Testing Mix-up In San Diego’s First Coronavirus Case, The Future Of The Del Mar Fairgrounds, Flu Vaccination Lag, ‘Hansel And Gretel,’ Race And Politics, White-Collar Drug Abuse
KPBS Midday Edition / February 11, 2020
Speaker 1: 00:00 The first Corona virus diagnosis in San Diego is clouded with questions and there are talks of big changes at the Del Mar fairgrounds. I'm Jade Hindman. I'm Maureen Kavanaugh. This is Katie DS midday.
Speaker 1: 00:22 It's Tuesday, February 11th. Question surround the first confirmed case of novel coronavirus identified in San Diego. The unidentified patient was released from hospital isolation Sunday after the CDC indicated his test did not show signs of the virus but further investigation show the initial test had been mislabeled and was actually positive for the virus. The patient is now back in hospital isolation. The case came from among the 200 people evacuated from China who are being quarantined at the Marine air station at Miramar. KPBS reporter Matt Hoffman spoke by Skype to some of those quarantined and he's here to tell us about this latest development. And Matt, welcome. Hey Maureen, good to be here. Is anyone at the CDC saying how exactly this mistake happened? Yes, we did get an explanation from a CDC spokesman this morning. Um, basically bear with me here. Um, the initial test result they say was mislabeled and not tested.
Speaker 1: 01:22 Now, this person was brought to UC San Diego medical center in Hillcrest. We know that they're testing all the patients that go are taken to any local hospitals. So, um, the initial test was not tested. It was mislabeled according to the CDC. So they actually had results from a different sample that came back negative, which they thought were this person's. Um, and that's what ended up, um, telling them or telling UC San Diego health to release this person. They were released. They were taken back to the quarantine at MCA as Miramar. And then, um, local officials here did not know that there was anything wrong, but national CDC in Atlanta, they called them and said, Hey, wait a minute, something's wrong here. We, we messed this up. So then that person was immediately isolated in their room, uh, at MCA S Miramar, and then they were taken back to the court, or excuse me, back to the isolation at UC San Diego medical center, Hillcrest.
Speaker 1: 02:08 Is there any chance this patient could have infected others when the patient was removed from hospital isolation back to Miramar quarantine. Right. There's definitely a chance. Now the CDC is saying that they have done a contact investigation and they said that they have found no high risk exposures, meaning this person didn't come within close, repeated contact with somebody. Now they say that investigation is ongoing, uh, but they don't believe it will affect any, any of the other 230 plus people's quarantine there. Um, right now they're scheduled to be released on the 18th and the 20th respectively. Um, that's assuming that nothing goes wrong with this. The health establishment has been trying to calm fears about novel Corona virus. And now of course we hear about this mix up, right? How is the CDC handling this mistake when dealing with the media? The CDC isn't giving any news conferences, nothing that would, you know, go out there and get in front of a camera, reassure the public, say, Hey, nothing is wrong. Now I know, me personally, I've reached out to UT San Diego health, reached out to the CDC asking them to reconsider this cause I know I'm getting questions from a lot of people on social media. People are emailing me, asking me what's going on with this? What does this mean now that this person is tested. So there's a lot of unanswered questions that we would love to get answered.
Speaker 2: 03:15 The people who remain in quarantine at Miramar and several other military bases are us citizens who've been evacuated from China. You spoke with a couple of people quarantined at Miramar. What did you find out about their situation?
Speaker 1: 03:27 Yeah, well there's two locations. I'm on base where they're staying. One of them is an OnBase hotel and that's where we spoke to a father and daughter, um, Frank who Sinsky and his three year old daughter Annabel. And uh, they, they were actually, um, thought too. They might have the coronavirus they were taken to Rady children's. Uh, they ended up testing negative. They had to return back to the quarantine to finish. Um, but he says it's not, it's really not that bad. I mean, there's a playground for Annabel. There's a basketball court outside. They can walk around. They can't walk around the entire base. Obviously they're in a quarantine area, uh, but they get three meals a day. They're staying in a room that's just like a hotel, two beds, coffee maker, microwave, bathroom. Um, and he said the food could be a little bit better.
Speaker 1: 04:03 Uh, we know on Sunday night they had a pineapple chicken for dinner. Um, but what's also interesting too is you're seeing not only just, I mean what life is like inside, but we're seeing like the mental toll it's taking on these people. Uh, this gentleman, Frank, he had to leave his wife, um, who's not a us citizen in China and she wasn't able to get on the evacuation flight and now he can't help, but he's has like survivor's guilt where he's thinking, you know, was it right for me to leave my wife? Um, her father-in-law did have the coronavirus in China. He just died on Sunday. And so he's now wondering, did I make the right decision? I left my wife at the worst point in her life. Um, kind of interesting. MCA S Miramar is offering, um, like, uh, social workers and counselors. So he's been talking to those counselors.
