you want both them and you to wear a mask and then when you get finished in that environment, as with any other, you want to disinfect your hands either with hand washing or hand sanitizer. Speaker 1: 07:26 Do you advise people 65 and older to limit their outdoor activity even though businesses have been reopened? Speaker 3: 07:35 Yes. We still know that the highest risk individuals are those 65 and older and the older you get the higher your risk goes up. So people in that age group need to be particularly thoughtful about going out into public. Even though things are opening up, they need to think, do they really need to go to a dining restaurant or can they continue to get takeout from the restaurant? Do they really need to to go to a store in person to pick something up when they might be able to order it online easier. So unfortunately for people in the older age groups, the home isolation is still the best solution. Speaker 1: 08:14 What in your opinion, doctor, is the riskiest exposure among the reopened activities in San Diego? Speaker 3: 08:21 Yeah, that's a great question. I mean, any, any situation where you're going to be potentially forced close together with other people is risky. I have all the things that I've sort of seen videos of. I think restaurants and bars in particular are maybe the biggest challenge because we were going there to be social. When we want to be social, we tend to get close to other people and, and talk loudly and, and uh, have a good time. But that's exactly the kind of situation that's gonna lead to transmission. Speaker 1: 08:52 What about the reopened casinos? Speaker 3: 08:56 Uh, same, although, you know, I think if they can Institute some social distancing in casinos, uh, you know, then it's going to be as safe as anything else. But the challenge is people have to keep their mind on the social distancing. And, and when you're distracted, having a great time doing something else, you may forget. So people have to really concentrate when they're out in public and particularly people 65 and above to keep in mind that they want to stay away from other people as much as they can and they will want to wear a mask and hopefully have the people around them wearing a mask. Speaker 1: 09:32 Now today, Rady children's hospital is launching the coven collaborative for children. It's a testing initiative that will screen up to 2000 children, their families and pediatricians daily. What kind of impact are you hoping this new testing initiative will have? Speaker 3: 09:50 Well, I think this is a great advance, uh, for Rady hospital and for our community. Uh, the more testing we can do, the better off we're going to be. Uh, the whole strategy we're shifting towards is testing people. And when we find somebody who's positive, we test everybody around them and isolate people who are known to be infected. And that's how we're gonna sustain our control over this infection for the longterm. So this will be great and this will be important for school. We're getting back to schools as well. Speaker 1: 10:23 I've been speaking with Dr. Mark Sawyer and infectious disease specialist with Rady children's hospital and UC San Diego. Dr. Sawyer, as always, thank you so much. Speaker 3: 10:33 It's been great to join you, Maureen. Speaker 4: 10:42 The government says farm workers are essential amid the COBIT 19 pandemic and the agriculture department estimates that half of all crop hands in the U S are undocumented immigrants. Growers say it's closer to 75% in light of that U S immigration and customs enforcement announced in March. It's top priority is life saving and public safety activities. It's easing up on routine arrests and deportations now, but that's not what immigration advocates are seeing with the border patrol in North San Diego County. Joining me is reporter Maya Sri Krishnan who covers border and immigration issues at voice of San Diego. Maya, welcome. Speaker 1: 11:20 Thanks for having me, Mark. Speaker 4: 11:21 Well, drivers to LA on interstate five are familiar with the immigration checkpoint near the orange County line. But that and others have often been dormant in recent years. How common are these checkpoints now in other parts of San Diego County and how's that changed since the pandemic? Speaker 5: 11:36 So it's sort of hard to get data on these checkpoints and how frequent they are. Um, but one of the things that residents and advocates and attorneys who, um, are working in living in Eastern North County area, which is Fallbrook to lose Paula, um, in those areas, they have noticed that several checkpoints that have been dormant or infrequent for several years have suddenly become more active. One of those is a checkpoint on the [inaudible] between Fallbrook and Temecula. Uh, there's also one on sr 76 has been reported active more often since March. So a lot of them have been raising concerns that, um, perhaps at least in those specific areas where patrol is increasing its enforcement. Speaker 4: 12:23 Now, ice, as I noted, says it's relaxed, it's enforcement policy and the health crisis. Has