SDSU Moves All Classes Online After 64 Students Test Positive for COVID-19, UC San Diego Joins Second National Clinical Trial For COVID-19, Should the City Of San Diego Be Its Own Power Company?
Speaker 1: 00:00 The COVID-19 outbreak closes the SDSU campus. Speaker 2: 00:03 There have been lots of reports from students and people around the college area of some parties and large gatherings people just in general, not wearing face coverings, not following the rules. Speaker 1: 00:12 I'm Mark Sauer with Alison st. John. This is KPBS mid day edition Choosing volunteers for a major coronavirus vaccine trial beginning in San Diego. Speaker 2: 00:29 We're prioritizing communities that have been hardest hit by COVID, which in San Diego are primarily communities of color in the South state and East counties. Speaker 1: 00:39 The case for replacing SDG and E with a publicly owned utility and a mother and son duo combined music and art as part of our summer music series. That's ahead on mid day edition, Just nine days after bringing nearly 8,000 students back to campus. San Diego state university officials pulled the plug yesterday. The move came as 64 COVID-19 cases were reported and 100 other students went into quarantine KPBS reporter. Matt Hoffman has been covering the campus reopening and joins me now. Hi Matt. Hey Mark. So do we know how the students, the 64 students we're talking about at SDSU contracted the virus? Speaker 2: 01:29 So not exactly. I mean, so we know there's 64 confirmed or probable cases since the semester began. That was last Monday. We know some are related in some art, and we know that there's at least one outbreak that's been identified by County health officials. So that's three or more cases. Um, and that's an off campus apartment building. Now it's unclear exactly how many cases they found there, but we know that County health officials are investigating links between other cases, and we could see more outbreaks named. So while we don't know exactly like how these cases have been spreading, there have been lots of reports from students and people around the college area of some parties and large gatherings people just in general, not wearing face coverings, not following the rules, uh, mingling with other cohorts. Um, and we know that County public health, dr. Eric McDonald pointing to off-campus socializing sort of warning the students about this dramatic increase in cases was just 20. The other day. Now is 64 is a sign of how quickly this virus can spread. You should not be scheduling or attending a social gatherings that are not essential. And the essential job of a student is to participate fully in education. And most of that is online. Speaker 1: 02:33 Last week on midday, we spoke with union Tribune, reporter Gary Robbins about him seeing many students without masks and mingling on and around campus over the last few weekends. How has the university warning students in enforcing the wearing of masks and social distancing? Speaker 2: 02:49 I mean, just in general, they've been sending out a lot of info to students, whether it's via email, via social media, you know, about the requirements as they've been changing from the state, from the County. Also you go on campus, um, for those that have those limited number of classes on campus, um, and keep in mind, we're only talking about like 200 or so in person classes. The university was mainly online and those in person classes are like chemistry 100, which is typically a sort of a freshmen class there, uh, but a lot, lots of signage on campus. Um, and we know that just recently SDSU now, uh, contracting with private security guards. So some of these elite security guards wearing the red tops, you typically see like an SDSU sporting event, a basketball game. They're now walking around campus, uh, reminding students, Hey, you know, make sure you have a mask, make sure your social distancing and they can report like violators to the school and they can do everything from, you know, suspending somebody to an extreme cases, uh, expelling them. Uh, they said that I think in a three day timeframe before this, like 64 cases were announced, they issued 40 citations to both students and on campus organizations. And so there's investigations underway following those sort of like an administrative violations. Speaker 1: 03:56 How is the university responding to this big jump in case? Speaker 2: 04:00 So I think we're seeing this response right now. I mean, they're putting the pause button, right? They're going for a four week pause. Um, and that applies also to things like athletics, but athletics, you know, they're, they're not doing a four week pause. They're going to do, uh, just a two week pause that actually goes into effect starting today. And you know, also part of this too, things like the library arc are closing that, which has been open, which I know talking to students earlier this week is sort of a bummer for them. I mean, they like to go to the library, you know, even if they have to go there, they say to be temperature checked and wear their masks. They'd rather go there as a quiet place to study. So the library is