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Valley Fire Chars Thousands of Acres, Local Scientists Blast FDA Over COVID-19 Plasma Data, UC Takes Environmental Lead

 September 8, 2020 at 12:55 PM PDT

Speaker 1: 00:00 Governor Newsome says most of the wildfires come from bad decisions or accidents. Speaker 2: 00:05 90 plus percent of the fires that we experienced in the state of California on annual basis are manmade fires. Speaker 1: 00:12 I'm Alison st. John with Mark sour. This is midday edition. Universities in San Diego are regrouping plans to reopen in view of rising COVID cases among students Speaker 2: 00:31 I've been trying, but it just may be that you're dealing with human nature here. That's very difficult to control and a virus that is very easily spread. Speaker 1: 00:41 And the first ever of San Diego design week kicks off tomorrow with a focus on how design affects all aspects of our lives. That's all ahead on midday edition With more than two dozen wildfires currently burning around California with eight fatalities and more than 3000 buildings burned. Governor Newsome held a news conference this year. Speaker 2: 01:11 This is historic. This is the largest, uh, fire season we've had in terms of total acreage impacted, uh, in some time back recorded recent modern history, but nonetheless, uh, you put it in comparison terms contrast to last year. Uh, it's rather extraordinary. Uh, the challenge that we faced again so far, this season 2020, Speaker 1: 01:34 More than 2 million acres of burns so far this year, and tens of thousands of Californians remain under evacuation orders. People were emergency airlifted out of mammoth lakes area over the weekend. And the governor said 164 people were emergency evacuated this morning alone, 14,000 firefighters are working the lines. And Newsome said, though, they have improved containment on some of the fires with high winds in the forecast, wildfires still pose a major threat. He said too many of them are manmade, Speaker 2: 02:03 Uh, because it's a reminder that the vast majority of fires that we experience on an annual basis, uh, come from individuals, making bad decisions or, uh, by simple neglect and accident, meaning 90 plus 90 plus percent of the fires that we experienced in the state of California on annual basis are manmade fires. Speaker 1: 02:26 Temperatures of 121 degrees were recorded in the state over the weekend, putting historic pressure on the energy grid. The governor said peak energy Rose from an average of 38,000 to 47,000 megawatts. He said anything about 45,000 puts a stress on California's grid. And the power saved by consumers. Conserving was appreciated. Use some said extreme events are becoming almost normalized in California. And here's a little patience for people who still deny climate change is a reality Speaker 2: 02:56 And firefighters battling the Valley fires since Saturday got a break overnight, Speaker 3: 03:00 Dawn broke today with fog and much cooler temperatures, even a little bit of drizzle. Unfortunately, those conditions aren't going to last with Santa Ana winds expected in the East County tonight, San Diego County supervisor, Diane Jacobs spoke at a press conference about the Valley fire this afternoon. Speaker 4: 03:17 We've been here before and I just hope and pray that we don't see something like we saw in 1970 in 2003 and in 2007, but it's clear the potential is out there for a very dangerous situation. Speaker 3: 03:35 Joining me live from the base camp at VA Haas casino with the latest on the fire is Cal fire. Captain Thomas chutes, who, uh, is, uh, is, uh, been working this fire for the last four days since Saturday, captain chutes. Thanks for joining us. Thanks for having me. And we're exactly, uh, give us the, the status of the Valley fire right now. What's happening? The containment, the buildings lost. Speaker 5: 03:57 Yeah, it can containment sitting at 3%, still a, we have 11 residents destroyed and numerous additional outbuildings. So those are gonna be your shares and, and, uh, the, the other, um, uh, the other types of structures like that, um, the containment we've been working hard overnight and into the morning, really trying to take advantage of this weather, building that containment line. Cause, uh, at 3%, that means, um, even with this weather, we still have 97% of the fire that doesn't have, um, actual line around it. So we gotta build up that perimeter to, uh, to really try and help us for these East winds that have the potential to, to push these embers past the line and, and send it off to the races again. Speaker 3: 04:37 And how many acres have been burned in this fire and where are we talking about specifically? So people have it in their minds. Speaker 5: 04:43 Yeah. So it's just over 17,000 acres and this isn't the habitable area, but I think the easiest way for folks to picture is, is South of Alpine. So, um, South here off of the eight, um, and, uh, it's, it's a very rural area, but, um, ton of structures out here, a lot, a lot of folks who live out here who are affected right now who have been evacuated and, uh, and, and with the road closures, can't, can't get in and out of their place. So we're hoping that things started looking better, but, uh, we really have to get past these couple of days of, of Santa Ana winds to, to, uh, to really start to feel a little bit more optimistic. Speaker 3: 05:20 Has anyone been injured in this fire so far? Speaker 5: 05:23 Yeah, there, there had been two injuries here and, uh, nothing, nothing, uh, uh, life critical, fortunately, but, um, you know, the