the border patrol gone the other way? Speaker 5: 12:30 So, like I said, it's really hard to get concrete data on how many stops are made. And on these checkpoints, border patrol told me that they have made no changes. So not increasing or decreasing their operations for these particular checkpoints. They haven't been as forthcoming and saying whether they are increasing or decreasing. But they did talk about some of the things that they take into account when they open checkpoints and when they use them and why. And one of those things is traffic. And one thing we do know that since the pandemic traffic has decreased a lot, and the thing with these checkpoints is that everyone has to go through them. You know, they're not just stopping certain people, but if you're going up on the [inaudible], everyone is going to be slowed down. And when rush hour is at its peak during normal traffic, that can be really frustrating to people who are trying to get to work, who are citizens or you know, maybe don't have to worry about being stopped or anything like that. And so, you know, that might be something that they're taking into account right now, um, in reopening some of these checks. Speaker 4: 13:40 Now in your story, you'll highlight the case of Gilmer Barrios. Uh, what happened to him? Speaker 5: 13:45 Gilman Barrios was stopped at a checkpoint in March, the same 15 North checkpoint that I was talking about earlier. Uh, he was working in San Diego County, but he lives in Temecula and he was, he stopped through his immigration checkpoint and was stopped. Bart is, has an open immigration case, so he does not have a legal status to be here, but he also has an open case in court. So it was a little bit strange, uh, that he was deported and that was something that attorneys and advocates raised an issue with. Um, but he was really quickly deported to Tijuana. Um, fortunately on top of everything else, uh, Barrios is a Guatemalan citizen and so if he was going to be deported, but he should not have been deported to Tijuana. Um, so after a little over 20 days there, he was eventually brought back to the U S with the help of the Guatemalan console. General in Los Angeles. Um, and now he is currently awaiting, you know, his, his proceedings in court. Speaker 4: 14:46 Now you'll note the numbers regarding arrests are tough to come by. Uh, what you seeing, what are the, uh, advocates immigration advocates saying as they're tracking arrests? Speaker 5: 14:56 So I did speak with one attorney whose organization has been trying to track some data on arrests up in Riverside. Um, they have noticed a slight increase in arrests in comparison to before the pandemic, but you know, it's very slight. It's from, you know, maybe one arrest in a quarter to now to arrest in a couple of months. Uh, but they say that that data is often underreported in general because people either don't know, they can report it, um, or a fearful or just get deported so quickly that it's hard to, on top of that they have noticed an increase in reports of these checkpoints and they were, you know, the attorney I spoke with was particularly suspicious because of this I 15 checkpoint and the fact that it was more active than it has been in years and that really indicated to her that enforcement was stepping up. Speaker 5: 15:53 I also spoke with [inaudible], which is an advocacy group in North County in San Diego and they, um, for many, many years have sort of been tracking checkpoints and enforcement. And what will happen is a member of the community, uh, will sort of text him or text him a picture or just text them that they saw checkpoint in a certain area and they will send one of their volunteers out to verify that and then they will send out checkpoints, Facebook message, um, other social media to let people know that there is a checkpoint in this place. Uh, they said that they have also noticed an increase in these reports. And again, you know, many of the people who are a part of that organization and volunteers have looked in this area for a very long time and have noted that many of these checkpoints were active when they were maybe kids that haven't been active in, in maybe a decade or anything like that. Speaker 4: 16:43 They're back again. Now. What kind of impact are these checkpoints having on the immigrant community during this pandemic? Speaker 5: 16:50 So when I spoke with immigrants who are living in those communities, uh, one of the biggest things is that it has created a lot of fear and it has made them fearful to leave their homes at all. So that has meant that some people is not going to work some days when they hear about checkpoints. Um, and as you mentioned, many of these people are farm workers and so they are going to do an essential job and this is stopping them from doing that. Um, some of them indicated that they are hesitant to go to food pickups that are provided by schools or that they are hesitant those days to go to places where they can get internet to their children or grandchildren who are you as citizens who are in schools can actually