closing down, um, also something to keep in mind, Mark to SDSU officials and County health officials saying as of yet, no hospitalizations have been found among students, but majority of them have had symptoms. Speaker 1: 04:44 And when you're talking about athletics, we're talking about practices, right. Because they're pushing the football season back, Speaker 2: 04:51 Right? Yeah. So we are talking about practices and so they have to put everything on hold for two weeks. Um, and then they're going to reevaluate and sort of, you know, it's sort of like, where do we go after this sort of four week period? Now SDSU says that they're going to be looking at sort of a number of factors, including, uh, the number of cases that happen, you know, in the next few weeks also looking at the positivity rate and the availability of testing, which SDSU says that they are in the process of beefing up with the County. Um, there's at least one testing site in a parking lot and it's all free. Um, and the health officials say, look, you know, that this is going to go in the triple digits is that 64 right now. But, um, they're just starting to, to trace or starting to test, excuse me, the close contacts of those, uh, 64 cases that have, uh, tested positive. So we're likely to see more cases Speaker 1: 05:34 And you spoke to a few SDSU students about this what'd they have to say, Speaker 2: 05:38 Mark, I did speak to some students earlier in the week. And that was when they had 20 cases that have been reported since campus had started. And a lot of students were saying, you know, what did school officials expect? You know, like it's college kids, a lot of them aren't following the rules. Now they're saying there are people that are definitely following the rules, but people sort of pointing to SDSU party is sort of carrying through the pandemic. They say, I'm just walking around, talking to people. There's lots of parties going on, still gatherings going on. And they say that's sort of college it's sort of expected. So finally, what's the university plan going forward when the might they give the green light for some students to come back to campus again. Right. So as of right now, this is just a four week pause. Speaker 2: 06:19 Now this is different from like what Chico state did. Um, uh, last week when they said, Hey, look, we're going to, we're going to, um, put the whole kibosh on our minimal, um, in person classes. Um, now we have SDSU saying, we're going to do a four week pause. So they're not, you know, they're not going out of the in person class game yet, so to speak. Um, so being streamed to see, like we said, when they look at these, you know, whether it's by looking at things like number of cases, the positivity rate and the availability of testing in the coming weeks, um, it'll be interesting to see, you know, whether the numbers really go way up or if they, um, go up a little bit and start to stabilize. So a lot of unknowns here, I've been speaking with KPBS reporter, Matt Hoffman. Thanks man. Thanks Mark. Speaker 3: 07:00 The centers for disease control is notifying States that new vaccines for COVID-19 could be rolled out as soon as next month. Raising questions about the speed with which vaccine trials have been conducted. Meanwhile, UCS D is recruiting almost 3000 candidates in San Diego and Imperial counties for a new vaccine trial here to explain what's involved in the trial is dr. Susan Little who is leading the AstraZeneca trial at UC S D dr. Little, thank you so much for joining us. Thank you. So tell us more about this vaccine trial and what it would involve. Well, the AstraZeneca vaccine rolled out nationally last week, starting August 28th, and we hope to begin recruitment here in San Diego next week. Uh, and in Imperial Valley, uh, probably a week or two later, uh, we'll be recruiting. Uh, I hope just over a thousand or 1500 individuals in both sites. Speaker 3: 07:52 Uh, we are looking for adults 18 or older in generally good health, but underlying conditions are fine. Meaning people with preexisting diabetes, heart disease, lung disease, et cetera, are fine, as long as they haven't been hospitalized in the last three months. And in particular, we're also looking for older adults, age 65 and older, how does this vaccine work? And does it differ from others being developed? Almost all of the vaccines that are in development are using a similar approach that is they're using the spike protein of the coded virus to elicit a, um, a response. Um, so they take a, a vector that is the vaccine construct and they embed within it a piece of the, uh, SARS virus. Um, and that just the small piece that spike protein is hoped will, um, allow the person who's been vaccinated to elicit, uh, an antibody response, a protected antibody response. So this vaccine is very similar to the others. It just uses a different vaccine platform with the same spike protein embedded within it. Speaker 4: 08:58 Are you prioritizing your outreach efforts to certain communities? Speaker 3: 09:02 We are we're prioritizing communities that have been hardest hit by COVID, which in San Diego are primarily communities of