terrain out here, Raymond rugged, um, the hot, dry temperatures that we've been experiencing, but today was a nice break from that. But this is, uh, this has not been the norm and, or what has been predicted is that the wind's gonna push all this nice green they're out in re breakthrough. And then we have the potential for things to really warm back up for those relatives he needs to drop. And, and for it to be a, a bit more challenging on here Speaker 3: 05:58 And of those rather minor injuries as you're describing them, firefighters or residents, Speaker 5: 06:03 Uh, you can read the information. I do believe they were firefighters, but, um, I, I don't have, uh, I don't have the specifics on that. Speaker 3: 06:11 Okay. So we've had about 1,420 people evacuated according to the press conference. We heard her a while ago. Uh, how was the COVID-19 pandemic being dealt with for those who are evacuated? Speaker 5: 06:23 So we work closely with our red cross partners, and I should say where we're in unified command with the us forest service or they're wonderful partners out here in San Diego. Um, and, uh, we're, we're working alongside red cross who that their, uh, their bread and butter is really getting those shelter set up, really helping us with the evacuation portion. So, uh, once law enforcement carries out the evacuations and I should mention Jenny or sheriff, also a huge partner in this, um, we, we get these people to, uh, temporary evacuation points, um, as needed. So some folks may have places to go. They may have family members that they can, they can go and stay with, but with the COVID situation, um, there's a lot of folks who they may have planned on going, staying with their parents or grandparents, and that's not an option anymore. So red cross sets up these shelters, but a very different structure from in the past. Uh, the, you know, in the past, we came in shelters with hundreds of folks in, um, people staying overnight. Um, that's no longer the case that the goal is to get people in, get them the help they need and, and move them back out. And so, um, really where we're trying to, we're trying to not keep people congregating and it's created a different system, but one, that's still very helpful Speaker 3: 07:30 With this red flag warning, the Santa Ann's kicking up. Uh, what are you bracing for with all that? Speaker 5: 07:36 You know, the, the West side of the fire, um, has been looking pretty good these last couple of days. And, and unfortunately with these wind, we have the potential to see the fire cake up in areas that have otherwise been pretty good. Um, you picture the, the potential, just a regular, you know, anywhere in the County, we can have a start today and have it really become an issue for us. Um, but you look at all the hot embers that are still, um, within part of this fire. Um, any one of those numbers jumping the line and, and we could have a real problem on our hands. And so that's our, that's our biggest concern right now. We have crews all over this fire because there's no part of the fire. That's, that's going to be a unit. Uh, if we have 40 mile an hour plus winds coming through, Speaker 3: 08:17 And we heard at the press conference here just before the new Knauer, that resources are limited because of the 25 fires burning across California. Here's a, here's a bite from United incident commander, Mike Klemow from a bigger picture perspective. We are all strapped and we will protect everything that we can with the resources that we have. And how many firefighters battling this fire? How many aircraft being used in this fire? Speaker 5: 08:44 Yeah, so, so, uh, for this one, we, uh, we have, we have helicopters fixed wing, and we always have that on, on, uh, on our fires, but we're able to call in a bunch more. I believe that the total today was 10 helicopters. Um, we have our, our, uh, the planes that drop retardant that includes the, um, the planes meet staff locally. Um, in addition to that, we have large air tankers and very large air tankers, which can come in and, and drop out a drop considerable amount of retardant. The very large air tankers with the DC 10 style, uh, one, um, personnel 593 personnel assigned out on the line today. So, um, I a huge number of resources, but, um, you know, like the, like you mentioned, it's, uh, it's a challenge. It's a challenge. Anytime you have a bunch of fires burning, you're going to have to kind of triage. Speaker 5: 09:30 You're going to have to, um, determine where the resources will work fast. And so we we've been fortunate down here, but if we do have a conditions worse, it will be challenging to get additional resources down here to help us. And, uh, we are, we are very grateful for our military partners. They've assisted with aircraft. Um, that's been on the fire the last two days as well. And what specific areas have evacuation orders and warnings now, and you expect that it'll change with the winds and how capricious they are. Huh? Yeah. And today the evacuation orders we made the same. So the bear like damn area quarter Maghera ranch, coral Canyon, Los Pinos have a tool in lion's car Baker. Um, but the stuff that popped up yesterday, the quarter Madeira ranch, um, you know, that area is just so big. And, and, uh, we wanted to make sure that we got people out of harm's way. Speaker 5: 10:18 Um, in addition to that, there's, there's a ton of preplanning going on to, uh, make sure that we've identified any potential future evacuation orders. So, um, uh, you know, that involves running models and figuring out, okay, if this fire, um, does blow