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LATEST UPDATES: Tracking COVID-19 | Vaccines | Racial Justice

Why You Should Stay Home On New Year’s Eve

Cover image for podcast episode

Photo by Jacob Aere

Above: Medical staff administer COVID-19 swab tests at the drive-through Aquatica San Diego testing location, Dec. 8, 2020.

Epidemiologist Dr. Rebecca Fielding-Miller joined Midday Edition Wednesday to discuss the risks of attending in-person New Year's celebrations. Plus, Dr. Shirley Weber talks about her nomination as California Secretary of State and hopes for her successor. And even when its budgets are cut, SDPD has a track record of overspending. Then, San Diego Unified School District's Police Department is more likely to detain Black students than others on campuses. And the economic situation for San Diego's undocumented population remains desperate during the pandemic. Then, a social network called Stitch has filled a void for people who normally led active lives but have had to stay put because of the coronavirus. Finally, the coronavirus pandemic forced Derby United Headquarters to close. But the organization has turned their skates in a new direction in order to reopen its two-rink facility.

Speaker 1: 00:00 If you're planning a new year's Eve party health officials say don't,

Speaker 2: 00:05 There's no way to, to test your way to a safe new year's.

Speaker 1: 00:09 I'm wearing Kavanaugh with Jade Heinemann. This is KPBS midday edition, San Diego state assembly woman, Shirley Weber talks about her new appointment as secretary of state.

Speaker 3: 00:30 I think it's always important that we prioritize the concept of voting and the integrity of our voting system.

Speaker 1: 00:38 I look back at the calls this year to trim San Diego's police budget and the social media platforms that are helping San Diego seniors stay in touch that's ahead. On mid day

Speaker 1: 01:00 It's official state leaders said Tuesday, the Corona virus stay at home order for Southern California will be in effect into the new year, but we may need extra vigilance even at home. If new year's Eve brings the typical parties and celebrations, the fear is new. Year's get togethers may produce the surge over the surge over the surge as described by governor Gavin Newsome and swamp, California hospitals. Joining me is Dr. Rebecca fielding Miller assistant professor in the Herbert Wertheim school of public health at UC San Diego and the division of infectious disease and global public health. Dr. Fielding Miller. Welcome.

Speaker 2: 01:40 Thank you so much for having me

Speaker 1: 01:41 Now, new year's Eve parties are described in a CNN article today as a COVID 19 dream. Why would that be the case?

Speaker 2: 01:52 You know, there's a lot of things that are going on for new years. Um, for one thing, they're in this perfect window to sort of reinfect a whole new cadre of people after those who were potentially infected from Christmas. Um, we also want to hug and kiss people on new year's. We want to drink, um, and eat and we'll be taking our masks down to drink. And even if we're being very careful, alcohol can make us a little bit less careful than we might mean to. So it's a confluence of a lot of things that make it a very dangerous evening.

Speaker 1: 02:25 Can you explain what the governor meant when he said we're in danger of seeing a surge over a surge over a surge?

Speaker 2: 02:32 Yeah. So a lot of us who have been thinking about COVID for a while, which is like 11 months at this point, um, have been really worried about what the holiday season is going to look like. And that's why you've heard a lot of us kind of waving our arms around about where the base numbers were from the summer. So what's happened is people have gone. And even if they were careful, um, they have celebrated Thanksgiving with family. So they've been in close quarters with no masks with family and loved ones, and that has brought our numbers up quite high, as we've seen. And then a lot of folks went and did the same thing for the Christmas holiday. And again, there's a lot of eating being in close quarters, hugging being with people. We love those really natural behaviors. And so we haven't even really begun to see the effects of Christmas yet. Um, people who were infected are probably just starting to feel crummy and test positive. And so what is very likely to happen as people who were celebrating on Christmas are now going to go be asymptomatic, celebrate with potentially different people than they were with at Christmas. And in fact, a whole new, um, group of people. So you have sort of an infection seating over the Christmas holidays and then going out into a whole bunch of new clusters of people for new years.

Speaker 1: 03:52 What if you go and get a COVID, uh, test and it comes out negative, are you okay then to go to some sort of party?

Speaker 2: 04:02 That would be great, but unfortunately not. So COVID tests are most accurate between five and eight days after you are exposed or infected. So even if you go, you get the fastest test possible, um, you get a test like five minutes before that new year's party. You haven't seen anybody since Christmas, you could still be infected and get a negative test. The window is just too short for accurate testing. There's literally no way to know. Um, so there's no way to test your way to a safe new year's.

Speaker 1: 04:36 And if this feared surge does happen, if California hospitals become overwhelmed by an influx of COVID patients in January, how do you think that will affect the death rate from the disease?