participate in distance learning. So, um, and advocates have also sort of expressed that it would kind of be an hindrance for people to go access healthcare if they needed that, which is particularly concerning during a pandemic. Speaker 4: 17:43 Yeah. The checkpoint may be between the hospital and a lot of these folks as you noted in your story. Speaker 5: 17:49 Yeah, the Temecula Speaker 4: 17:50 hospital is actually the closest hospital for people who are living in the Fallbrook area. Um, it's close through it. Then Palomar Tri-City in Oceanside, I as significant man by about 20 minutes. So a lot of them indicated that that was kind of concerning because they would have to go through this checkpoint to get to the hospital. And if that was concerning, not only for people who maybe don't have legal status, but for everyone in general, because again, it just sort of flows everyone down. Now finally, these stops can sometimes be contested in court, but as you point out, new emergency powers during the pen DEMEC makes that less likely. Is that right? Speaker 5: 18:26 Yeah. Um, and you were C power during the pandemic is a possibility and then there was also a change in policy last year, last summer that also allowed border patrol to kind of more expeditiously deport people. So that's changed things also, you know, in general people in immigration court are not guaranteed attorneys and so then you have the may not know that they can, you know, sort of legally contest the reason why they were arrested in immigration court either. Speaker 4: 18:55 I've been speaking with voice of San Diego reporter Maya, Sri Krishna. Thanks Maya. Speaker 5: 19:00 Thanks for having me. Speaker 1: 19:10 San Diego county's best and brightest high school graduates won't get the standing ovation they deserve. This year, KPBS education reporter Joe Hong spoke to valedictorians from across the County about what it's like to earn this honor during a pandemic. Speaker 6: 19:27 Brilliant high school, seniors, family members, underclassmen, and the hardworking staff. The speech that I've given to you all today wasn't what I had planned, but I still feel very honored to speak to all of you at times like these. It's hard to see the positive in our lives and to celebrate our accomplishments. Speaker 7: 19:41 Jorge Nunez is the valedictorian at San Diego unified Hoover high school. This is the speech he's planning to give over a virtual graduation. Speaker 6: 19:49 We have cultivated a culture of unity and strength, but that will not only help us overcome this pandemic, but one that would also help us to achieve our future goals Speaker 7: 19:57 in June. Nunez will graduate with a 4.59 GPA, but he wasn't always an all star student. Speaker 6: 20:03 I think in middle school and elementary school. And you know, I kind of had like a little slump. Like I didn't really see the purpose of studying, you know, because I thought it was boring. You know, and I didn't have a purpose at that time. But Speaker 7: 20:15 when he was a freshman, he went to his brother's graduation where he saw that year's valedictorian give his speech. That's when he decided to turn his life around. Speaker 6: 20:22 I went to his graduation and I saw like valedictorian and they were like, number one, they were giving a speech and I was wondering and you know, and they're being very recognized and now I want to do that, you know, for my parents. So they can see like the hard work, his Speaker 7: 20:34 hard work earned him a spot at UC Berkeley where he'll study electrical engineering and computer science as a first generation college student Nunez says he understands the valedictorian speech is not that important in the context of a pandemic, but he's still disappointed. Speaker 6: 20:47 So I say beginning of 10th grade, you know, when for our school, that's when it starts counting towards valedictorian. That's, you know, I had it as a goal but I didn't make it seem like, Oh it's the only thing. Speaker 7: 20:57 Carlos Sanchez was honored when he found out he was valedictorian of Sweetwater high in Chula Vista, but he says getting the news during an online learning session was awkward. Speaker 6: 21:05 It's weird. I'd say cause like when you go on to a meeting with your teachers in the class, like the, the teacher would congratulate you and then everyone else is on mute and then you're just like thank you to the teacher. Speaker 7: 21:18 Sanchez will be sending biochemistry at Harvey Mudd college in the fall in North County at Fallbrook high school. Valedictorian. Milliano Corona is graduating with a 4.4 GPA, Speaker 8: 21:28 friends, families and class of 2020 my name is Deanna Corona and I know what you're thinking. Yes, so that really is my last name and know the virus is not named after me. Speaker 7: 21:38 Kronas headed to Stanford to study political science and economics, the grandson of immigrants from Mexico. He said the support for minority students on the Stanford campus is one of the main reasons for his choice. Speaker 8: 21:48 It's just that idea of seeing someone that represents you in a