out what were potential canoes affecting it, and how quickly can we get those evacuation warnings in orders out? So a lot of pre-planning just in case, but, uh, we're really hoping everything stays through the next couple of days. And again, we should continue to work on the containment situation. Well, it's going to be quite a battle out there and those winds roll. We're praying that it doesn't get too bad overnight. I've been speaking with Cal fire captain Thomas shoots. Thanks very much for joining us. Thank you. And thank you for the support. Speaker 1: 11:04 San Diego state university has been forced to backtrack on it's plans to reopen some in-person classes this semester, after nearly 300 students tested positive for COVID-19 SDSU has issued a stay at home order. Meanwhile, questions are being raised about UC San Diego's plan to bring students back in the fall. Joining us has Gary Robbins reported with the San Diego union Tribune. Who's been tracking university reopenings in San Diego. Welcome Gary. Thank you. So fill us in, first of all, on what SDS use approach is now following the revelations earlier this week, that hundreds of students had tested positive Speaker 5: 11:40 Saturday, San Diego state decided to essentially lock down students in their dorms. They have about 2,600 students in dorms, and all of them were told to stay at home, stay in the dorms. They could only leave central things Speaker 6: 11:54 Like food and medical supplies, and perhaps even to exercise the idea they are was that they're trying to, um, control an outbreak. Um, within a week's time, they went from having 64 infections infections among students to 286. Now on Monday night, they extended the lockdown until September. I believe it's 14. So it was about, they extended it for a full week. So those students will be, you know, not be able to go very far for the next week. They've also asked students who are living in housing near campus to do the same thing. I'm not sure how they're going to enforce that, but, um, San Diego state's, um, on campus, students are essentially in lockdown right now. Speaker 1: 12:32 Do you have a sense of, of how many of those students are actually staying on campus and how many maybe going home? Speaker 6: 12:38 I don't know. I talked to one student last night. Um, Caitlin Robinson, what she said was probably moving back into the dorm last night was that she thought what the university was doing with sensible, because they're trying to get the number of new daily cases down. And by limited limiting the amount of, um, places that students can mingle, uh, that, that might get at it. The university has had a really bad problem. Um, you know, during the weekend, when they were moving in just before classes started. And during the following weekend, I spent a lot of time on Cantu campus at night, watching students. And I saw hundreds of them just not social distancing in any way or wearing mouse. They would be standing in big groups outside of Trujillos, where many of them eat, uh, or in front of dorms or over by senior PA ponchos or Padres, you know, the typical places. And on the side streets like Rockford and Mary Lane, um, big parties, no mass, no social distancing, Speaker 1: 13:35 Well bearing in mind that it looks like none of the COVID cases have been traced back to academic schedules. Do you think that this is more the fault of students not social distancing and wearing masks, or is it the fault of the university for bringing students back too soon? Speaker 6: 13:51 I think it has to do with a lot of different things. Um, let's talk about students for a minute. Um, you know, across the United States, 51,000 students have tested positive at more than a thousand campuses. So we have to ask ourselves why. I mean, they've been told what to do to remain safe, but yet many of them are not doing it. So I've been talking to scientists and psychologists about that, and they say, one thing to keep in mind is that you're dealing with 18 to 22 year olds. And in those people, many of those students just have not fully developed emotionally in their brains, particularly in the amygdala and the, and the part of the brain that has to do with reasoning and consequence. So in many people, the brain doesn't fully develop until a person is 25 years old. You also have the exasperations factor, these students, so generally didn't have high school graduations. Speaker 6: 14:39 They didn't get to have problems. Many of them were even able to get jobs over the summer. So by the time they got to college in the fall, they were really exasperated and wanted to blow off some steam. So I think that you're some of that as well. And I think some of it is mixed messaging. We've talked to college presidents locally, and they say, you know, kids look at the news and they see that some people are refusing to wear a mask and others are doing it in a diligent way. And it's a mixed message. Some, some students just adopt the idea of not wearing them. So you have all of these factors and then you have the university's trying to cope with it. San Diego state university and UC San Diego have worked incredibly hard to be ready for this. Um, the educational materials that they've produced a really clear and thoughtful, um, San Diego state Brock brought their students back in the dorms, you know, by phasing them in and by having them sign documents, acknowledging that these students will, you know, a Bay, the roles, um, they've had a lot of medical people on hand to deal with it. Speaker 6: 15:42 And UC San Diego is just about to do the same thing. So the