Speaker 1: 04:41 Um, also to trying to explain his three year old daughter, Annabel, she doesn't understand why her mom isn't here. And I'm kind of a really sad story is that she now is thinking that the mom doesn't want to see them. And so, uh, the dad is trying to explain to her, no, no, no, mommy wants to see you. She just can't, she can't be or she really wants to, but the daughter doesn't understand that. She's just taking it as mom doesn't want to see us and she doesn't understand why. So she's saying things now like I don't want to see mommy.
Speaker 2: 05:07 That's heartbreaking in all how many people have shown signs of the virus while here at Miramar?
Speaker 1: 05:13 Well, we know of the 230 people that have landed last week, nine people have gone to local hospitals. Um, in terms of testing for the coronavirus six negative tests, one positive test, which obviously was just saga and then two are pending. So too, we don't know whether they have it or not.
Speaker 2: 05:28 Are we expecting any more people to be brought here from China to mirror a Miramar quarantine?
Speaker 1: 05:33 Yeah. So right now there's about 230 people there. A mere Mar officials tell me that the base, they have the capacity for 350 people so we could see some more people coming. I know the CDC said that it was unclear whether or not that'd be happening. It just sort of, um, it's like on an as needed basis. Like if they need to evacuate more people out of [inaudible], they will. Obviously that first flight, uh, had about 167 people on it. The second one, only 65. So there might not be a need, but
Speaker 3: 05:58 if there is a need, yeah, we could, we, we very well may see more flights come here to Miramar. I've been speaking with the KPBS reporter, Matt Hoffman. Matt. Thank you. Thanks Maureen.
Speaker 4: 06:11 [inaudible]
Speaker 3: 06:15 times are changing and now a state appointed board is working to keep up with those changing times to find out what works and what doesn't. At the Del Mar fair grounds, gun shows are barred. Interest in horse racing has fallen off, bare attendance has decreased and the Kubu music festival has found a new home. So what does the future of the Del Mar fairgrounds look like? Phil deal has been looking into that future. He is a reporter with the San Diego union Tribune and joins us now. Feel welcome. Hello. Welcome to you. Uh, you know, the board that controls the fairgrounds has launched this strategic planning process, uh, tonight. The first of a series of workshops will be held. Is this the first step in the strategic planning process?
Speaker 5: 06:56 It is. It's a one of four meetings they're going to hold this year. Uh, they invite community members and local leaders like mayors and council members to participate and talk about what they like or don't like about the things that happen at the fairgrounds.
Speaker 3: 07:13 So, and tell me what's going to happen next.
Speaker 5: 07:16 Um, they will compile this information into some recommendations. What really needs to happen is they have to get a lot of money because anything they do is going to be expensive that they'll talk about maybe replacing some of the, uh, exhibition buildings. And, and building new facilities and that sort of thing. They have created strategic plans a few times in the past and they do some of the things, but they don't know how to always have money to do all the things they'd like to do.
Speaker 3: 07:46 Hmm. Yeah. Speaking of money, the money being made at the fairgrounds has been steadily declining. One reason is because of declining revenue from horse racing. Walk us through the reason for that.
Speaker 5: 07:56 Uh, well, horse racing has had a few challenges recently. There's just a greater interest in animal welfare these days, but there's been some high profile problems with racing, especially at Santa Anita, which holds it's race season just before Del Mar holds it's race season. So it gets a lot of attention. And Santa Anita has had a lot of, uh, horses that were injured or put down there and that focuses negative attention on the sport.
Speaker 3: 08:28 Mmm. Uh, and what about the gambling competition
Speaker 5: 08:31 and the gambling competition is another thing a lot of native American casinos, tribal casinos have opened up. Um, there are a lot of off track betting facilities that have opened in the, in recent years and online gambling especially more recently, uh, has all taken business from the track at Del Mar. People don't have to show up and go to the windows, place their bets so much anymore.
Speaker 3: 08:57 Um, but while there has been a decrease in horse racing revenue altogether or there's been an increase in food and beverage sales at the facility, is that right?
Speaker 5: 09:05 That's right. So they put a new emphasis on like gourmet meals and fancy drinks and also after the races events they hold more concerts where they can sell more food and beverages. So that has increased that part of the income for them.
Speaker 3: 09:23 Hmm. And tell me a bit about the County fair. Speaking of, of uh, revenue from food and beverage, uh, why has a, there been a decline in attendance for that?
Speaker 5: 09:32 It's hard to say exactly why it peaked in 2016. Uh, and it's declined slightly since then. And one reason is they haven't increased the length of the fairs since then. That's one way that they boost attendances. They, uh, have gradually over the decades increased the length of the fair. Uh, but then it also depends on things like the weather and, uh, overall economy. So, uh, they're just looking at ways to increase attendance there.