Speaker 2: 04:49 I mean, this is the thing that we've been trying to avoid this whole time. When we've been saying flatten the curve, it was never about we're going to eradicate COVID. It was about we're going to have a functioning health system. And that's the thing that we are losing right now. And so our healthcare providers, nurses, doctors, support staff has been working so hard for so long. And when you overwhelm hospitals, when you overwhelm ICU, it's not just about equipment, it's about staff. And so when you are calling up, um, people who maybe don't have ICU experience, they're experts in other things, but they're doing their best to pitch in. You are not getting the care of a well rested expert who has time to look and think and, um, perform at their absolute peak. You have an exhausted overstretched person and you have too few of them.

Speaker 2: 05:43 So you have this overstretching of staff, you have this lack of, um, stuff. Um, you have a lack of ventilators, you have a lack of beds and you just have a lack of space. And my biggest concern is that we're going to get to a place where we start actually having to think about triaging and rationing care, which is never a thing, um, that we really have to think about in the U S if we are wealthy and have health insurance. Um, and so there's going to be a moment potentially when doctors and nurses and providers have to start thinking about who do I treat first, uh, the elderly grandmother who just wanted to see her kids for Thanksgiving or the 25 year old teacher who just wanted to see their friends for new years. And that is the bad thing to have to be thinking about, but it could come.

Speaker 1: 06:31 So what you're saying, and other health experts are saying as well, is that typical new year's Eve parties could, could become super spreader events, but is there any way for people to celebrate it? If for instance, is it safe for people to people to celebrate outdoors?

Speaker 2: 06:50 It is safer to celebrate outdoors. Certainly. Um, you can think about at risk spectrum, right? If you absolutely must be with friends or family, and I would genuinely beg you not to, but if you absolutely must, please go outside, please wear a mask, please be at least six feet apart from one another at all times. But just to remember that that's really hard to maintain. We're, we're human we're people. It's hard to stay six feet apart the whole time, again, especially if champagne is involved or anything else. Um, but outside is safer. Mask is safer. Fewer people is safer.

Speaker 1: 07:27 So are there alternatives, uh, for folks besides staying home and watching Anderson Cooper drink champagne at me?

Speaker 2: 07:36 Um, you know, there's a lot of things that you can do. There's the, the zoom classic at this point, if you are sick of a screen, um, maybe think of a way that you can see this year out on your own, that feels cathartic, maybe write down all the things that you hate about 2020, set them on fire and put them in the sink. Maybe that's what I'll be doing.

Speaker 1: 07:55 I was going to ask you, I was going to ask you, how will you be celebrating this year?

Speaker 2: 08:01 Yeah, I'll, we'll probably, I might be setting something on fire and, and putting it in the sink very safely. Um, with my husband, I will be celebrating at home. Um, we might have a glass of champagne or something else to bring out the new year and hope for a good, um, 20, 21.

Speaker 1: 08:19 I think we all do. Thank you so much, Dr. Rebecca fielding Miller for talking to me about this, and however you celebrate safely, I hope you have a happy new year. Thank you. You too.

Speaker 4: 08:40 She's known for creating legislation around social justice, police reform and education across California assembly woman, Shirley Weber, who's represented the 79th assembly district since 2012 has been nominated by governor Gavin Newsome to succeed Alex Padilla as California secretary of state. She'll be the first African-American to serve in the position. Joining me is assembly woman, Shirley Weber, assembly, woman Weber. Welcome and congratulations to you.

Speaker 5: 09:08 Well, thank you. Thank you for having me on the program.

Speaker 4: 09:10 What was your reaction when governor Newsome announced you as his choice for California secretary of state? It was certainly a surprise to many California politicians.

Speaker 5: 09:19 Well, yes, it was. I mean, I, um, um, I had learned about it a little before the announcement was made, but I knew that they were considering several individuals and, you know, never had on my radar as a, as in terms of personal goals and objectives to be the secretary of state. I mean, I I've always worked with them and, and respect that the work they do and, and I've always been an advocate for voting rights and those kinds of things. And, and I've authored a number of bills to fight for that, for those who at least, um, at least able to fight for it themselves. And so I was, I was honored. I was, uh, you know, I knew it was coming so I wasn't surprised, but I, but I was honored that even I was in the consideration for those, because there were, I understand so many others, I don't know who they were, but, uh, who were in consideration for this particular position. So I was really on it that he thought that the work I had done and the life that I had lived in terms of my values and those kinds of things were in line with, uh, what California needs at this time.

Speaker 4: 10:16 And what do you plan on prioritizing as California's secretary of state?