campus has been I'm trying, but it just may be that you're dealing with human nature here. That's very difficult to control. And a virus has that is very easily spread. Speaker 1: 15:57 Well, we've been talking mostly about SDSU so far, but moving to UCS D a an open letter signed by 600 faculty staff and students is calling on the university. It's calling the university's plans to reopen quote negligent and arrogant. First of all, what were the university's plans for reopening Speaker 6: 16:16 The plan called return to learn? It has a lot of components. One of them is bringing back about 75 undergraduates and putting them in very highly socially distanced dormitories and testing them a great deal. So, for example, if I was a student and I was showing up in a couple of days, you know, as soon as I walked on campus, they would test me on the spot before even letting me into the dormitory. Uh, the results would be delivered within 24 hours and in many cases as little as 12 hours. So if they found someone who had tested positive, they would put them in isolation, in other buildings on campus right away, or have them go to some place off campus where they could isolate say with family, they would repeat that test, uh, in 12 to 16 days. The idea is that if I show up on campus today, I may not be showing any Sam symptoms and I might have say, become infected or a day or two earlier. Speaker 6: 17:07 And the incubation period lasts up to 14 days. So they want to make sure they're catching everybody just because you don't test positive when you move in, doesn't mean you're not going to test positive within a couple of weeks. Then the idea is that throughout the semester, you would test students every two weeks and that students would, um, test themselves in a sense by reviewing themselves for daily symptoms, if they were going to be on campus at all. And the same goes with anybody that comes to campus, who is faculty or staff. So it's pretty comprehensive Speaker 1: 17:39 University officials responding to the open letter. Speaker 6: 17:42 Well, they gave us a statement and we're just, they reiterated that. They thought that their, um, um, program was actually very strong. I talked to one of the doctors that is most responsible for responsible for this plan at UC San Diego, dr. Angela Sotia. She believes that they could control an outbreak because they were test them so fast. And so thorough thoroughly. Now, the people who signed the letter don't agree on that. Speaker 7: 18:06 So finally, what is a student who was scheduled to start a new academic year supposed to do right now, Speaker 6: 18:13 In a sense they're expected to roll the dice. Um, if they're going to be living on campus, I have to know, um, that there is a possibility that they'll get a stay at home order or that there'll be sent home. Now, there's also possibility that everything will go fine and that the university will control outbreaks. And it will be a fairly normal experience. As far as living in the dormitories. What will be different is the fact that only about 12% of students will have in person classes. Most of the classes will be taught online. The reason that they're bringing so many kids to two campuses and a lot of their students, aren't from Southern California, they're from other parts of the state and the United States. And particularly overseas, they need a place to live. A lot of these students are going to be sitting in dorms and looking out windows at classroom buildings that are essentially empty most of the time, because most things aren't going to be on line. So it's going to be a very weird experience. However, you cut it, Gary. Thanks for your reporting. Thank you. We've been speaking with Gary Robbins of the San Diego union Tribune. Speaker 7: 19:22 [inaudible] Speaker 6: 19:29 This is KPBS mid-air edition. I'm Mark Sauer with Alison st. John many scientists say the federal government and the scientific community appear to be butting heads on many COVID-19 related issues, whether that's on the importance of daily and rapid Corona virus testing to what types of antivirals or other treatments ought to be authorized in late August. You had another one of these incidences where scientists and government officials appear to disagree occurred. KPBS science and technology reporter shilling, a chatline. He spoke with two San Diego scientists about it, and she's here to give us the background. Hi, Shalina Hey Mark. So let's jump in what happened here? Speaker 7: 20:08 Sure. On August 23rd, the U S food and drug administration, commissioner, Steven Hahn, and president Donald Trump held a press conference where Han announced approval for emergency use authorization of convalescent plasma as a coronavirus therapy emergency use is sort of a fast track approval that lasts during the pandemic. So during the press conference, Trump characterized plasma as a quote, very historic breakthrough. This is a powerful therapy Speaker 6: 20:39 That transfuses very, very strong antibodies from the blood of recovered patients to help treat patients battling current infection, Speaker 8: 20:48 Set an incredible rate of success. Speaker 7: 20:51 And commissioner Han back this up Speaker 8: 20:53 Optimal treatment. The optimal patients as described by secretary ASR, treated with convalesce and plasma at the highest titers, there was a 35% improvement in survival, which is a significant clinical benefit. Now we're waiting for more data. We're going to continue to gather data, but this clearly meets the criteria that we've established for emergency use authorization. And we're