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LATEST UPDATES: Racial Justice | Tracking COVID-19 (coronavirus)

San Diego Coronavirus Cases Cross 18,000, Plastic Bags Are Banned Again, San Diego’s Top Events This Weekend

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GREGORY BULL / AP PHOTO

A man leaves a grocery store wearing a face mask Friday, April 17, 2020, in San Diego

San Diego County public health officials reported 560 new coronavirus cases and nine new deaths Thursday, raising the county’s totals to 18,402 positive cases and 415 deaths. Plus, single-use plastic bags are banned again after making a brief return to grocery stores across the state due to COVID-19. But many bags are still lingering in the trash. Finally, KPBS Arts Editor Julia Dixon-Evans previews some of this weekend’s top arts events, including a performance by local rapper Ric Scales, an art show to benefit a historically poor neighborhood in Tijuana and a “fun-size” virtual performance of “Matilda” the musical.

Speaker 1: 00:00 San Diego tries to slow down the rising number of community outbreaks. And there's estimates that there's about 10 close context for each case. So if we've reached 9,000, we still have some work to do. I'm Maureen Kavanaugh. This is KPBS mid day edition. There's a push to bring back reusable, grocery bags and San Diego supermarkets. The resurgence of the thin single use truly a single use plastic

Speaker 2: 00:34 Bags is astonishing.

Speaker 1: 00:38 Virtual art shows, musicals and an open mic rep night makeup. Our weekend preview at 1230 is the KPBS round table with host Mark Sauer. That's ahead this hour on KPBS mid day edition. The spike in COVID-19 infections continues in San Diego. Officials reported yesterday 560 people tested positive raising the county's 14 day positivity rate to 6%. There have now been more than 18,000 positive cases in San Diego with 415 deaths as County officials analyze the bad news about COVID one metric is especially important to our daily lives. That's the number of community outbreaks and increase in community outbreaks led to the closure of bars and indoor dining and San Diego, and a continued upswing may lead to more closures. I'm joined now by KPBS health reporter, Taran mento Taryn. Welcome. Hey Maureen, how do health officials define a community outbreak? So it's at least three cases that's tied to the same setting and it's among people who are not part of the same household.

Speaker 1: 01:47 How many community outbreaks have there been in San Diego recently? So as of yesterday, there have been 15 outbreaks over the last seven days and every day to the counties, looking back over the previous seven days to add up the community outbreaks that have been reported. So that seven day windows kind of always changing every day by a day and tracking community outbreaks is one of the county's triggers. Those metrics you mentioned, and that's, what's meant to alert us when corrective action needs to be taken. So for community outbreaks, if there are seven or more reported in that seven day window, then we are technically heading the trigger. 15 is obviously above that level. And we've, we've been above that level for awhile. Now, earlier this week, we had reached 24 outbreaks at a seven day period. Do we ever find out exactly where these outbreaks have taken place?

Speaker 1: 02:36 The County has not provided exact addresses, just descriptions like a business or grocery store or bar and restaurant. That's where we're seeing most of the outbreaks. But, um, earlier this week they reported an outbreak at a resort spa at daycare. Um, and that's the first time at least that I recall seeing those types of businesses, um, linked back to outbreaks and the County said that they've, they're keeping locations until there's a real urgent need for the community to know, or they feel that it's so large that they could attract everyone down unless they were alerting the public that they may have been somewhere that has an active outbreak. It seems seems that these outbreaks are likely in places where, you know, people just let their guard down. Is that the idea, you know, that's, that's what officials have said. They're leaking back a lot of these outbreaks to locations where alcohol is served, you know, so lots of bars slash restaurants.

Speaker 1: 03:25 You know, they say people who drank may not follow the rules. They may get a little bit more close to someone when they're talking. They may be in a loud area. So maybe they're talking loudly and therefore, maybe they may be releasing more of these droplets that we know is how we transmit this illness. And those come out when we cough sneeze or even talk. Um, and you know, you mentioned in the introduction, you know, earlier this month, when we saw cases starting to grow the County ordered bars to be shut down, unless they serve food or partnered. When we, you know, with a restaurant to provide food on site and they gave restaurants a curfew of 10:00 PM and said that alcohol had to be served alongside a meal. Um, you know, and then later this month, you know, when case counts this week, actually when case counts continue to increase the state ordered restaurants to shut down indoor operations entirely.