Speaker 5: 10:20 Well, you know, I think it's always important that we prioritize the, the concept of voting and the integrity of our voting system. You know, this has been a really unusual season for us in terms of voting and having such a tax on our voting system. I mean, in all of my life, I have never seen such anxiety around voting and the fact that people were attacking whether or not our voting system had some sense of integrity and fairness, uh, I've traveled around the world and I've been in places where they had, um, a voting taking place. And I, I, and I can understand the anxiety of the other countries that they have, but I'd never seen that in this country. And I didn't think of my lifetime I ever would. And so I think number one has to be that we continue to do the kind of transparent work to make sure people feel comfortable with voting.

Speaker 5: 11:07 That we're, that we, uh, that we expand out the rights of individuals who vote and we protect people's right to vote, who have, who, whoever registered to vote and making it accessible, uh, for people to do. We saw record turnouts and voting business this year across the nation. And, uh, and it's because people finally believing in the system. So I think we have to continue to push that issue because it's so very important. Uh, in the past, we've had kind of a ho-hum attitude when election day comes and we, it's almost like we hoping someone will show up to vote and, uh, the enthusiasm about voting the commitment that people made to make a plan to vote, to being willing to stand in lines across the country, uh, is just, uh, it's heartwarming to me when I see that, because we've not seen that before. And that is so very important, uh, in terms of our democracy,

Speaker 4: 11:55 I wanted to ask, how does the role of secretary of state touch on the work you were doing to pass legislation around police reform education and even reparations?

Speaker 5: 12:06 It's interesting because when I first went to the legislature, the first bills I did actually were around voting and, um, were around making sure that, uh, those who were, who were uninformed, we got, uh, got a chance to vote. Uh, those who have committed felonies that they had, they knew they had a right to vote. And so my early bills were really grappling with those particular issues because those issues become fundamental, uh, to the, the rights individuals have the ability to express themselves and to make decisions about what they want. And one of the things I've learned as an elected official is that when you have the public engaged in and fighting for their rights, it makes it a whole lot easier to pass legislations that produce a fairness and equality and justice for everyone. So I've always seen voting as a voting and education, really those two things or things that my parents pushed upon us very clearly that, you know, you get an education because no one can take it from you and it's yours to hold.

Speaker 5: 13:01 And it opens doors. But also my parents were, were voters and, and we had voting in our homes. We had a voting poll at our house, uh, because they felt like no matter what you get in this life, if you can't express your right to hold onto it, and those who make laws about your life, then you could lose it just as quickly as you gained it. And so my father, my parents knew that from voting. So when I look at voting, it becomes like education of bedrock for everything that we want to do. So if I'm talking reparations, it has to be an educated population. It has to be a group of people who have the right to vote, to vote for, for the benefits that people think that should come from reparations. If it's talking about police reform and people in the streets complaining about we need greater police reform, and when do we need to get rid of some of the abuses there, it is really the voters that keep us there. You know, I do this, this legislation, uh, around, uh, social justice issues. And it's really my constituents who kept me in office because if they didn't believe in what I was doing and not, and, and, and weren't willing to go to the polls, reelect me, then I'm going to say, I would have been a sitting duck for a law enforcement and all other agencies. And so, so it becomes important that we recognize that, that voting that power to vote really determines who represents us. It determines the issues that we were

Speaker 4: 14:14 Given, all of the ongoing work that you've started in the 79th assembly district and the state of California. What are your hopes for who fills that seat next?

Speaker 5: 14:23 Well, my hope is that they will, they will understand, and, and this much conversation about it. And of course my daughter's thrown her hat in the ring to understand that this is essential work, that no one person can do it all. And I think that's what some folks say, Oh my God, she's leaving us a, I won't leave you. I'm still there. I'm just across the street from the Capitol. But, but, but it's work that we, that we began and we will continue to do. And it, and it's constant work. It's not that one person who has, you know, a maximum of 12 years could actually change all of California. But what I try to do in my time that was there was to open the, the light of opportunities so that people could say, so for so many years, Oh, you can never do anything.

Speaker 5: 15:03 You can't change the law enforcement. You can't get this real pass. You can't do this, you can't do that. And I wanted people to know that with hard work and perseverance and working with community groups, you can make a difference. And so what I'm seeing now in the conversation of those who talk about the 79, they're like, okay, who's going to continue. Shirley's work. Who's going to fill those big shoes. Who's going to be our voice for us. And that's what I want people to understand, because when you get accustomed to not having representation, that gives you a voice that opens doors that stands tall, that fights for you. When you, when you get accustomed to that, you have low expectations. I wanted to give people high expectations. And I think we did it in, in, in, in my so far eight years in the legislature that I gave him high expectations. I, I didn't believe that there was a mountain we could not take. And if we took the mountain and run successful, we at least open up additional opportunities that people could see to do it. And so what I'm hearing now on the floor of, with my colleagues is that many of them now are taking up the new challenge.