very pleased with this. Speaker 9: 21:18 And where is the data that Han is basing this on? Speaker 7: 21:22 Han says this data comes from looking at the results of Mayo clinic unpublished and uncontrolled study of plasma use in about 20,000 patients. And he says scientists at the FDA reviewed the data and looked at other published studies, but the statement and the 35% figure still caught the attention of other scientists like Eric Topol of scripts research Topol in fact, wrote an open letter to commissioner hon asking for a correction because he says those results are grossly overestimated. And based on thin data analysis, I spoke to him about it. Speaker 9: 21:54 There were no data to support that with any breakthrough. There was a preprint that had a retrospective data, dredging cherry picking analysis that raised a hypothesis that there might be some benefit of convalescent plasma, but to call it a breakthrough, it was preposterous because we know that the antibodies that people make after an infection, most of the antibodies are of no value. Only a tiny fraction are truly neutralizing, potent antibodies. So to make this declaration and to make this pronouncement of saving 35 lies, per hundred, who are sick, w you know, it's absurd, Speaker 7: 22:38 Been granted emergency use authorization, the convalescent plasma what's next. I mean, Speaker 9: 22:44 Well, I mean, if it had been get ranted this EUA without the fanfare and grandstanding, that might've been not so bad because, you know, at least there's something out there for an emergency use as when you do that. And you say it has this, you know, miracle treatment. We don't even know if it works. And moreover, uh, it could still have side effects, issues concerned, but mostly we can't do trials anymore. Now. That's interesting what Topol said there, what does he mean by there can't be any more clinical trials. Speaker 7: 23:19 What he means is that to do clinical trials, you have to have the question of whether something works or not. And he says, the administration basically undermine that by coming on and saying, Hey, this has lifesaving properties. So there's this sort of contradiction between the FDA saying, Hey, we need more data. And also this works. That's why he's asking Honda, correct. What he said at the conference. Now I asked the FDA about the science community's concerns and they, me back to press releases where they essentially say that emergency use was based on the totality of available scientific data. But about a week later after this press conference, the national institutes of health released a statement saying there's not enough well controlled, adequately powered randomized clinical trial data results to show that plasma is safe and effective enough for COVID-19 patients. They say like Topo, that the data was cherry picked. Speaker 5: 24:13 No we've seen government officials and health experts butt heads before like dr. Anthony pouchy of the CDC carefully correcting some statements from president Trump regarding the pandemic. But what about this? Why is this causing so much stir from the scientific community? Speaker 7: 24:28 I think a good way to think about this as a sort of straw that broke the camel's back, because it's not just hopeful. Who's concerned. Twitter was a buzz with scientists and some supporters going back and forth on a conference. And I spoke to virologist, dr. Suma Trenda, the Sanford Burnham previs medical discovery Institute. Who's had following what he called the FDA's premature support and emergency use authorization of antiviral hydroxy, chloroquine, which the FDA had to revoke this supportive plasma with limited data was too much for him to stay quiet. Speaker 5: 25:00 Our entire, um, medical treatment strategy relies on our trust in the FDA, right? Nobody is looking at the clinical trial data going, Hey, should I take this drug or not? Right. We trust that the FDA is not using anything but the best science, right. To come up with their recommendation. And that's no longer happening at the FDA and the CDC. And I feel that as scientists, we have an obligation to citizenry to say, Hey, listen, this is fundamental to our way of life. Uh, and, and our health and safety while. So what does he think had happened? Next? Speaker 7: 25:42 Trenda is very concerned of a fast tracked approval by the FDA and CDC for a company to develop and distribute a vaccine. The CDC has already sent letters to state governors to be ready to distribute a vaccine by November 1st, just before election day. But Trenda says that's not a safe timeline. Most vaccines are still in clinical trials. And that data has to be reviewed for safety, which could take until at least the end of the year. Speaker 5: 26:07 I'm not saying that look getting a vaccine out as quickly as possible is not the right thing to do. Right. But as quickly as possible means doing the right types of studies, right? So you're more, more light. You're going to do more harm than good. If you fast track a vaccine that either isn't efficacious, which is best case scenario for a vaccine that doesn't work right. Um, or that has heart that has side effects, right? But giving a drug to somebody who's not sick, that you don't understand what the and efficacy Speaker 10: 26:44 Profile is Speaker 3: 26:45 Ethically unapproachable. And now there's the report today that major drug companies, including Pfizer or Johnson and Johnson that are working on a COVID-19 vaccine, they issued a public letter vowing, not about a political pressure from president Trump. They say any vaccine will go through rigorous