Speaker 3: 10:04 Many of our listeners know the facility for being the site of the fairgrounds in horse racing, but it also has some lesser known uses. Talk to us about those
Speaker 5: 10:13 or hundreds of events there every year. And there are a lot of flower shows and bridal fairs and just all kinds of events. And some of those things have changed over the years. One thing that's going away next year is the gun show, um, the crossroads of the West gun show that's held there five times a year. It draws a lot of people and it's a source of revenue. Like there's a contract, the fair board meets today also, and there's a contract for March, a gun show in March, and the rent for that is $11,000. Uh, so it's just one thing that's going away. And another source of revenue.
Speaker 3: 10:56 Have they found any success with the, uh, with it being used as an equestrian facility and golf center?
Speaker 5: 11:01 Oh yeah. They have the golf, they have a golf center there. It's right along the I five and it has a driving range. It's, it's got a couple of miniature golf courses. It has an electronic simulated golf thing that simulates courses around the world. I think it has a lot of attractions and, and it has done well the last few years so they probably would like to get more things like that.
Speaker 3: 11:28 A new arena at the fairgrounds is being built. What uh, is that expected to be used for?
Speaker 5: 11:33 Right. That is going in at the off track wagering facility. The Surfside race place, which, uh, was built in the 90s it's a big two story building along Jimmy Durante Boulevard at sort of the Northern end of the fairgrounds I believe. And it has never done as well as hoped for all the reasons we about before. There's a lot of competition that draws people away from there. So they are renovating that building to put in a new arena where they will hold a lot of, uh, music concerts and special events. And, uh, they're also looking at things like e-sports, which attracts a lot of people to play competitive online games. So that's a big change that's coming to the fairgrounds.
Speaker 3: 12:19 Where do you suppose funding to make some of the changes that they want to make to the fairgrounds might come from?
Speaker 5: 12:24 Uh, that's a good question. Pretty much all the funding that they get comes from revenue, from the events that they produce. They could issue bonds. That's what they did when they rebuilt the grand stands there in the early nineties. I think that was, uh, they issued $80 million in bonds to rebuild. What were the original grant stands? Were wooden and basically pretty rundown. So they replaced us with the building that's there now by using bonds. So that's another possibility.
Speaker 3: 12:54 Mm. And so ultimately this strategic planning process is looking at possible future uses of the property. What are some of the possibilities being thrown around right now?
Speaker 5: 13:03 They're open to possibilities. I have not heard that many suggestions. I mean it's always going to be agricultural based, most likely because that's what's held there. I mean the Fair's been held for over a hundred years and the fairgrounds have been there since the 1930s and the mission of the agricultural district that owns the property is to promote agriculture and related events. So I don't imagine it will stray too far from that in the near future.
Speaker 3: 13:33 I've been speaking with San Diego union Tribune reporter Phil deal. Thank you very much, Phil, for your welcome. Tonight's strategic plan workshop begins at 5:00 PM at the fairgrounds mission tower building. You're listening to KPBS mid day edition. I'm Jade Hindman. I'm worrying Cavenaugh the media spotlight may be on the novel coronavirus but the flu is still the more widespread and dangerous disease in the U S and California is urging more hospital workers to get the flu vaccine. KPBS reporter Taryn mento tells us a new report indicates more than 100,000 hospital employees are choosing not to get the flu shot.
Speaker 6: 14:12 A Velcro cuff squeezes the arm of ed Hollingsworth. The machine checks his blood pressure while a nurse takes his temperature. No fever. That's good news for Hollingsworth because he has a weakened immune system due to undergoing cancer treatment, so he takes extra precaution to avoid getting sick.
Speaker 7: 14:31 I don't get out much now I had to stop substitute.
Speaker 6: 14:34 He says he left because of the fatigue from cancer and stayed away because of the health risks, but it was a difficult decision.
Speaker 7: 14:41 I love going to one to one school and the guy goes, Oh, a sub and this girl goes, no, he's a good stuff as long as you do your work.
Speaker 6: 14:46 But a common illness like the flu could be deadly and classrooms are filled with germs, expose myself to all that, but patients like him could be exposed to the flu at the facilities that care for them. The state wants 90% of a hospital staff to be vaccinated against the illness by the end of the next flu season. But new data show nearly 200 of California hospitals are not on track for that, including five in San Diego. At the same time, the region is home to the hospital with the best vaccination rate in the state. My name is Megan Medina. I'm an infection control coordinator at Rady children's hospital C and D goes, Rady has 99% of staff vaccinated. Medina says that's possible because of a strict exemption policy. The County requires unvaccinated hospital employees to wear a mask while working, but they don't have to give any reason for declining ratings. Policy only allows medical excuses.