Speaker 4: 16:00 As you mentioned, your daughter, Dr. Akilah Weber has decided to throw her hat in the ring. What are your thoughts on that?

Speaker 5: 16:07 Well, you know, as a parent, you become proud when you think that your children think enough of the work you've done, uh, to want to be involved in it. And I told someone, I, I initially that I thought, wow, she's been close enough to the fire. Didn't know that it burns sometimes, but, um, but she has always had a passion for, uh, for, um, for trying to make a difference. And even in her practice and medicine and the things that she sees, she, when she sees injustices and she sees inequalities, she wants to, she wants to address them. And, and I could be the, you know, I, I almost can't say anything because, uh, I can't say, Oh, don't do that. You know, it's too costly because why mom did it? You know? And, um, and so I'm very proud of the fact that she has taken the challenge in Lamesa as a city council person. And now wants to take the challenge in Sacramento, uh, to kind of carry on the legacy, but also to develop her own legacy.

Speaker 4: 16:54 In speaking with assembly woman, Shirley Webber, governor Newsome spit for secretary of state assembly, woman Weber. Thank you so much for joining us.

Speaker 5: 17:02 Thank you for the invitation. And you'll all be safe. Be safe as a new year comes.

Speaker 1: 17:11 This is KPBS midday edition. I'm wearing Kavanaugh with Jade Heinemann San Diego's police budget has been under the microscope lately since the nationwide wave of protests against police violence. Activists have been calling on city leaders to cut the police budget and give more money to libraries, parks, and mental health services. But as KPBS Metro reporter, Andrew Bowen explains even when its budgets are cut. SDPD has a track record of overspending

Speaker 4: 17:44 On May 31st thousands of San Diegans gathered in downtown San Diego to protest the killing of

Speaker 6: 17:50 George Floyd by Minneapolis police officer [inaudible] that afternoon and evening police declared an unlawful assembly and used tear gas, stun, grenades, and pepper balls to disperse. The crowds protestors said that escalated and otherwise peaceful demonstration while police say it was necessary to secure the area either way. It was an expensive day for city taxpayers in the following days and weeks, police racked up more than 100,000 hours of overtime responding to protests by mid June, SDPD had blown past its overtime budget by more than $11 million. And the overspending is not a fluke, a KPBS review of city budgets and financial reports found SDPD has spent beyond its overtime budget in all of the past 10 fiscal years together. The decade of overspending totals, more than $61 million.

Speaker 7: 18:45 Our office has raised concerns with police overtime, exceeding budgeted levels. Quite consistently.

Speaker 6: 18:52 Patel is a fiscal and policy analyst with the independent budget analyst office.

Speaker 7: 18:56 All departments have a responsibility to spend within their budget. Um, including the police department, police department is a little unique because especially the use of overtime, uh, if there's an emergency or a public safety issue that needs to be addressed, typically that's done through overtime.

Speaker 6: 19:14 Overtime pay is also mandatory. Officers are guaranteed overtime when they work on holidays, for example, or have to appear in court. But the biggest portion of the police overtime budget is discretionary. When police captains allow officers to work beyond their regular eight hours,

Speaker 8: 19:31 We have to be honest about where the desire for policing comes from

Speaker 6: 19:34 Kira green is executive director of the progressive think tank center on policy initiatives. Police have justified extending shifts into overtime by saying, the department is understaffed green disagrees and says the use of overtime reflects the over-policing of some San Diego neighborhoods.

Speaker 8: 19:51 It's always the case that policing is racialized. Um, and so as this city has become more people of color we've. Now we've heard a call for more policing and that's not going to solve our problems. It's actually is our problem.

Speaker 6: 20:05 Green says SDPD is consistent. Overspending on overtime could mean one of two things, either all the mayors and police chiefs over the past decade have been really bad at predicting how much the department would need to spend on overtime.

Speaker 8: 20:18 Or what we think is more true is that this is an intentional decision not to be upfront about the cost that we're putting into policing and to do at the front end of the budget cuts and all kinds of programs under the argument that there's not enough money. And then on the back end of the budget to put that money back into police,

Speaker 6: 20:34 SDPD declined our request for an interview and refuse to respond to written questions about overtime spending council, president Georgette Gomez says the police budget does need more scrutiny to that end. She and council member Monica Montgomery commissioned a deep dive report into police spending. So the council can find areas to cut responsibly.