place that you could never see yourself. Like you never thought you could see yourself. That's really empowering to my family and my like how I view the world. Speaker 7: 22:00 Arushi dogra is the valedictorian at Del Norte high school in the power unified school district. She and her friends were sad. So many end of the year events were canceled, but Dogar says the journey was well worth it. Speaker 5: 22:12 Like in high school I learned to take a lot of initiative by myself, whether it be like clubs that I've started or like, which classes to take. Like those decisions were pretty much like completely mine. Um, and it helped me both look like decision making cause I, I'm usually pretty indecisive about things and also just like, um, like planning my own future in a way. Speaker 7: 22:34 She's graduating with a 4.59 GPA and attending Yale where she hopes to study microbiology. Looking ahead. She's anxious about being surrounded by equally accomplished students, but there's a lot to be excited about. Speaker 5: 22:45 Yeah, that's definitely intimidating. But, um, I think it's also exciting in a way because I'm excited to meet people that, that like I have the same interests as me, have had some of this similar experiences as me. Um, and yeah, Speaker 1: 23:01 joining me is KPBS education reporter Joe Hong. Joe, welcome. Speaker 7: 23:06 Thanks for having me. Speaker 1: 23:08 Jorge Nunez and the others will be given their speeches at virtual graduation ceremonies. Can you tell us what those ceremonies will be like or are like? Speaker 9: 23:19 Yeah, so they're going to be prerecorded and they're going to be uploaded on YouTube and it's basically the ceremony is going to sort of imitate what it, what, uh, an in person graduation would look like. You're going to hear speeches from the valedictorian, uh, in this case for Hey, um, and the salutatorian, the ASB president, a principal and a teacher representative. And then the principal is gonna, uh, name the, the graduates and that'll be all prerecorded and put on YouTube. Speaker 1: 23:51 And there are also drive by graduation parties for students. How do those celebrations take place? Speaker 9: 23:57 So, uh, those are a little more festive. You know, folks who can get in their cars, students are going to get their captain downs, uh, and uh, they're going to decorate their cars and sort of drive up to campus, uh, where teachers and staff will be cheering and pick up their diplomas and drive off. Speaker 1: 24:17 Now all the valedictorians you interviewed are going on to really prestigious schools. Do they know yet whether they'll be attending in person or taking classes online Speaker 9: 24:29 that they're not for sure yet, but the students I spoke with are expecting, uh, places like Stanford and UC Berkeley to be online for the fall, at the very least, a hybrid sort of format. Speaker 1: 24:43 When will they know? Because it's going to take some time for them to travel from San Diego to Yale and Berkeley and all of the schools. You mentioned Speaker 9: 24:52 the students are really in limbo right now. One of the valedictorians I spoke with Carlos, he, he said he literally signed a housing contract for Harvey Mudd college and he doesn't know if they're going to be in person, but got us just sort of roll with the punches, I guess. Speaker 1: 25:07 You know, there's a tinge of sadness in the comments of these valedictorians. This virtual graduation world was not what they worked so hard for. What did you sense from the kids? You talked with Speaker 9: 25:19 these kids, you know, obviously they're, they're very smart, but they're also very humble and they, they're very aware of what's going on. So yeah, they, they are disappointed. Um, but they're very much sort of like, you know, we understand that this is a very small sacrifice in the context of the pandemic. But in a case like horray Nunez, you know, this is something he's wanted to do for his parents and he's wanting to give the speech for his parents. So I think that is sort of, uh, a bittersweet for him. But they all sort of understand the situation. Speaker 1: 25:56 You mentioned parents, how are their families taking this switch to virtual graduations? Speaker 9: 26:02 It almost seems like the parents are a little more disappointed than, than the students because uh, you know, when I reached out to interview these valleys, horns, they, they were grateful because they felt like, uh, are sort of moment in the spotlight was sort of taken away from them. Speaker 1: 26:19 Did you get the impression any of the valedictorians thought their hard work wasn't worth it because of this? Speaker 9: 26:25 No. I mean, absolutely not. I mean it's almost the opposite where they feel like they all had very positive experiences in high school and they're all grateful for the high school experience, but they're also very much looking ahead and thinking about what they're going to do when they go to college. Um, sort, the clubs are going to join and they're excited for the people they're going to meet. Speaker 1: 26:48 Now I just want to ask a couple