color in the South Bay and East counties. And those communities I think have the greatest opportunity to benefit, um, from an effective vaccine. Um, and for that reason, we are prioritizing those communities. Also communities of so-called essential workers, people who are at greater risk of acquiring COVID by virtue of their work, people who are exposed to COVID because they're out in the workforce Speaker 4: 09:35 And you're planning to recruit people by going to certain communities in a bus. Speaker 3: 09:40 I think that's one of the most unique features of this study is that we've developed an entirely mobile vaccine clinic. So we will be taking a mobile vaccine, a mobile vehicle to certain communities, and we're going to focus on Chula Vista, Imperial beach and Lamesa, and we will be taking our, um, mobile vehicle to those locations and, uh, parking. And we will not allow walk-ups, but we will schedule people who have contacted us through our website and our phone number. Um, and we will be, um, doing the vaccinations on the bus. Um, and, um, then coming back for followup visits, uh, and we will have separate mobile vehicles for people who have acquired or believe they may have acquired COVID in the course of the study followup. So we won't be mixing people who may be infected with people who are not okay, Speaker 4: 10:32 Bearing in mind that the CDC is now talking about rolling out approved vaccines next month. You know, given that phase three trials have only just begun, how realistic is it to expect a vaccine by next month? Speaker 3: 10:44 I think it's unlikely. I do think we're all hopeful that a vaccine study that for instance, the modernist study, which started, um, similar to the AstraZeneca is enrolling 30,000 people over eight weeks. That study started in late July. Um, the hope is that for all of these studies, there are going to be multiple, um, that if they can recruit their target population, 30,000 people over eight weeks that maybe four, six, eight months later, um, that there will be enough end points. That is enough cases of COVID that have occurred in the study population, that they may be able to make a determination of efficacy, but four months strikes me as, uh, optimistic and more likely six months. Um, so I, I think November is perhaps more politically motivated than scientifically motivated Speaker 4: 11:41 Your vaccine trial is scheduled to go on for two years. So if another vaccine comes out sooner, would the trial still continue? Speaker 3: 11:48 Yes. Um, there are going to be multiple studies that are released one right after the other, um, and the goal being, uh, ideally we would have multiple vaccines studies, multiple vaccines that work multiple vaccines studies will be ongoing simultaneously all, probably two years of followup. The two years of followup is for safety. Um, and even if we find that a study is effective four or five months into the vaccine study, because we have enough study end points, the study will continue for safety reasons. Um, it is, I hope, um, uh, planned that all people who are once they find that the study is effective, people who receive placebo will be given the opportunity to roll over, as we say to the, to the intervention, to the actin arm. Um, but the study will continue for safety reasons. Um, but the goal is that we will have multiple vaccines that are found to be effective because realistically, if out of all of these studies, we find one vaccine that works. It will be a major challenge to vaccinate, not just the U S but the entire world with only one effective vaccine. Speaker 4: 12:59 I see. And have you at UCS D begun preparing for a strategy to roll out vaccines, the state or the County in communication with healthcare providers in San Diego about this, Speaker 3: 13:10 There is a national effort already to try and discuss equitable access and distribution of vaccine. So, um, certainly medical providers that are involved in the vaccine leadership within the vaccine studies and national leaders are working right now to develop policy so that when an effective vaccine does become available, there is policy in place across the United States that we hope will help ensure equitable access and distribution of the vaccines. Speaker 4: 13:44 So, dr. Little, how can people sign up for your trial? Where, where can people get more information? Speaker 3: 13:50 Vaccine website is COVID vaccine SD COVID vaccine st com. Um, and they, once they go to that website, it is in English and Spanish. Um, they complete a short survey, um, that, uh, prioritizes helps us to prioritize our, the speed with which we respond to individuals. Um, and there's also a phone number (619) 742-0433. Um, if people don't want to use the website, um, and this website will be for all future studies that, that I lead in San Diego. So there will be others that are coming shortly after this AstraZeneca study. Speaker 4: 14:28 Dr. Little, thanks so much for your time. Thank you very much. I appreciate the opportunity. We've been speaking with dr. Susan Little who's leading the AstraZeneca trial at UCS D Speaker 1: 14:54 I'm Mark Sauer with Alison st. John you're