trials necessary to ensure safety and effectiveness. And then Trump on Monday reiterated his belief that vaccines will be on the market before November based on what the scientists are saying, how can we trust what the government is putting out? Speaker 10: 27:15 So I think most scientists would say believe in the health institutions and health experts, but Trenda and Topol say there have been serial incidents that have raised some alarm, and it's important for the science community and the public to demand that our health not be politicized and to stand up for correct information to be disseminated. Speaker 3: 27:37 I've been speaking with KPBS science and technology reporter Shalina chat Lani. Thanks. Shelina glad to be here. A link to a letter from dr. Eric Topol, asking for FDA commissioner Steven Hahn, to tell the truth about the data on Khan bolus, a plasma or resign is on our website, kpbs.org. Speaker 10: 28:01 Okay. Speaker 1: 28:01 We produce over 300 million tons of plastic globally every year. And around 50% of that is used only once and then thrown away plastic trash remains on the planet. And in our oceans for hundreds of years, a bill by San Diego assembly member, Lorena Gonzalez AB 10 80 would have phased out single use plastics in California by 2030, but failed to pass the state assembly this week. However, earlier this month, the university of California resolved to phase out single use plastics on their 10 campuses over the next decade here to tell us how they propose to do that is Veronica Michael's UCLA student representative for Cal Pogue, which is the California public research interest group. That's a nonprofit, but lobbied for the change. Veronica, welcome to the show. Speaker 10: 28:48 Hi, so great to be here. Thank you for having me. Speaker 1: 28:51 I used to think that, you know, throwing away a few straws or plastic forks, can't be that big a deal, but remind us, why is plastic waste such a problem? Speaker 10: 28:59 Primarily so much of this plastic ends up in our oceans where it injures and kills Marine wildlife like whales and sea turtles. Um, we're finding plastic now in the very deepest part of our ocean in the Mariana trench, but also in the remote parts of the Rocky mountains where plastic fibers have been found in the soil coming down from rain in the sky. The most shocking study that I found that really has influenced my work is on average, on a weekly basis, we actually consume about a credit cards worth of plastic in microplastics. So it's not just a environmental issue, but it's definitely something that humans should be very aware of as well. Now, before we talk about Speaker 1: 29:42 The university of California's pledge, I've got a question about the bills to reduce single use plastics that failed this week in Sacramento. And, you know, if they'd pass, they would've made California a national leader in phasing out single use plastics, but they did not pass. And this is the second year they failed to get enough support who who's opposing those bills. Speaker 10: 30:01 Um, primarily it, the opposition comes from the plastics industry and the fossil fuel industry that are able to still profit off of the production and sale of plastics. Of course, plastics are made as a byproduct of fossil fuels. And so it's very, very profitable for them. And historically they have opposed bills. Um, for example, the American chemistry council heavily lobbying against the California plastic grocery bag ban, which we did work to pass a few years ago. Um, and so they're still working hard to stop restrictions like this from being put in place in California. And even in other States advocating that they don't take these steps forward or debt that any solutions that they put forward just aren't the right ones. It just isn't the right time to pass them. Speaker 1: 30:49 Okay. So they failed in the legislature, but you see, has resolved to take action on their 10 campuses here in California. And that's a start, what will phase out soonest and what will take longer? Speaker 10: 31:00 The fastest thing that they're going to be phasing out is plastic bags throughout all food service on campus. But then in addition to that, they are working to phase out single use food where utensils forks, knives, straws, stirs, and that'll be as soon as July of 2021. And then by July of 2022, they'll be phasing out plastic plates, cups, clamshell containers that are single use, and really primarily opting to use reusable items instead, um, as well as some locally compostable alternatives. And then the other great thing is there'll be working to phase out single use plastic beverage bottles by 2023. And the longterm goal is to phase out all nonessential single use plastics on all 10 of the UC campuses by the year 2030, if not sooner, which is also something that several of the UC campuses have opted to do is actually to speed up that timeline. Speaker 1: 31:58 Have any of the campuses come up with innovative alternatives yet? That could be an example. Speaker 10: 32:04 Yes, I'm. That is actually one of the things that has been so exciting to see at the UCS is this innovation to move towards better systems. For example, UC Berkeley, they're using some excited alternatives, for example, using deposits systems for, to go cups and containers. So say you want to go pick up your morning cup of coffee at your favorite coffee shop. Instead of getting it in a paper cup, that's lined with plastic and a plastic lid you'll instead get a raise reusable to go cup, which you can use. You can take it to go take it to, and later on in the