of quick questions about the status of schools and the school year in San Diego. Governor Newsome said yesterday that an announcement was coming about modifications for school reopening that announcement expected anytime now our schools in San Diego preparing for the return of students. Speaker 9: 27:08 Yeah. Well, it's ultimately going to come down to how much funding they get from the state and federal government. So the ideal situation for a school district like San Diego unified, which is the second largest in the state, um, would be to extend the school year, but it's unlikely they'll get the state and federal funding needed for that. Um, it's possible right now that the state will provide some additional funding, which may allow for a school district like San Diego unified to extend the school year for a couple of weeks for vulnerable student populations. This includes, uh, homeless students, uh, foster children who sort of experienced more, uh, what they call learning loss during this time. Speaker 1: 27:55 So it sounds that unless they get the funding, school officials aren't really on board with the governor's idea that in school classes could start as early as this summer. Speaker 9: 28:07 Right. Um, and you know, the school district officials are very clear about that. It's they, they literally need the funding to reopen schools because you're going to need more social distancing measures, which means smaller class sizes. You're going to need a fragmented school day, which means more you. You're going to need more staffing to support that. Speaker 1: 28:29 I have been joined by KPBS education reporter Joe Hong and Joe. Thank you. Thanks for having me. Speaker 10: 28:41 [inaudible] Speaker 4: 28:45 touch is such a basic function. Many of us probably don't wonder where does this come from? From the feeling of a hug to the sting of a bee, we take the sensory experience for granted. Well, it turns out a script's research scientist, dr Ardam Pat a podium was in a girl to discovering what explains the sensation and today he is being honored with a prestigious award, the 2020 Covley prize in neuroscience to recognize his contribution. The prize comes with a $1 million award and a gold medal. KPBS science and technology reporter Shalina chatline. He has more Speaker 11: 29:19 RDM. You've been honored for your work. Regarding the human sensory experience. You're able to identify genes in our DNA that give us that biological coding to well feel from touch, specifically temperature and pressure. Tell us a little bit more about your work and considering that most of us don't even think about touch. It's such a basic function. How did you even get into this line of work? Speaker 12: 29:44 It is true that we take touch for granted, but it is an amazing sense. The pleasure we get from a cool gentle breeze. The joy we get from the embrace of a loved one or the shock, even pain of being pricked by a cactus. All of these depend on what we call touch, which is a way for our nervous system to recognize physical forces within our environment, such as temperature and pressure as you mentioned. So how do we accomplish this? It's um, ourselves, our bodies are in a way experts at communicating with each other through chemicals. We all know about hormones, neurotransmitters or everything we taste or smell are all based on chemicals. Uh, but how do we sense these physical forces, right? Such as, uh, temperature and pressure. So David Julius, his lab, my lab and many others have identified these biological sensors, proteins that actually turn physical forces into chemical or electrical signals that the cells understand. Speaker 12: 30:48 So these studies are kind of like finding keys to a room that enables you to understand what goes on in these rooms. In our cases we found that these keys enable a deeper understanding of touch and pain with actually some clinical implication for for pain. Um, and one of the really coolest surprises for our studies has been that, uh, this key seemed to always also app open doors that we didn't even think about. What I mean by that is these pressure sensors that we found in addition to sensing, touch and pain are doing things like sensing blood pressure in our blood vessels and also very unanticipated roles such as they're in red blood cells, which then, uh, regulate how much these cells are squeezed while they go through capillaries and how this affects human health in again, very unanticipated ways. Speaker 11: 31:45 I think that's, that's so exciting that your research has led to discovery of these particular genes. And whenever I interview anyone who's worked with genetics, I always wonder what are the implications for people who are experiencing certain rare diseases? Speaker 12: 32:03 Absolutely. Um, I want to make this point in two very different ways. One is in a very general way, uh, it's wonderful to be asked what are the implications of this for human health? But I want to really emphasize the importance of doing basic science because many times we never anticipate what the basic findings in the