listening to KPBS midday edition for about a century. San Diego fans have been buying their electricity from San Diego gas and electric, but the city's agreement with the company is about to expire. Mayor. Kevin Faulkner says he plans to put a new agreement up for bid to private utilities, but KPBS science and technology reporter Shalina chatline. He says, community activists have another vision for the city's energy future public power. Speaker 5: 15:26 It was a scorching hot August afternoon, over a dozen activists, equipped with signs, charts, and graphs of California. Electricity rates lying the stairs of the tall Brown skyscraper at one Oh one Ash street downtown. The building was once occupied by San Diego gas and Electric's parent company, Sempra energy activists gathered here to announce a new coalition. Speaker 1: 15:53 [inaudible] Speaker 5: 15:53 San Diego public power activist brought their demonstration to this building because they say it's symbolic of wasted money. Just like the high rates, San Diego ones pay for electricity. Speaker 1: 16:04 We're paying 18,000, $18,000 a day to pay for this uninhabitable building. The current franchise that SDG and E is delivering a million dollars a day in profits, 50 times larger Speaker 5: 16:18 That's former energy journalists. Craig Rose Rose explains San Diego gas and electric customers pay the highest rates in the state. Well cities that have their own public utilities like Sacramento have among the lowest rates in the state. Another coalition member engineer, bill powers says there's an even more important reason a public utility could help the city better reach its ambitious climate change goals. And we can finally start crafting Speaker 1: 16:44 Destiny, which is solar power for all battery power for all. And we can do it as one big family. Speaker 5: 16:51 Another activist, Sonia Robinson of the NAACP points out there are also issues of inequity saying low income people can't afford SDG knees, high rates. We are asking for a mortgage. Speaker 1: 17:03 Yes, relatable Speaker 5: 17:05 Effective rates for utilities for San Diego. There's another reason these activists want public power. Now Speaker 1: 17:20 Timing, Speaker 5: 17:23 The city faces a deep budget deficit because of the coronavirus pandemic interest rates are at historic lows. And now some say is a good time for a big infrastructure investment, But city leaders aren't on board. The mayor and key members of city council say breaking away from a contract with a private utility like with STG at this time would be too hard and cost too much money. Meanwhile, activist pledged to continue their fight for public power. Of course the backing of city leaders is key, but we'll get to that later. The first question for most San Diegans who've only ever paid SDG bills is how exactly would public power known as municipalization work and how hard would it be to make it happen? Let's go back a hundred years or so with energy consultant, Robert McCullough Speaker 6: 18:22 At the turn of the last century, we had a number of technological geniuses who revolutionized the world and they brought electricity to the markets in North America. Speaker 5: 18:37 Renewers became utility moguls, turning the invention of electric power generation into investor own profit making businesses by the 1920s, less than a dozen investor owned utility sold the majority of electricity in the nation and secured decades of profits by convincing cities to sign franchise agreements with some local regulations. Speaker 6: 18:56 Well that worked well into the great depression, but in the great depression, people couldn't buy electricity. So there was a wave of bankers, Speaker 5: 19:06 The stock market crashed and those massive conglomerates collapsed, ruining investor livelihoods and leaving the energy grid in complete disarray. People began demanding a shift away from the corporation. Speaker 6: 19:17 It's a desire for public power pass through the country. The city governments took control an example on the West coast, Vancouver, British Columbia, Seattle is public power LA the largest Speaker 5: 19:35 Thousands of other us cities have public power around 45 provide power in California. Other major cities like San Diego and San Francisco still operate with those Relic franchise agreements with investor owned utilities from the turn of the last century. But Nicola believes the investor owned utility model. Won't last, it's more people opt for technology like solar panels and cities form community energy programs. Speaker 6: 20:00 People are much more efficient electricity. We now can serve faster than we grow. So in me and said sustaining the Haswell amazing restaurant or utilities. It's real challenge. Speaker 5: 20:13 These days, many cities are reconsidering their franchise agreements, including places like Boulder, Colorado, and Chicago, and even San Francisco has considered the idea of buying out Pacific gas and Electric's local grid for around $2.5 billion. Speaker 6: 20:28 It sort of boils down to, we can control our own reliability. Speaker 5: 20:36 Mylene is executive director of the California municipal