Speaker 9: 20:54 So when we are having the budget discussion and the budget allocations, we can actually make decisions based on that information. Versus when we're in, in the official budget hearings, it makes it hard because a lot of the information is coming at us very, very quickly, but also at times, very late,

Speaker 6: 21:13 Despite a flood of calls to cut the police budget council members last month approved mayor Kevin Faulkner's proposal to increase it by about 5% to $566 million. The police overtime budget also went up to about 34 million, but in an effort to crack down on overspending, the council is also requiring SDPD to provide a detailed account of overtime use. As soon as half of the budget is exhausted. The deep dive report on SDPD budget is expected sometime in the late summer or fall. Andrew Bowen, KPBS news. This story first aired on KPBS earlier this year,

Speaker 10: 21:58 San Diego unified school district police department has arrested or detained more than 9,000 youth since 2007 KPBS education reporter Joe Hong dug into the data and found that black youth were disproportionately criminalized on campuses.

Speaker 9: 22:15 It's just the way life is. I mean, growing up as a black person, you understand that that's just how society works. I mean, it's a shame though.

Speaker 11: 22:22 Layla Williams graduated last month from San Diego high school where she was the president of the black student union. She spent her high school career fostering conversation among teachers and students about racism on our campus. She saw this as progress for her school, but she said she also saw an increased presence of police during her time at San Diego high. And she had persistent feeling that campus police officers targeted black students

Speaker 9: 22:44 Coming onto campus. You know, you want your school to be a trusting, safe place. You want to be your, you know, your staff has faith in you trust in you, you know, but when you're coming on to campus and the first thing you see is a security guard or police officer they're, you know, glaring you, you're just kinda like, well, dang does my school even trust me,

Speaker 11: 23:01 Unified is one of the few districts in California that has its own police department. It currently has 37 sworn officers, patrolling campuses and the surrounding streets, a KPBS analysis of arrests and detentions by San Diego unified police over a roughly 12 year period shows that depending on the school year, black youth were more than four times as likely to be arrested than their white counterparts. The data also showed that black youth were more likely than white youth to be arrested for serious crimes like battery and possession of a deadly weapon. Meanwhile, the data show white youth are more likely to be detained for reasons related to mental illness rather than rested for a crime compared to black youth.

Speaker 9: 23:36 It shouldn't surprise us that we see these, see these same biases within the microcosm, which is the school day.

Speaker 11: 23:43 Roger Colvin is a professor in the school, public affairs at San Diego state university. He said the racial disparities in the San Diego unified arrest data mirror those in police departments nationwide

Speaker 12: 23:53 Black boys have a particularly tough time because there is the, um, often the notion that they, uh, require, uh, extra punishment or harsher punishment. Um, there's data that, uh, talks about, or, um, suggest that, uh, young black boys are often thought to be older than they actually are.

Speaker 11: 24:15 These facts along with the nationwide push for racial justice in the wake of the killing of George Floyd at the hand of Minneapolis, police officers have led Williams and other students to call for the defunding of San Diego unified police. They organized the protest scheduled for today. So not how it goes. There's also a recent graduate of San Diego unified,

Speaker 12: 24:33 Like the system was created to pass us. And when we talk about defunding the school police, um, there's no, there's no saving assistant. There is no altering assistance system that was never created.

Speaker 11: 24:45 The districts police department's budget is currently about $9 million, less than 1% of the overall district budget officials say defunding, the department would make campuses less safe for students. They added that the savings wouldn't be enough for a significant increase in resources for counseling and mental health services. San Diego unified police, chief Michael Marquez pointing to a more than 50% drop in arrests over the past decade as evidence that campus police are making an effort to decriminalize campus

Speaker 12: 25:13 Because our kids should get the best service that we can provide them. And, and so I'm always looking for people that have, you know, coaching experience working with youth or pastors, uh, working with youth. And there are times where our vacancies will remain vacant until we can find the right person to work in those environments,

Speaker 11: 25:33 Unified board, vice president, Richard Barrera said he supports the spirit of the student activism and agrees that policing needs to change in the district, but he does not want to see the department that funded.

Speaker 12: 25:44 I can guarantee that the process that we go through in our districts is not a process that's intended to delay change. It's a process it's intended to make sure that the change is the right change

Speaker 11: 25:58 Barrera and other officials had campus. Police play a pivotal role in ensuring students' safety in cases of human trafficking, school shootings and unsafe home environments. He said the district will not make any final decisions about the police budget without a robust survey of its community members. Joe Hong KPBS news

Speaker 1: 26:22 In April, governor Gavin Newsome announced a plan to send one-time payments to thousands of undocumented people across California. Now, with those payments mostly sent and spent KPBS reporter max Revlon Nadler tells us the economic situation for San Diego's undocumented population remains desperate. A note to our listeners. We're only using

Speaker 9: 26:44 First names to protect identities of undocumented people.

Speaker 13: 26:48 North park resident, Luis are immigrated here from Mexico. He'd worked at the same restaurant as line cook for six years. He was fired in March as the restaurants shut down because of the Corona virus pandemic.