Speaker 6: 15:42 The employee has to meet with our occupational health department, the San Diego facilities that aren't on track to reach the goal, all allow personal belief exemptions. Alvarado hospital medical center had the lowest vaccination rate in the County at 78% for the record, the worst of the state and LA hospital is 29% Alvarado declined an interview, but Dr. Craig Waco at Scripps health says, the problem is some staff get a flu vaccine elsewhere, but don't provide proof. They don't send it to us, unfortunately. Then we consider them un-vaccinated. He pointed to physicians a law designed to block corporate practice of medicine means doctors are licensed independent practitioners. Scripts. Mercy Chulavista is one of those not on track to meet the state's goal, but only by one percentage point. If you remove licensed independent practitioners from the equation, the rate among direct employees is one point over goal. I just don't think the numbers reflected accurately. A sharp facility in Cornetto was also just shy of being on track, but as spokesman says, it did a better job getting documentation from doctors this flu season and the rate went up. Paradise Valley and catered hospitals were each at 84% but again they had,
Speaker 8: 16:54 and vitals are good one 36 over 70
Speaker 6: 16:56 for Hollingsworth. The retired teacher, the risk of getting flu at his hospital is lower than others. He receives treatment at UC San Diego health medical center in LA Jolla, which is tied for second highest rate in the state, but his wife, Maryann worries for patients where more employees may use their right to refuse the vaccine.
Speaker 8: 17:14 I respect that, but I also expect them to be concerned and respect our rights to not be exposed to something that could prove fatal.
Speaker 6: 17:25 All of the San Diego hospital's not on track to reach goal, allow personal belief exemptions, but soda, many of the state's highest performers, still County public health officer. Dr Wilma Wooten says she wasn't aware of local hospitals were permitting it. We reached her on video chat, so that's something we need to explore and determine why that is. But she says the County only requires employees to get a vaccine or wear a mask. So hospitals free to enforce that how they choose and there aren't any penalties if a facility doesn't meet the state's goal.
Speaker 9: 17:54 We are not telling people how to implement that policy
Speaker 6: 17:57 at the Hollingsworth home. The policy is get your flu shot or please stay away. He and wife Maryann asked their 26 year old son to get it before coming home for Christmas
Speaker 4: 18:07 and when his son's band mates stayed at the house for a recent show at the Casbah, he asked them to commit to where it said he knew going to the nightclub was risky, but he couldn't miss his son. Show Taryn mental KPBS news.
Speaker 2: 18:23 Joining me is KPBS health reporter Taryn Manto. Taryn, welcome. Thank you. What are the possible reasons that some hospital workers are not getting flu shots?
Speaker 6: 18:33 That is a very good question. And from the report, we don't know if it's a personal reason or a medical reason, but I did ask, uh, the CDU, County public health officer, dr Wilma Wooten, uh, about this. And this is what she had to say.
Speaker 9: 18:46 People are people first before they are nurses or our physicians or healthcare personnel. And you'd be surprised to know about some of the belief systems of people that are in healthcare. And so it is just our job to continue to educate.
Speaker 2: 19:03 Well that's all well and good, but California school children are not allowed to get personal belief exemptions from getting vaccinated. Why does this exemption still exist for hospital staff?
Speaker 6: 19:13 You're right. And that's why a lot of people probably are paying attention to him when he say the word personal belief. They remembered the debate over legislation. It was introduced to, to remove that option for, for kids. Um, but school children we should say are not required to get the flu vaccine. So that is a little bit different. Um, but why does it exist? That's, you know, I've talked to a couple of people, they say that's a very good question and it's up to hospitals to determine what is the best for their healthcare workers and for the flu vaccine to give them the option to do it. Uh, but with other immunizations, you know, hepatitis and then measles. Most institutions have a policy where, you know, it's a condition of higher, that's an issue of workplace safety. You know, under Cal OSHA, occupational safety and health administration, they have to protect their workers from some of the things they might be exposed to in a hospital. So that's, having that policy in place is more of a kind of workplace safety, but there isn't state requirements that forces people to get mandatory vaccinations for anything. It's really up to the PO, the hospital policy.
Speaker 2: 20:18 Is there any way of knowing how many doctors, nurses and hospital staff members have actually come down with the flu this year?
Speaker 6: 20:25 I actually asked about this when I was at Rady children's hospital speaking with Megan Medina. She manages infection control. I'm at the hospital and they have one of the highest vaccination rates in the state. They actually the highest. And I asked her, you know, when you find that someone is sick or that a patient gets the flu, do you do an investigation? And she said yes, absolutely, but it's really difficult to get back the actual person that may have caused this and the County themselves, they do investigations but only in cases of outbreaks. So I'm, and again, it's really difficult to go back to the individual person, um, that may be had brought in the flu and given it to a patient.