utilities association. He says reliability and meeting aggressive environmental goals are two of the main reasons to these opt for public power and public utilities are just like private ones that keep the lights on, but they're run through local utility boards, which were closely with the community. We have Speaker 7: 20:56 They're focused on profits. Our focus is on controlling costs and meeting all of our goals for reliability, affordability, and sustainability. Speaker 5: 21:04 He brings up the Sacramento municipal utility district or smug is one example. The utility formed in the forties and offers residents among the lowest rates in the state with nearly half of its energy mix coming from renewable sources, Speaker 7: 21:17 Lived in other public power communities and they've been pretty good, but this one is just on steroids when it comes to engaging with the community. Speaker 5: 21:32 But some utility experts say public power. Isn't a panacea for all of our energy woes. For example, when much of California experience planned rolling blackouts during a heat wave, smite also had power outages. They weren't because of a lack of power. However, they were likely caused by overheated transmission lines. Also public utilities can make board decisions and waste money just like private ones. And the 1960s Samad purchased a nuclear power plant. Great payers voted in 1989 to decommission it, but it still costs the utility and rate payers. Millions. Speaker 7: 22:04 The municipalization just changes who is in charge. What we want is good, responsive, attentive management, Speaker 5: 22:13 Energy lawyer. Michael Wera says Sacramento is still a good example where public power works, but that's because the management is also good and getting public power in the first place. Isn't exactly a piece of cake. The city has to buy the private utilities, poles and wires, which can cost billions of dollars. Speaker 7: 22:31 You can't just take them for free. You have to pay the owners of those assets. And there are, it is wildly complicated to arrive at a number and it's creates an opportunity to fight. Speaker 5: 22:47 In fact, it took Sacramento two decades of court fights with Pacific gas and electric for the right to buy the infrastructure. Other cities now are also finding themselves in years of litigation like those in the South San Joaquin irrigation district. Speaker 7: 23:02 It there's, you know, if we have to shut down a line for, Speaker 5: 23:05 At a June, 2019 meeting the discord between the city of Mantega in the irrigation district and PGNE is palpable, here's a PG and E representative explaining why they have to shut off wide swats of power. During the fire season Speaker 7: 23:18 Know having to turn off the lights is not something that we enjoy. And it's not a decision that we take lightly, Speaker 5: 23:23 Mayor Benjamin Kentu responding. Speaker 7: 23:25 Well, let me be a little crude. The people in this town are pissed and I put a notice out several weeks ago and I got 68,000 hits from people that did not know what to do. But how do you address a person who has a freezer full of food? And it's going to spoil in a couple of days, Speaker 5: 23:53 Manteca and other cities in the district have been trying to separate from PGNE. Since the early two thousands says Peter recurve, general manager of the irrigation district, Speaker 7: 24:02 And they weren't seeing the level of investment and care in the facilities that they were hoping to receive from PGS. Speaker 5: 24:09 It took nearly a decade, but for the district's application to take over the utility was finally approved. And then when they Sue to condemn PG and E's infrastructure and try to take it over right away, PGNE sued the district back. Speaker 7: 24:21 He actually had a, a pen funded local group called stop the power grab that dried up fairly quickly because they saw that the local community was behind us. Speaker 5: 24:33 I mean, 2008 and 2018, the district spent $27 million on the project. 18 million of that went to legal costs today. The region is still caught in litigation. Limbo. Speaker 7: 24:43 Would you go through that process again? You the answer's yes. And it's primarily because of the value that we think we can bring to our local constituents. Speaker 5: 25:06 And even with widespread community support, municipalization is often an uphill battle. Take Boulder, Colorado in 2010, the city council voted not to extend the city's franchise agreement with its investor owned utility, Xcel energy. Speaker 7: 25:20 It just passed our climate action plan and our carbon tax. Speaker 5: 25:24 Jonathan Cohen is the chief sustainability officer with the city of Boulder. Speaker 7: 25:27 Our electricity supply, um, was the big issue that we needed to wrestle with in terms of meeting our emission reduction requirements. Speaker 5: 25:35 The city wanted more control over its energy mix. And on several occasions, the public voted in favor of a public utility that would prioritize clean energy sources. But 10 years later in 2020, they're still fighting. Now the city's back to considering another 20 year franchise agreement with Xcel, but