laboratory, how they're going to translate to helping human health. A great example of this is CRISPR, where initially investigators were looking at this topic of, um, how does bacteria that are infected by viruses deal with it? This seems like has nothing to do with human health, but as one of the major biomedical discoveries of the last few years, that's really transforming not just basic research but pharmaceutical industry. So coming back to our work, um, fascinatingly, one of the aspects, one of the clinically important, uh, aspect of pain is something called tactile allodynia. Speaker 12: 33:08 It's a complicated name, but it's actually very simple. What it means is conditions in which touch becomes painful. Um, easiest example for this is after sunburn, we're just wearing a tee shirt or just touching your back will be painful, right? And so this is when innocuous touch stimulation becomes painful. So for us, some burns, something happens and it goes away in a few days, but many people who suffer from neuropathic chronic pain suffer from this every day. And there's actually no good treatments for this. As you may know from the opioid crisis in this country, that there are actually no great medicines for lots of different pain indications. And the work from our lab and others have shown this, this ion channels, this proteins that we've talking about in addition to being responsible for touch are actually responsible for this touch induced pain that occurs in people that suffer from neuropathic pain. And so we know now, uh, these are early days, but we know that if you suppress this ion channel in these patients, you would actually get some relief. So we're excited about pursuing this line of investigation as a direct clinical implication of the, of the work that we do. Speaker 11: 34:25 And I'm sure for the folks that are listening who may be experiencing neuropathic pain themselves or know someone who is experiencing that. This isn't a really a really exciting discovery from your lab. And I'm glad that you brought up the role of science for the sake of curiosity in general, because right now we are an incredible time for the scientific community. The coronavirus pandemic has called upon scientists to fast track much of their work that would normally take them decades around the world. People obviously are searching for vaccines and antivirals, but there are computer sciences figuring out how to map transitions across the globe, psychologists studying pandemics, psychological conditions that could happen after this outbreak. What is happening in the field of neuroscience right now. And how do you feel about this fast paced work that's happening in the scientific community? Speaker 12: 35:16 Yeah, it's a, um, yeah, obviously it's very, very interesting. Um, I'll, I'll talk about it from a general biomedical research point of view. How this is affecting scientists is, this might not apply to my laboratory, but for example, the Institute that I work in, Scripps research, it's been really fantastic. See, uh, scientists who can just roll up, roll up their sleeves and pivot in a way and start working on trying to understand this, uh, virus and, and how to cure it. And again, scripts is a great example of this where, uh, many different studies including, uh, doing screens for new drugs to, um, use it for coronavirus. This is on drugs that we call repurposing, which means they already existed for, um, testing against other diseases. But now if we just find them that they also work on the coroner virus, this tenure that people say between discovery and medicine can really be cut short to much, much shorter time points. Speaker 12: 36:18 And again, there is a incredible effort in the scientific community to try to fight this virus. And again, this is wonderful because people are sharing their data. Um, and it's really a global effort as well. I also should say that there is, um, incredibly increased interest in science right now and I think we need to harness this. Um, just as an example again from my scripts research Institute example, we used to hold these front row public lectures that about, um, part of to give a talk to the public and about 200 people at a time assembled to listen to the faculty with the shutdown shutdown. We transitioned to a webinar format and um, the last one I think had 1700 people listening to these talks. And again, society is hungry to hear the science perspective of this. And I guess finally I would also say beyond communicating current science findings, I think of it is that science should not just be for scientists. And the pandemic again has, if anything highlighted the importance of rational data driven decision making and the importance of this for our society. So I think it's an opportunity to, um, for all of us, the public journalists, scientists to be engaged, to highlight science and, and, and help in some of the decisions that we have to take when confronted crises like this. Speaker 13: 37:55 I couldn't have said it better myself. Uh, well, we are so excited to see the work that continues to come