Speaker 2: 21:04 Now, one of the doctors you spoke with indicated that not meeting the state vaccination goal, maybe do more to poor record keeping than actual unvaccinated staff. Tell us more about that.
Speaker 6: 21:15 So, right, I was speaking with Dr. Craig Waco at Scripps health and he was explaining that doctors under a state law, um, are not direct employees of a hospital. They're licensed independent practitioners. So they are independent. So when it comes to a hospital's policy, they may be treating patients at a bunch of different facilities and then therefore they may give their proof of vaccination to one facility where they may be spend the most amount of their time, but not realizing that they need to give proof of documentation to other facilities where they may have just stepped in for one day during a flu season. So that's kind of where it becomes an issue of getting documentation and not necessarily an issue of getting vaccination.
Speaker 2: 21:57 And some of the hospitals say hospital staff can either get vaccinated or wear a mask is a mask as effective as a shot.
Speaker 6: 22:05 Right. So I specifically asked this of Dr. Craig Waco, cause the County requires a vaccination or a mask. And so this is what dr Waco had to say.
Speaker 10: 22:14 The flu is passed by droplets so it should be effective. Now it probably needs to be changed too. You can't wear one for hours on end. Um, but as long as they're going in using, you know, appropriate precautions, washing their hands and then wearing the mask. But you know, the other thing is if they're sick, they're hopefully not working.
Speaker 6: 22:35 I will say though, that public health officials do say that the flu shot is the best tool to prevent the spread of flu. Um, but we do know that its efficacy varies year by year. Um, but so the, the mask, as long as they're being, you know, careful could, could really help with preventing the spread of flu,
Speaker 2: 22:51 what it makes sense for patients to ask their doctors or nurses if they've gotten the flu shot.
Speaker 6: 22:55 That is what the state wants you to do. They're putting this information out there so you can be informed about what your hospital's vaccination rate is and you can possibly choose to go to one where one is higher, if that's something that you're interested in, but that you have the information. So you can ask your doctor or your hospital staff and say, Hey, why aren't you improving your vaccination rates? So yes, that is what the reports intended to drive you to do.
Speaker 2: 23:17 I've been speaking with KPBS health reporter Taryn mento. Taryn, thank you a lot. Thank you. During the last presidential election, many political analysts pointed to class as a dividing factor for votes, but a new book dangerously divided how race and class shape winning and losing in America challenges that notion pointing to statistics and history to reveal race
Speaker 3: 23:46 is an even bigger factor. Joining me is author and professor of political science at the university of San Diego, Zoe [inaudible]. Zoe, welcome.
Speaker 11: 23:55 Thank you for having me.
Speaker 3: 23:56 So the central theme of this book is that race divides voters more so than class. Can you explain this?
Speaker 11: 24:03 If you look at the electorate as a whole, it's fairly obvious that race is the dominant factor shaping who we vote for. So overwhelmingly two thirds or more of racial and ethnic minorities are on one side, not just in 2016 but in 2018 and in other elections at the national and state level. And then on the other side you have about 60 65% or so of whites voting Republican. So the overwhelming majority of minorities on one side, the clear majority of whites on the other, and there really isn't a democratic divide that comes close to that.
Speaker 3: 24:40 Yeah, I mean, so many scholars point to classes. One of the determining factors in the 2016 election, how does your research fit with this notion?
Speaker 11: 24:50 Yeah, you cannot ignore the role of class. It matters growing economic inequality, economic anxiety, they all impact the vote. But one way to sort of think about this is to say, okay, if economic anxiety and class are the driving forces, then you should see racial ethnic minorities who are also working class. And in fact disproportionately working class, you should be moving in the same direction as the white working class. And you see blacks and Latinos who are, are, are struggling, moving in the opposite direction as whites who are struggling. So similar economic circumstances, very different political choices. And it's really race that's doing that thing, wishing or movement. The other sort of reason why people are focused on class. If you look at the very small portion of the population that shifted from Obama to Trump, it is disproportionately white working class folks. So people who are struggling. But again, uh, minorities are struggling, moved in the opposite direction if at all. And if you look at the broader electorate, it's clear that these racial divisions dwarf these emerging class divisions. They're real and they're emerging, but they're, they're small, relatively speaking
Speaker 3: 25:58 in your book, you write that many people may not know and even be surprised by the extent to which the racial divide influences politics. How are politics shaped by this divide
Speaker 11: 26:09 at every level in every sense? And, uh, so, uh, if you, you know, we, we talk a lot about presidential elections, uh, but, um, the research that I did for this book looked at every single kind of election that you can possibly imagine. So from the president to local city council and everything in between. And what you find is that that racial divide is omnipresent. Um, and in almost every case dwarfs age, gender, class, and, and, um, in particularly, even when there aren't parties involved, so local elections, which are largely nonpartisan, race is still the dominant factor. In fact, in these local elections, racial gaps outweigh partisan or ideological gaps more often than not. So anytime we're choosing candidates, um, it really is race that predicts our choices much more than than class or any of these other factors.