Cohen says the fight for public power was worth it because the utility has made commitments to meet climate change targets. Speaker 7: 25:59 They're not hitting them. We can buy a boat of the people or a super majority of council boat, exit our franchise and be done and go right back to municipalization Speaker 5: 26:14 Back in San Diego as the protest at one Oh one Ash street showed there's some community activists who are still motivated to go into battle for public power, but there are also forces of resistance, namely, among the bulk of current city leadership. For me, it's an it's a no right now council member, Barbara Bree has consistently said public power. Isn't on the table right now. Why? First of all, it is not free to take over those transmission. We have to issue billions of dollars, Speaker 4: 26:46 The bonds and pay that money back second. I'm, uh, have no confidence in the city to operate anything. Speaker 5: 27:01 San Diego hired consultants to look into the feasibility of public power in their reports. Consultants estimate the costs for taking over STG needs, electricity and gas infrastructure as ranging from around 2 billion to just under $5 billion in all low to medium cost scenarios. The reports say the city would save money with a public power option. The report also says these scenarios are most likely to happen if the city attempts to take over. But the report also says in the highest cost scenario, public power, wouldn't be worth it while the high cost scenario is least likely. That's the advice mayor Kevin Faulkner took his office has moving ahead with an auction to take bids from private utilities to take over the franchise. As for STG genie, the utility did not have a comment for this story, but in an email statements about the franchise negotiations, a company spokeswoman said the company has been a good partner with the city and plans to submit a competitive bid, But on the sidewalk outside the one Oh one Ash street, skyscraper Cody Pederson of the San Diego Democrats for environmental action said activists, aren't giving up. He says, the city consultants overestimated the cost of taking over the grid and that it's not difficult to find good managers for city owned utility screens. Speaker 8: 28:22 Do you need a city that actually starts to work for its citizens more broadly, but this can be done. And we're already working on a path to do that. Speaker 5: 28:28 That path is trying to work with council members to stop any vote at city council. When the mayor presents a franchise agreement. And if that isn't successful, activists say they'll continue to build community and political support for city owned. Utility Speaker 8: 28:43 Target is to create, have municipal power in three to seven years. The path there is going to be bumpy one way or another as bumpy as losing a million dollars a day. No, I don't think it is. Speaker 5: 28:54 Pederson says as franchise negotiations move on and the option of public or private power comes up for debate. It's important that San Diego has never lose sight of their rights to have reliable, clean, and affordable electricity. Shalina Celani KPBS news. Speaker 4: 29:15 And I knew source investigation has found deaths at home are up across San Diego County. Since the pandemic began. Some of those deaths involve COVID-19 victims who received little or no medical help. I knew source investigative reporter. Mary plumber has this story on a family in San Marcus. Speaker 5: 29:32 When Hector Nevara Lopez got sick, he and his wife tried to get medical help, but they were turned away when they arrived at North County health services in San, the husband Speaker 9: 29:42 Had a mild cough and a normal temperature clinic staff were screening patients at the entrance. His wife, Noemi Arroyo Ramirez says the staff quickly retreated inside. Once they learned he had a fever of 101 the night before Speaker 10: 29:56 They say, Oh, you have fever before. Well, I have one, one last night. Oh no, I, we can see it. We can't, her honey Speaker 9: 30:03 Spend would have a phone call with the doctor. Instead during the call, the doctor told him to stay home and get back in touch. Once he had COVID-19 test results, this was the only medical care he would receive before the day he died of the Krone virus a week and a half later County medical examiner records reviewed by news source show that some people died of COVID-19 with no medical help at all. Speaker 10: 30:27 He never told me he, he wasn't paying Speaker 9: 30:29 Navarro Lopez's test, came back positive. His wife called the clinic to report the results. She left a message, but says she never got a call back at their home in San Marcos. She cared for her husband, relying on things she'd seen on television, Google search results and her own intuition. She gave him Tylenol and moved her children into a hotel. So they wouldn't get sick. She checked his temperature every hour. Speaker 10: 30:53 I ask every single time. Do you feel okay? Are you okay? You don't have fever. You don't have, I mean, pain or respiratory problems. And he said, no, Speaker 9: 31:04 Her husband woke up early one morning saying