out of your lab and congratulations on your prize. Speaker 12: 38:07 Thank you so much. Speaker 13: 38:08 Thanks so much for speaking to us. I've been speaking to dr [inaudible] of Scripps research. Speaker 14: 38:16 Uh, uh, Speaker 13: 38:19 the pandemic has exposed so many ways. People with disabilities are especially vulnerable to isolation. A few days ago was global accessibility awareness day. The idea is to get people thinking about digital access and inclusion for people with disabilities. Kate [inaudible], Julia McEvoy brings us the story of an educator in Sonoma County who works with kids who are visually impaired. He's been getting creative about making sure his students can keep learning. Here's how Neil McKenzie turned his garage into a tactical production. The center, when word went out Friday, March 13th, that schools were shutting down starting that Monday. Neil remembers just kind of freezing in place in his office. Speaker 8: 39:04 So what can I do? What's like the most important thing? It's so overwhelming. You almost have to just focus on one thing. Speaker 13: 39:11 Neil works with visually impaired students from kindergarten all the way to high school age. So what he focused on were the machines, the ones that can print out the assignments and instructions in braille. Speaker 8: 39:22 We were talking about kids who really just need that braille. They need that tactile reference. There's really no standard for that. Speaker 13: 39:31 So Neil spring into action, Speaker 8: 39:34 I was able to go back to our office for, I think I had half an hour Speaker 13: 39:37 and he started moving these large machines into his small compact car. They now sit in his garage along a wall in between the car and his laundry machines. Speaker 15: 39:49 So now we're going to walk over to my left because I can't go the other way cause the cars are blocking it. And we are walking up to my three D printer, which is also going and you can also hear the washer and dryer. So this place gets pretty noisy. Speaker 13: 40:10 Neil is what's called an assistive technology specialist for the Sonoma County office of education. So he's the guy who helps students to learn how to use tech solutions to accelerate their learning and participate in class. So when schools shut, Neil knew he had limited time to instruct his visually impaired students on how to navigate this new tool. Everyone was suddenly using to hold their virtual classrooms called zoom Speaker 8: 40:35 cause some of them were like, Oh, in three days I'm having my first zoom class and we're, we're going to get going. And I'm absolutely worried about it because some of these things haven't been tested. You know, a lot of these programs, I'd say one out of three aren't accessible to some of our students. Speaker 13: 40:49 Neil has been working with the Sonoma County schools for 11 years now. He kind of fell into it, if you can believe that. He was working construction during the great recession in 2008 and he was out of work. So he started volunteering to help visually impaired students and got hooked. And that is how he met Mario Chitwood. I met him in third grade. Mario's in high school now. Well other teachers see students come and go. Neil keeps working with students like Mario through their entire time in the district. He loves bad jokes. I waited and stayed up all night and tried to figure out where the sun was. Then it dawned on me, yeah, you get the idea. Speaker 16: 41:34 He's just a great guy to be around. He makes people around him happy, Speaker 13: 41:40 but it was the assistive technology that really connected these two. They loved finding anything that could make Mario's life more interesting or make you more independent. We just began to bond over finding new things and I pushed him to teach me. We push each other really after Mario's family lost their entire home in the massive 2017 tubs fire. It was Neil who helped Mario get a new computer designed for the visually impaired, a pricey one called up Polaris and it's Neil who's been delivering braille materials printed out from the machines in his garage, right to Mario's doorstep during the entire time of this pandemic Speaker 17: 42:23 because right now the math that I'm doing, it has to do a lot with the visuals, so he prints out like diagrams and I can then get the same information that a sighted person would get. Speaker 10: 42:38 [inaudible] Speaker 13: 42:39 it's been two long months since school campuses closed and Neil says things are getting a little better as far as zoom goes. He did manage to get his students what they need to translate their screen and to braille. He's still just trying to run slightly ahead of classroom teachers to make sure his students get the tech they need, Speaker 16: 42:57 trying to make sure that they're not left behind with this remote learning. Speaker 13: 43:01 So Neil continues to problem solve. He's just set up another mini factory in a braille teacher's garage, so she too can print and deliver materials to students for the California report on Julia McAvoy in Sonoma County.