Speaker 12: 27:01 Obviously for my situations, I kinda hard to find a job. I just know, like to jump and jump in the job. So I was there for about six years and they just let me go by email.

Speaker 13: 27:13 It has always paid taxes, but undocumented people are ineligible for unemployment benefits and his husband, an American citizen didn't get the stimulus check either. That's because they file taxes. Jointly. Luis began looking into relief funds for those laid off from the food industry, but to no avail. Then the state said it would be giving between 500 and a thousand dollars to some undocumented people.

Speaker 12: 27:36 I was like checking the news all the time when it's going to be there. When it's going to be days when it's going to be his, because I want to like have a little bit of money. You know,

Speaker 13: 27:44 Non-profit Jewish family service of San Diego distributes the payments in the form of prepaid debit cards. They go to undocumented people impacted by the pandemic in San Diego and Imperial counties were around 7% of the state's undocumented population lives. The program began in may, immediately service providers across the state were inundated with calls. By the end of June Jewish family service had distributed $5 million in funds to 10,000 undocumented people in the region. Luis was one of them after waiting almost a month for it to arrive, he received a prepaid debit card for $500. His first type of assistance in three months

Speaker 12: 28:22 For buying groceries like Costco, Walmart, or the store just basically was for food as food, food, food

Speaker 13: 28:29 Restaurant worker, and immigrant Rosalba was also laid off during the pandemic like Luis she's been paying taxes while she's been working in the United States for the past 18 years.

Speaker 9: 28:41 She said, okay,

Speaker 13: 28:42 It made her feel sad because there are community of workers who support this country with their taxes, but they don't have the same rights as citizens. They don't have the opportunity to take account of their contributions and that frustrated her. It made her angry because she contributes to this country,

Speaker 9: 29:01 Resolve. It

Speaker 13: 29:01 Ended up getting a thousand dollars from the state through its emergency fund. It helped her pay her cell phone bills and buy cleaning supplies to stay safe during the pandemic. But it wasn't nearly enough to make up for her lost income. She was making $500 a week before the pandemic, and now her family is back in the same situation. They were

Speaker 9: 29:24 [inaudible].

Speaker 13: 29:25 It's fun, helped over a hundred thousand undocumented people. The problems facing the States, 2 million undocumented people remain.

Speaker 9: 29:31 The demand was huge. You know, the state's fund, our fund only have the sort of potential to hit a couple of hundred thousand people. So we knew the gap was going to be pretty large. Uh, and the goal was to essentially try to stop the bleeding for some number of families.

Speaker 13: 29:45 Kevin Douglas works for Grantmakers concerned with immigrants and refugees. The organization supplemented the state government's response with private donations to reach as many undocumented people as possible. During the early days of the pandemic,

Speaker 9: 29:58 Direct relief was an important and necessary first step, but it was just that it was a first step. There's a lot of systemic issues underlying, uh, the disparate impact of COVID on communities and who was impacted that really speaks to the need for sort of broader systemic change.

Speaker 13: 30:12 Dr. Kira green of the center on policy initiatives says without assistance, undocumented people were returned to unsafe working conditions and get exposed to COVID-19.

Speaker 9: 30:22 It should be clear that we're not doing anything except increasing our negative health risk for all of us. We're seeing outbreaks of COVID and fields and other places where we know we forced undocumented folks back to work when we don't provide protections for them.

Speaker 13: 30:38 Because with many businesses unable to reopen because of rising numbers of Corona virus cases, the situation for San Diego's undocumented population without jobs or government assistance remains perilous. Max Roven Adler KPBS news

Speaker 10: 31:04 Loneliness among elderly people who are in poor health and live alone has only worsened during the pandemic. But what about seniors whose lives were once packed with travel hobbies and meetups with friends, KPBS is a meta Sharma spoke to one San Diego woman who uses an online social community to ward off isolation. As health experts continue to urge seniors to stay put amid the coronavirus crisis.

Speaker 9: 31:30 I rented an Airbnb and a trip to Cuba. Another one I met up with on a trip to Bali

Speaker 10: 31:38 That's 60 year old, Kimberly who didn't want her last name used talking about life. Pre pandemic

Speaker 9: 31:45 Discussion groups ranging from everything from movies, arts, sciences, current events,

Speaker 10: 31:53 Wellness COVID-19 hasn't slowed her down,

Speaker 9: 31:56 Visited Hawaii a Saturday afternoon. I was join to get together with folks with a standup comedian and a commentary did some meet and greets and almost went to visit a haunted mine in Australia.

Speaker 10: 32:11 All of this of course was done virtually, but before the Corona virus, Kimberly globe trotted and chatted with people, belonging to stitch in online group billed as the world's largest companionship community. It's where people meet to find others to join them at what they love like attending the opera, birdwatching hiking, talking about current issues.