there was a problem with his legs. He looked okay, but his wife called nine one one. When the ambulance arrived, he didn't want to go to a hospital. Speaker 10: 31:14 He, he sit down in the, in the bed and he say, um, I'm OK. Now fucker. I'm fine. I feel better. And I was so worried because I don't know what happened with him. I want at least, um, the doctor check him and see what happens inside to take a, I don't know, extra. It's just something to see. What's what's grown. Speaker 9: 31:35 She says he walked normally to the stretcher, but shortly after he left things, took a turn. He had two heart attacks and died on the way to the hospital. When his wife remembers that day, her mind turns to how helpless she felt, how alone Speaker 10: 31:50 Nobody helped nobody call nobody say anything about how I can take care of him. Speaker 9: 31:56 Where the family tried to get help, declined to comment on Navarro Lopez's care County, public health officials say they attempt to reach every positive COVID case for contact tracing. And that people tested at public clinics like Nevara Lopez was, are contacted by public nurses with Karen structions inside their apartment. Memories are everywhere. Pieces of wood that Nevara Lopez had picked out to make the family a new TV stand photos and athletic trophies. The couple's three youngest children walk outside to their dad's bedroom window, the place they last saw him. Speaker 11: 32:33 So for us to not even be able to hug them or like, you know, feel them and to kind of like Speaker 9: 32:40 See him through a window. Like it was definitely something that, uh, had a big impact. That's Hector, the couple's 22 year old son. He says, when he learned his dad had died, his legs went numb and he felt like he might collapse, but he knows his father would want his children to go after their dreams and work hard in his memory. She wouldn't want us to be sad or crying over his laws because that's just how he was. He everything he would do, he did for us. Navarro Lopez was just 52 years old and had no underlying health conditions for KPBS. I'm a news source. Investigative reporter, Mary Plummer. Speaker 4: 33:19 This story was co reported by I knew source investigative reporter geo Castillano. I knew source is an independently funded nonprofit partner of KPBS. I'm Alison st. John with Mark Sauer and you're listening to KPBS midday edition in these tumultuous times of racial inequality, a global pandemic and growing economic hardships. The arts help us make sense of our feelings and keep us sane with entertainment that allows us to escape the bleak realities as part of our summer music series, songwriter, Alfred Howard and painter, Marian Howard, who happens to be his mother. Join us to talk about their new multimedia project. Alfred Howard writes Al plans to write a hundred songs. Each song accompanied by an original painting by Marion. You can see the paintings and hear the music at kpbs.org/summer music series. Here's their first song from the project quote. We all breathe the same air by Al Howard performed by Nathan. More of a moment when the wind blew in the timbers and the truth was exposed to the [inaudible]. That was Al Howard song. We all breathe the same air performed by Nathan Moore it's of Alan, his mother Marion's new multimedia project. Alfred Howard writes Marion and Al Howard. Welcome to modality. Speaker 12: 35:45 Hey, thank you for having us. Speaker 4: 35:47 Now, the song that we just heard, we all breathe. The same air is the first song released for this project. I got to say, I love some of the lines like 20, 20 vision is a blinding affliction, and I want to read part of the chorus. Again. We all breathe the same air. Only love can pull us through the dark. And if it's one, it's everyone, someone's daughter and someone's son. So Al first of all, you, what does this song mean to you? Speaker 12: 36:11 So this song was a direct response to the lynching of George Floyd and seeing that happen live in the streets in America. And one of the important things about this project to me is like, I've been in bands for years and you'll read a song and sometimes it'll take two years to get the album out, but this platform and creating music this way allows you to be very reactionary. So something like that can happen. And, you know, we were just in shock and awe and also just numb to it too at the same time, because there's been so much of this kind of violence on, on blacks in America. Speaker 4: 36:51 Marion, can you describe your painting for this song? We all breathe the same air it's it's, it's kind of wash of color watercolors you work in, right? Speaker 12: 37:00 Yes, I do. Um, that was a hard one for me because as a mother to a son who was a young black man living here in America, it was very heartfelt. Um, if you can understand what I'm saying. Um, I just, it was, it was heavy for me, very, very heavy. I was very emotional. I cried a lot when I heard it when I heard the words, because it just, it just, it just came to my heart, you know? Um, because all I could imagine is my own son doing the right thing and this him being taken from me just like that, you