day, you can drop it off at any of the other coffee shops in the city that are participating and they will clean it for you though, sanitize it for you. And then the next time you go pick up a cup of coffee, you can get another reusable container. So that's one great example. UC Riverside also has a great container deposit system where instead of getting your food and the plastic to go container, you'll get it in a reusable container, which you can later on, just drop off at a vending machine. That'll wash it and sanitize it again. And so it's kind of a deposit system Speaker 1: 33:14 And are UC researchers working on alternatives to plastic, uh, that would make it easier perhaps for the legislature and future to vote against plastic Speaker 10: 33:22 UC San Diego. Actually, our very own is a great example of having some professors working on alternative materials. So they actually have a group going with professor Burkhart, Mayfield and Pomeroy working, um, to use algae oil, to develop alternative materials, for example, algae based, flip flops and flip flops that are usually made from byproducts of fossil fuel and plastics, um, that contribute to a lot of pollution and they're making it from algae that's biodegradable. Um, so that's one really great example, but then if you actually take all the researchers across all 10 UC campuses, we're not limited to the amount of solutions that we can come up with. Speaker 1: 34:07 We've been speaking with Veronica Michaels, who is UCF student organizer for the California public research interest group. Veronica, thanks so much for being with us. Speaker 10: 34:17 Thank you so much. Have a nice day. Speaker 1: 34:35 You're listening to KPBS midday edition. I'm Alison st. John, along with Mark Sauer, the first ever San Diego design week kicks off tomorrow a five day event to celebrate San Diego's diverse design community. The event is designed to generate a community conversation about how design affects our way of life with workshops and exhibitions, featuring architects, interior designers, landscape designers, fashion designers, and more it's presented by the Mingei international museum and a team of community partners from all kinds of design disciplines. Joining us to fill us in on the plan for design week is Stacy Kelly, who is special projects manager with Mingei international museum and design week program director, Stacy, thanks for being with us. Thank you for having us and also Felicia Smith, who is co-creator of an exhibit about social justice with self care. Felicia, welcome to the show. Thank you for having us. So Stacy, let me just ask you first, would you say that the one goal of this event is to make us rethink what design is? Speaker 11: 35:38 It is, this is a really interesting opportunity with design weeks. The idea is really to bring the public into the conversation and show how design is shaping our region in a lot of different ways. So this year's theme is design class, which talks about how design shapes all these various aspects of our community, whether it's sustainability, the built environment, um, how design really builds and serves our neighborhoods. And so I think, um, really in addition to talking about what design's role is in our everyday life, the other aspect is really looking at the situation that we're finding ourselves in and looking at designs potential to inspire change and innovation as we envision it a path forward, Speaker 1: 36:25 You're an event designer. And do you find that people sometimes don't really quite know what Speaker 11: 36:31 That job is? They don't. And they always assume that I come in and I bring everyone together. I start from the beginning and I coordinate people, but I don't. I just come in from the perspective of you think, you know exactly what you want as the client and you have some ideas and I come in and pull it all together for you. And to give you exactly what you wanted. You thought you wanted a desire Speaker 1: 36:59 In some ways, that's a good example of how we need to stretch our minds to understand this word design and Stacy. I was wondering if in some ways you're looking to build out a sort of San Diego brand of design with this design Speaker 11: 37:14 Week, we're really looking to highlight San Diego as a unique design community design weeks happen in cities all over the world. So with Mingei international museum, bringing San Diego design week to San Diego, it was really an opportunity for us to look at what really defines San Diego. And obviously one large element of that is the cross border exchange. Um, and the opportunity that we have for that, we also have just so many unique aspects that are inherent to San Diego. So we really created this diverse group of designers. As we started design week to reach out to all of the various communities, we really wanted to include as many voices as possible to really create that very unique San Diego design representation. Speaker 1: 38:02 I noticed that the website for the event is designed in both English and Spanish. Talk to me a little bit about how this event is, is helping people be more inclusive, make the design community more inclusive. Speaker 11: 38:13 Yeah. So for me, for what I did with my piece, I reached out to different areas to different cultures, just to bring us together, to get a voice that were all our different voices in unity. So we all have struggles together. We all have creativities together. We all come from an art perspective. That's very together. It seems different at times, but it's not, we all want to say something. Art brings us all