Speaker 9: 32:33 First founded stage. Our original goal was to get people to form positive and emerging social connections. And there can be a range of different connections. And our philosophy was actually to get people offline, get out there in the real world and make around the things I like to do

Speaker 10: 32:48 With a master's degree in social enterprise. Andrew Dowling started stitch in 2014 in Australia for people 50 and over after another business he launched, which provided tablet, computers to seniors, opened his eyes to the risk of isolation. As people age, he realized how human ties formed through school work and parenting fade. As children leave the nest and retirement looms.

Speaker 9: 33:15 You have these pressures that are constantly make our social circles shrink as we get older too. And so we found more and more. These our people we were working with were saying, you know, I'm actually like this thing you're doing is great, but can you help me make new friends? Like I'm actually quite lonely.

Speaker 10: 33:31 See gerontology professor Donna Benton says it's not uncommon for someone to wake up one day and realize their peer group has dwindled. Rather suddenly

Speaker 9: 33:41 We may have actually lost them completely to death. So if that happens, your network is smaller and it's that much more difficult to develop new networks,

Speaker 10: 33:52 Dowling, quote studies that say loneliness, especially among older people can cause inflammation, dementia and reduce someone's overall immunity to disease.

Speaker 9: 34:01 We understood that. We thought, well, surely there's a role that we could use today's technology in a way that actually creates positive outcomes for people rather than what you normally see on the internet is, you know, trolls and arguments and all that sort of stuff,

Speaker 10: 34:16 Because COVID-19 has made this ditch platform even more vital for older people.

Speaker 9: 34:20 It's a terrible world. We're living through in many cases for many reasons, but there are some kind of silver linings in there. And, uh, and we're hoping to say, well, let's seize on the silver linings and turn them into as, as much of a, a bright sunshine that we can is the San Diego stitch.

Speaker 10: 34:37 That's been the case for Kimberly. When the pandemic first hit, she says she grew sad and confused and could have gotten lost binge-watching on the sofa, but stitch helped her get out of that potential rut

Speaker 9: 34:50 Kind of ironic because I'm participating in more events during the isolation period than I ever did before. This is my video meeting today.

Speaker 10: 35:01 Kimberly says the fact that the platform is worldwide means someone somewhere is always available to do things with.

Speaker 9: 35:09 So I can have coffee with a group at six 30 in the morning, which I'm doing tomorrow and do things on the weekends. Or if I have some flex time at a lunch hour, I can participate in an activity and do some yoga on the weekends.

Speaker 10: 35:25 Sharma KPBS news.

Speaker 3: 35:36 You are listening. KPBS

Speaker 4: 35:38 Midday edition I'm Jade Hindman Derby United headquarters opened its outdoor two rink facility for roller Derby bouts in San Diego earlier this year. But a week after its grand opening, the coronavirus pandemic forced it to close KPBS are to report or Beth duck. Amando headed over for a skate lesson to see how the organization is pivoting in the pandemic. She spoke at the outdoor rink with Derby United's owner and general manager, nilly Goldfarb, better known by her Derby name is Isabel ringer.

Speaker 14: 36:08 So Isabelle, last time I spoke to you, you were just about to have the grand opening of Derby United, and that was back in March. So what's been happening here.

Speaker 15: 36:19 We did have our grand opening and it was amazing ribbon cutting. Our council member was here. Folks from the planning office were here. We had a huge celebration. Hundreds of folks came out for a roller Derby game. And a week later we closed for the pandemic and we stayed closed for a number of months. Once outdoor recreation was able to open, we started taking a good look at what we do out here and what we could do out here with the space and the resources we have. And that's what led to our reopen and a heavy focus on recreational rollerskate.

Speaker 14: 36:53 Now, originally, this was designed for you to have roller Derby bounds

Speaker 15: 36:58 Facility was specialty designed to roller Derby tracks. We were out here training every night games, almost every weekend. Um, but one of our two rotary tracks is a super smooth concrete pad. That's just perfect for any kind of roller skating. So why let it go to waste? We can't play contact sports. We do some fitness training for roller Derby, but for the most part, it's a team sport we like to play together. So instead we started making a focus on what kind of recreational offerings could we put out there that would engage the community and our skaters and use the beautiful concrete pad that we have.

Speaker 14: 37:38 So what kind of classes or lessons can people take here? Now

Speaker 15: 37:42 We have a wide range of offering from really little kid glasses. We call it little rollers to adults who are opening their very first pair of skates and need to learn to roller skate or more experienced folks who want to learn things like jam and freestyle and dance that can come out and really hone their skills and feel good on their skates.

Speaker 14: 38:02 Now, this was a facility that you put together. It took a lot of work. So what is it like trying to pivot during this pandemic?