Speaker 12: 27:03 What's the consequence of such a racially divided America shaping democracy
Speaker 11: 27:07 deeply and broadly? You have a sense among minorities that the system is not fair, a perhaps increasing sense that it is not going to be fair in the future. And then there's all the potential and real conflict that that seems to be flowing from that. Right? So we've have a rise in hate crimes and in particular a rise in hate crimes on the right as many whites think that they are losing their majority stash, that they are losing their power and their, you know, there, there, there is this real backlash, both political and violent. And so the, the fear is that that just continues to expand and you, you get even more violence than we've had in recent years. And just, uh, the whole scary notion of a nation divided a potentially civil war or, or, or that sort of thing.
Speaker 12: 28:01 Are there solutions?
Speaker 11: 28:02 So as a, as a field of political science, I'm not sure we've been able to demonstrate how you reduce those anxieties. There are solutions to the broader imbalances in American democracy. And the solution that I look at in this book is actually very simple and that is electing Democrats. So, uh, as I've said there, there are these imbalances in terms of who government responds to, but it's also clear that when Democrats are in the majority, when they're in control, those imbalances go away. So Democrats aren't biased in favor of minorities. They're just willing to equally listen to a range of the electorate and their policies follow that electorate fairly broadly.
Speaker 12: 28:43 Do you think these priorities are something the Republican party could latch hold of?
Speaker 11: 28:48 Well, I mean, I, I think the Republican party is clearly at, at the present time, focused on a strategy of winning elections by winning white votes, right? So 90% of the voters who voted for Trump are white. Most cases Republican votes are white votes. And that's a strategy that has been relatively successful for them, especially at the state level. And it's one that they're loath to give up. But if they are interested in thinking longterm, if they're thinking about, you know, America after it's a my jump majority minority nation, which won't be too long if they're looking at California, they, they can see that the current strategy is, is one that will likely fail miserably over the long term. And so they do have a longterm incentive to try and attract more minority votes. And I would argue that they actually have an opportunity to do so.
Speaker 11: 29:40 So for those minorities that are politically involved and active, they are clearly overwhelmingly democratic leaning. But there are a lot of minorities who are on the sidelines who are having chosen a party who are sort of a political, and the Republican party could begin to target that large and growing population. The Republicans would have to radically shift their policy agenda. They would have to radically shift their rhetoric on race and immigration, but they are not doomed. They may choose to be doomed, but they could become a party that represents a larger swath of America if they so chose.
Speaker 2: 30:18 I've been speaking with Zoe Heino, author of dangerously divided and professor of political science at the university of San Diego. Zoely. Thank you very much for joining us.
Speaker 11: 30:28 Thank you. It was a pleasure to be here.
Speaker 2: 30:30 You're listening to KPBS midday edition. I'm Jade Hindman. I'm Maureen Cavanagh. What does a drug addict look like despite whatever stereotypes we may have? Addiction doesn't respect class, color or profession can affect just about anyone. Even a successful, wealthy and well-respected San Diego attorney. The story of how addiction created secrets, lies and ultimately tragedy for his family is told in a new book by his former wife. Joining me is journalist Eileen Zimmerman. She's the author of smacked and Eileen, welcome to the program. Thank you for having me. You opened the book with a description of the terrible day back in 2015 when you found your ex husband dead inside his beach house in Del Mar. What made you go searching for him in the first place?
Speaker 13: 31:18 He had been acting very bizarrely for a long time before that, probably a year, but things had accelerated in the previous four or five months where he was absent for long periods of time. He was not at home when he was supposed to be in. My son was still in high school and living there part of the time and in the week before I went up to see him, I children had been there and reported that he was especially sick, so sick. He couldn't get out of bed, couldn't raise his head. He'd been vomiting and I tried to speak to him on the phone and my son said, no, he's, he's going back to bed, you know, he's too sick. So then we could not reach him. Text and phone and I even tried his secretary at work. We just could not reach him and my daughter was starting to worry and I was really worried and I had just decided that's it.
Speaker 13: 32:03 I'm going up there, I'm going to take him to the hospital and we're going to figure out what's going on. Tell us about Peter. What was he like? He was a very, very smart man. He had a masters in chemistry. He'd worked in industry for four years and then he went and got the JD and became a lawyer, graduated top of his class. He was the editor of law review, you know, he was just, he was a very interesting human being, very thoughtful about life and his work. It was just an interesting guy to talk to and be around. I always thought he was very calm and kind of a still waters run deep, but you know, that's fun. In the of our relationship, later on it became clear that he was depressed. He probably had anxiety too. He was never up. He was just always kind of down.