together in that way that we can have our voice in and we can paint and design and decorate it's similar. And so I think different cultures come together in that way because art is universal. It just speaks to whatever language we're trying to put out. Speaker 1: 38:59 No, your your event during design week is walking people through a virtual experience. That sounds interesting. Talk to me how you're going to do that Speaker 11: 39:07 At first. I didn't know how I was going to do that because it does sound a little difficult to do, but what I decided to do is to take my art piece and constructed and, and presented in a way that someone is firsthand experience. So I, I wanted to, and I'm walking someone through the exhibit itself versus just showing the exhibit exhibit. We walked through it literally. Speaker 1: 39:35 And your exhibit is of an event. Speaker 11: 39:37 It is of what's happening in the world today. I decided to take what I normally do and use some pieces that I will use in an event space and take that and design it according to a social circumstances that have been going on for years, but that are speaking to us loudly today. Speaker 1: 40:01 What do you hope people take away from the experience? Speaker 11: 40:03 Some thought, do some self reflection, some change, some inner reflection of who they are and what they stand for some things to remember what we're doing. Um, I'm hoping that people will walk away looking at our environment differently. Um, I'm hoping to invoke conversations. I'm hoping to remind people that we are part of that change and we can do this change. Speaker 1: 40:36 Interesting. So it's almost like redesigning experience. Yeah. Speaker 11: 40:40 Yes. So I think the, the other piece that I want someone to take away is, and to know this, that I didn't think what perspective my designed with come from. How, how did designing play into an art world without just being the I'm a painter, I'm a, I'm a builder, et cetera. And so I thought, how, how can I use my voice? And so I hope that someone walks away and think, no matter how you design, no matter which way that you, you look at yourself as a creative, that you can create something that speaks to the world and that this speaks to social injustices, you can create in a way that invokes thought and that speaks for other people. So I hope people walk away with just a variety of, of conversations and thoughts on this. And I, and I hope that the next creative will see that they can create what they have, who they are in their unique way. Yes. Stacy, Speaker 1: 41:44 Give us a sense, an overview of some of the programs they're not all virtual, are they, some of them are. Speaker 11: 41:51 We shifted to this online format and we did that in a few different ways. Um, like Felicia's event, there's a lot of different, um, features that can be visited on the website. There's online talks, there's online workshops, virtual studio tours, but then there's also self guided tours which designers have put together. And those are an opportunity for people to get out in the city and explore design in person on their own safely. So it is kind of a hybrid situation where we wanted to make sure that everyone had an opportunity to really get out in the region and explore design, but in a way that was safely and it avoided the large gatherings. Speaker 1: 42:35 There are so many events during this design week. How would you recommend someone who's interested, decides what to register? Speaker 11: 42:41 There really are so many, there's, there's over a hundred events and features, and it's been so fascinating seeing how all of the various presenters have approached this new format that we're working in. And like Felicia have been so creative in the way that they've shared work and shared conversation. There is, if you go to the programs page of SD design week.org, you can find a filter. And that filter allows you to search by design, discipline, search by design category. And that can really help you design your own design week experience and really kind of create your own way of, um, exploring the content. So that's, that's a really good start. You can also scroll down the page and you can see the events that are occurring every day, and then below that there's also, um, different categories such as if you're looking for podcasts or film screenings. So it's really, it really is truly impressive. I know when Mingei international museum and the team really embarked on this, we never expected to have such an amazing representation this first year with all that's going on in the world. So it's really inspiring Speaker 1: 43:49 Design week.org. That is the key website. And I'd like to thank you, Stacy Kelly for speaking with us. Speaker 11: 43:56 Thank you. Thank you for having us. Speaker 1: 43:58 Stacy is the program director of design week and Felicia Smith, who is co-creator of an exhibit about social justice with self care. Thank you so much, Speaker 11: 44:06 Felicia. Thank you. And thank you. Is my pleasure for being here.

The Valley Fire has burned thousands of acres and destroyed about a dozen homes as new evacuations have been ordered in eastern San Diego County. Also, San Diego State University is reporting hundreds of COVID-19 infections since August 24 and UC students and faculty are protesting the university’s plan to reopen its campus, local scientists are calling out the FDA commissioner saying he ‘cherry picked’ COVID-19 plasma data, the University of California has taken the lead on phasing out single-use plastics, and a guide to San Diego's first design week.