Speaker 15: 38:14 I'm not going to lie. It's been really hard. We built this place to have big roller Derby programs. It works on volume and here we are saying, okay, we're going to have 12 people per class in a limited time slot with online reservation. And so we see so many less people per day, we're to host no events. And so it's just a different situation. It's taken a lot of work, um, both with the new safety plan in place and a new financial plan in place to be able to get to the other side of this. We are a tiny business, uh, and we just don't have the resources to be able to not be in business for a year or longer.

Speaker 14: 39:02 Part of what Derby United is about is this sense of kind of empowerment for young girls, especially and for women. And how has that carrying over into kind of this skate lesson and, and you know, more recreational skate,

Speaker 15: 39:17 Just like with Derby. We hope that when people come to this property, they're able to escape whatever's going on in the outside world and just spend some time focusing on themselves on roller skates. It's good for their physical health, their mental health, their emotional health. So we hope that when you come here, you get a break from that outside world. And that when you leave here, you feel ready to take on whatever comes next. We want to be the best part of anybody's.

Speaker 14: 39:43 Okay. And what kind of practices do you have in place to make sure that people stay safe with the pandemic going?

Speaker 15: 39:50 Absolutely. So we put a number of safety protocols in place. We are extremely fortunate to have an outdoor facility. So we are open air to start with. We do still require masks for everyone on the property. All of our activities are taking place six feet or more apart. We limit our class numbers. So even though we have 9,000 square feet of concrete pad, we still only have about 12 people per class, so that there's plenty of room for your own space and that you can feel like you're in a safe place. Even when you need to get a sip of water, we have a safety protocol in place for you to leave the rink area, take your mask off, have your own ventilation and water break, and then put it back on and go back out.

Speaker 14: 40:31 I am going to partake in your class. And you were telling you that you had to search for a instructor for these classes. So who did you find

Speaker 15: 40:42 When we did this pivot to recreational skating, we really wanted to get folks inside that community coming out to instruct not just our folks from Derby. And so we found people from throughout the spectrum of roller skating today's instructor. Kara Lee is a figure skate coach by trade. She's been in ice forever and spent some time in roller. And she got really into roller skating during the pandemic. And a friend said, you know, this woman's fantastic. Why don't you talk to her? And we brought her out here and she was such a great fit for what we're doing. She teaches twice a week, teaches learn and return to skate. So either folks that are opening skates for the first time, or maybe it's been a few decades and they're returning to skate and she just does fantastic with these folks and just gets them, right.

Speaker 14: 41:26 So people should not be afraid to come out here and give this a try. If they either haven't been on skates or it's been, you know,

Speaker 15: 41:34 Like you said, decades, absolutely no skating experiences needed. We have hundreds of pairs of roller skates. So even if you can't get your hands on a pair of roller skates right now, we have some that you can borrow with any class recession that you come here, please bring your own protective gear for beginners. I especially recommend at least wrist and knee pad and we'll teach everything from there. And how has it been going now that you've opened up for a skate lessons? When we started this reopen, we started really slowly. We wanted to make sure that we felt comfortable with the safety level, with the courses we were offering the price point, all of it. And for a few weeks, we tinkered with that. And once we set a schedule, we felt really happy with we just spread the word and we've just seen classes selling out, which has been fantastic.

Speaker 15: 42:18 So we're seeing folks coming to these courses, getting a lot out of it, returning, coming back for open sessions, it's been really great. And you said there's been a kind of a run on skates during the pandemic. There's been a massive revival of roller skating right now. So our good friends at sensity skates who run the specialty, one of the specialty roller skate shops in town, they just fly off the shelves. They get a truckload in and a truckload blows out the door. You can't get your hands on roller skates. People are even scalping them on the internet. And how is this plan working in terms of keeping the business going? Because it's obviously not the same kind of flow of people coming in. So are you going to be able to survive through this?

Speaker 15: 43:01 We are extremely resilient. We will survive through this no matter what. However, this still doesn't touch having hundreds of people for events every weekend. So we have these offerings and that helps, but it also takes a lot of creative, financial planning, a landlord who's willing to be flexible, taking on more debt, a lot of different programs that we're applying to. And we're going to have to piece that whole thing together to make it to the other side of this, but we will, we'll be here. All right. Well, I want to thank you very much. Thank you for being here. I'm so excited to see you. Rollerskate

Speaker 9: 43:36 Derby United headquarters is located on federal Boulevard in Canto. It will reopen for recreational skating on Monday, January 4th.

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KPBS Midday Edition

KPBS Midday Edition is a daily talk show hosted by Maureen Cavanaugh and Jade Hindmon, keeping San Diegans in the know on everything from politics to the arts.