Speaker 13: 32:47 And then the chronic stress and the insane hours of being a lawyer at a very prestigious high power firm took its toll on him. And I think after 15 years of that chronic stress, he just, he really started to change in the book. Smacked Eileen, you discover after Peter's death that he had all the physical signs of an IVA drug user. Can you read to us a little bit from that part of the book? Sure. Would you like me to set it up a little bit? Please? So I'm going to read from when I'm at Peter's house. I'm in the backyard, the medical examiner and the police are there. And so, um, this is from us in the backyard. Angela says, we actually see a lot of this now wealthy, high powered executives that overdose and die usually from some combination of amphetamines, opioids and other drugs.
Speaker 13: 33:37 I think Peter probably died of an overdose. We won't know until the autopsy, but that's what it looks like. But I say starting to cry. He had kids, we have kids. They were here. They lived here part of the time. Can't you see how crazy what she's suggesting would be? Are you sure? I say, how do you know there were injection marks on his arms and legs? Angela says, I'm stunned. I was standing over his prone body. I was yelling into his face, shaking his shoulders. I touched his arms, pulled at the right one, trying to move it aside so I could do chest compressions. I didn't see anything at all except that one bloody hole. Thank you. That was Eileen Zimmerman reading from her book smacked. You were totally shocked by this. Yes. Since then, what have you learned about wide color addiction? Well, there are no comprehensive studies of white collar professionals and the drugs they do.
Speaker 13: 34:32 There's more studies about alcohol, especially alcohol and lawyers, but I did talk to quite a few of them. I went to a lot of high end rehabs where white collar professionals will go to get clean and stop using and recover. And one thing that struck me that I heard over and over again from these professionals with that was that they had kind of gotten to the top of their game. A lot of them, and when they got there they sort of said to themselves, this is it. And there was this kind of disquiet and feeling like, well this can't, this can't be it. This isn't that exciting. How did the revelation about Peter's drug use affect you in your children? Well, it was very difficult at first. I mean, actually I should say at first there was enormous relief because suddenly everything made sense. You know, all of a sudden it made perfect sense why he was behaving the way he was behaving.
Speaker 13: 35:22 And it didn't mean he didn't love his kids. It didn't mean he, he was trying to be a bad dad. It meant that he was in the grip of this disease that he had was struggling with addiction. But then afterwards, I think we felt as a family, a lot of shame and guilt that, you know, this man was visibly killing himself in front of all of us and we did not recognize what was happening. And I think for my kids, there was this feeling like this, this is happening in our family, you know, in this, you know, white, you know, well-off, well-educated, overeducated, you know, family. The kids were in private school, you know, and, and just around people whose families, if they had these problems, they certainly weren't talking about it. What signs did you, do you think you missed? I didn't recognize the, Peter would never wear short sleeves.
Speaker 13: 36:09 That he was sleeping all the time. And that he would fall asleep sometimes when he should be awake, like just sitting in the car. He would just not off. And I just thought, Oh my gosh, he's working so hard. The guy can't even stay awake. The weight loss, you know, he was 20 maybe 25 pounds overweight. When we split up five years later, he was, you know, 50 pounds then. I mean he was losing so much weight and he had all of these reasons for never for not being where he was supposed to be. If he was supposed to pick my son up from school, he'd be two, two and a half hours late and he lived 25 minutes away at and he'd say, well, I was in a meeting or I left my phone in another room, or I, you know, I had an emergency call, all of which seemed plausible, but you know, take, get taken together.
Speaker 13: 36:53 I wish I had seen what was really going on. You know, it might be a common reaction to avoid sharing the drug related death of a loved one because of the pain involved. What made you decide to share this story of Peter? Well, two things. I think one was I really needed to process it and I hadn't told a soul for a year and a half, except I'm very close friends and family. And it felt like when people would ask me, you know, what happened to him? He was only 51. I had to come up with this kind of lie saying like, Oh, well he was living an unhealthy life and um, and it was really starting to take a toll on me. I felt very depressed and anxious and I felt like his death was sort of meaningless. You know, I thought he died, you know, the from kind of, you know, took his profile down, packed up his office.