know? Speaker 4: 37:42 So all of your writing two songs a week, that means that you can respond to what's going on in the news quite in real time. Speaker 12: 37:50 You know, being able to react to it, instantaneously, create a song, have it out as a response, one week later is a different kind of creativity that I'm used to, but I feel like for me, it's the way forward. You know, our art is always reactionary at its best, you know, and there's, there's a lot to be inspired from right now, whether it's like adversely inspired or positively inspired. You know, I always try to find hope in these dark situations. Speaker 4: 38:20 So Al you've been working, uh, as a musician for decades and you're one of San Diego's most prolific musicians, but you were close to quitting music altogether before this project began. What inspired this project? Speaker 12: 38:34 Well, I've been in, uh, eight bands and writing lyrics for eight bands for a long time, but I've also been struggling with chronic Lyme disease for 24 years. And I was getting to this point in my life where the shows and late nights and the toll that it took on my joints, it, it just wasn't pleasant anymore. And it started to feel like work. And then during the downtime of pandemic, I sort of got a passion for writing again. And I was trying to figure out a way to involve myself in music without the gigs, but you know, work senior people. And then I kind of came up with this idea. Let's listen to another song from your project. Now, then this one is called peace Speaker 13: 39:14 Veterans of civil war. Is that a big game Speaker 12: 39:48 That was piece performed by Shelby Bennett vocals in own guitar, Daniel share keyboard with lyrics by Alford Howard? Well, the two of you were obviously very tuned in anyway, but what would you say working together like this has done for your relationship? I lived on the East coast. My son came to the West coast athlete. He graduated from college. So this gives me a chance to really know the person as a young adult, not a child also to involve myself with him. Creatively has been really interesting because a lot of times Alfred and I will sit and we'll talk about something, have a discussion. And we'll say the same thing at the same time. And we'll be thinking about the same thing at the same time. And it just boggles my mind, just not working with Alfred, but as a mother and very, very proud mother. Speaker 12: 40:45 I am so glad that my son is back to writing because as a creative person, I can't imagine never doing my art. It's just unimaginable. And for me to see Alfred not picking up a pen and putting it to paper to write it broke my heart. So what this epidemic that we have going on and that him being closed in for months and me being closed in, I was always going to be able to paint. But when he picked up his pen and start writing and working with this project and shared it with me, I was blown away. And I was like, yes, you really want me to be part of this? Of course they will, you know, no pay, no pay, I'm going, you're going to have to pay the freebie. You know? So, um, this has been very challenging, but very rewarding for me as a mother to see my son create again and such a nice and a big way, and also a very giving kind of way, because Alfred is not selfish. And he's not thinking about himself. He's thinking about all the musicians that can't work right now and how can I enhance their life? How can I help them? And so, yes, I'm, I'm just in awe of what, what I'm able to do with my son right now. Speaker 4: 42:07 So Al anything to add. Speaker 12: 42:10 Yeah. You know, um, especially during the pandemic, like my mom and I, we, we would get together a few times a week. Sometimes we'd watch a movie or, you know, we'd go for walks. And, you know, we both been very careful during the pandemic and we don't get to, to share in the same things that we did, but there's different ways to communicate and getting to communicate via this project, I think has been important for both of us. You know? So we're still sharing something that's really significant and that's, that's been a great and important and needed thing for me in my life. And I hope so for her to, Speaker 4: 42:48 Well, Marianne and L Howard, thank you so much for joining us on midday edition. Speaker 12: 42:53 Thanks. Thank you so much. Speaker 4: 42:55 We'll interview. See a video and learn more about Alan Marianne Howard's project. Go to kpbs.org/summer music series. We're going out on a song songs. I gen Grinnell's the lyrics by Al Howard. It's called always on Speaker 13: 43:15 The [inaudible] dove trees. [inaudible] Speaker 4: 44:53 Coming up on KPBS evening edition at five or six 30 on KPBS television. San Diego unified is urging Congress to pass the heroes act, which would release more funding for schools and join us again tomorrow for KPBS mid day edition here on the radio. If you ever miss a show, you can find them a dietitian podcast on our website, as well as our mid day edition newsletter that comes directly to your email. I am Alison st. John, along with Mark Sauer. Thanks so much for listening. Speaker 13: 45:37 [inaudible].