Speaker 13: 37:39 They went on, everybody went on and it felt like this horrible thing happened to us. And I knew it couldn't be just our family having this. And I felt like I needed to make some meaning out of it. And so I originally wrote a story for the New York times about what happened to Peter, but largely focused on the legal profession. And I had such an outpouring of email from that with people sharing their stories that were very similar, some far worse, some a little bit less intense than ours that I thought, well, this struck a chord and I'm going to, you know, when I talked to my kids and we felt like maybe this was the way to help other people. Maybe if we'd had this book back then we would have seen what was happening. I've been speaking with Eileen Zimmerman. She's the author of smacked a story of white color ambition, addiction and tragedy. She'll be speaking about her book in a series of events in San Diego this week, starting tonight at the women's museum of California and Eileen, thank you very much. Thank you so much. Maureen San Diego
Speaker 12: 38:41 opera is bringing Grimms fairy tale Hansel and Gretel to life through large scale puppets. KPBS tree Porter bath dock. Amando goes behind the scenes to show how designers, singers, and puppeteers are collaborating to make magic on stage.
Speaker 14: 38:58 [inaudible]
Speaker 15: 39:08 every day that an opera singer gets to bring a cannibalistic witch to life
Speaker 14: 39:14 [inaudible]
Speaker 15: 39:14 I lure children into the forest and I cook them into gingerbread cakes and then I eat them. It's delightful, but what's not so delightful for tenor Joel Sorenson is having to wear a big puppetry rig to create a larger than life, which onstage the entire time I'm on stage, I'm, I'm basically working with a puppet while trying to sing and convey a character. So it's a real challenge. It's a, it's a very different approach to anything I've done before. The challenge for director Brenner corner in tackling the opera of Hansel and Gretel was how do you make adults look like kids and how do you bring a fairy tale to life? And quite frankly, the best way I could figure out how to do that was puppets. So anything that wasn't human became a puppet, like the witch Sorenson plays.
Speaker 15: 40:03 It's different in that it's not my physicality because I'm manipulating her hands, her arms facially and vocally. I'm trying to do the same things that I would do if I were performing it without a puppet. Now, if you're thinking of puppets as something you put on your hand, think again. Imagine actors completely enveloped in layers of fabric with a large sculpted head or face high above their shoulders and an arm span that exceeds 10 feet. Judd Palmer of old trout puppet workshop in Canada. Design the puppets. So we had to really blow up the notion of what a puppet is, uh, in order to successfully encompass the fusion of opera and puppetry. Our inspiration was classic 19th century, a children's book, illustrators like, uh, Arthur Raca, Morenci Wyeth and these kinds of characters. We wanted the whole thing to feel like it comes out of a book. It becomes, you know, the illustrations come to life like a, like a pop up book or like an actual book that comes magically into existence before your very eyes in gun is the puppeteer working with Sorenson.
Speaker 15: 41:04 I get to live inside this character that I'm helping to bring alive, but she has her own voice standing right in front of me and I don't know how to describe it, but I feel like I am transported inside this imagination. It's like I'm in the time bandits or something like that where I'm really, we're doing something magical and it's a magical character and the only reason it's alive is because we're in there giving it our all. So it's pretty cool. Warner says the puppets engaged the audience in a unique way. The thing about puppetry is it's extraordinary because it's this agreement that the audience makes with the performers that we agree not to see the person who's obviously a person and instead we agree to look at this fabric, some PVC pipe and a plaster like face. Right? What's extraordinary to me about puppetry is that as an audience we're like continually investing our imagination in seeing the thing that the performers want us to see.
Speaker 15: 42:03 Palmer says that by not trying to fool audience members and instead asking them to play along in a game of make-believe, it allows them to become co-conspirators. You can see the puppeteer right there in a ridiculous outfit. They're sweating and panting from having to run across the stage and they're waving the thing around. It lets us all lean on the joke in a way, but also in the kind of the dream, it's, it makes it evident to everybody in the audience that, that they're going to have to invest imaginatively in this in the same way as the people on stage. Our corner suggest that you come to this production with a sense of childlike imagination like that, that joy that you had when you were a kid. And you could imagine what would happen if a stick was suddenly a giant scary monster. That's what you want to bring to this production. Cause that's what this production creates, is the sense of wonder and joy and mystery that's inherent in being a kid and inherent in a story that begins with the magical possibilities of once upon a time. Beth like Amando KPBS news,
Speaker 4: 43:08 [inaudible]
Speaker 15: 43:08 San Diego opera's production of Inglebord Humper dinks Hansel and Gretel runs through February 16 at San Diego civic theater.
Speaker 4: 43:20 [inaudible].
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention accidentally cleared a person with COVID-19 or coronavirus. The mistake was caught by CDC officials in Atlanta. Plus, the public is invited to weigh in on the future of the Del Mar Fairgrounds. Also, some local hospitals are lagging behind on their vaccinations against flu. In addition, a new book by a UC San Diego political science professor suggests race, above all else, is the dominant factor that shapes who wins and loses elections in the U.S. And, drug addiction does not respect class, race or profession. The story of how addiction created secrets, lies and ultimately tragedy for a San Diego attorney and his family. Finally, how the San Diego Opera brought the cannibalistic witch to life in “Hansel And Gretel.”