Speaker 1: 04:12 And you know, we'll be under those restrictions for at least a couple more weeks. And our community outbreaks more likely to start indoors than in an outdoor space. So San Diego officials have said, all of the outbreaks have been tied to indoor settings. They have not tied an outbreak to an outdoor setting. And again, you can see the state's ordering indoor operations be shut down. Um, but you know, things like, uh, outdoor dining is still allowed to go on contact tracing is especially important in community outbreaks. Has the County been successful in trying to contain these outbreaks? Well, stay wide, uh, you know, an NPR survey showed California has about half the contact tracers. It needs to contain outbreaks. Um, we know when the County thanks to some reporting by my KPBS colleague, Claire triglyceride, that our County contact tracers have connected with about 9,000 close contacts of people who have tested positive for the virus.

Speaker 1: 05:05 But, you know, that was a Clare reported that earlier this week and when we had, you know, more than 17,000 cases and there's estimates that there's about 10 close context for each case. So if we've reached 9,000, we still have some work to do outbreaks in skilled nursing facilities and senior care facilities also remain a major concern. There's an outbreak reported in the union Tribune at 100 patients at Rio Vista healthcare center in paradise Hills. Now that's reportedly the largest current outbreak in the state. How many outbreaks have we seen lately in nursing care facilities? So dr. Wilma Wooten, she's the county's public health officer reported 23 active outbreaks and nursing care facilities. They count these separately than the community outbreaks that we talked about earlier. So they're 23 active, but overall there have been 86 outbreaks in these nursing care facilities. And an outbreak is considered inactive.

Speaker 1: 05:59 When there hasn't been a case tied back to it within I believe 14 days, which is the incubation period of COVID. So again, 23 active outbreaks in nursing care facilities reported by Wilma woman earlier this week. Now, when it comes to how San Diego ans can avoid being part of the next community outbreak, what should they do? It's those same measures that we've been hearing public health officials say, you know, for a while, wearing your mask, watch it wash your hands, social distance, six feet separation. Don't gather with people who are not immediate members of your household. And they specifically say don't host any parties because that's one of the other sources that we're seeing a lot of these community outbreaks. Okay. Then I've been speaking with KPBS health reporter, Taren, mento, Taran. Thank you so much. Thanks Maureen. Single use plastic bags reappeared in California at the end of April because of the COVID-19 pandemic and executive order, allowing the bags has since expired, but the bags are lingering in San Diego KPBS environment. Reporter Eric Anderson says that has some focusing on reusable shopping bags. Again, the resurgence of the thin single use, truly a single use plastic bags is astounding.

Speaker 3: 07:17 Alex Ferran works for the San Diego chapter of the Surfrider foundation. She says single use plastic bags were only legal for about two months in California, but they are littered all over the County.

Speaker 1: 07:30 There's been a huge notable change in the kind of trash refining plastic bags are now everywhere.

Speaker 3: 07:37 The lightweight bags were banned in California by voters in November, 2016. That happened after more than a hundred municipalities that already enacted bans on their own. Aaron says Gavin Newsome's executive order in late April gave the bags as second life.

Speaker 1: 07:56 The reasoning is that the executive order was placed was not because of scientific proof. That reusables were dangerous. It came from frontline workers who just knee jerk were uncomfortable. Understandably. So I don't want to touch anything either. And they asked their grocery store chains to, Hey, can you, can you do something about this? Can you make it so that we don't have to touch people's items? We don't want

Speaker 3: 08:19 Farron says the banks are notorious for spilling out of trash cans, trash trucks, and landfills, and becoming part of the region's litter stream. And they're easy to find a long roads, even though only some stores use them.

Speaker 1: 08:33 We use plastic. Grocery bag is, you know, a prime example of an unnecessary use

Speaker 3: 08:40 Plastic. Mark Murray is in charge of Californians against waste. The group convinced voters to ban the bags in 2016, the state was using 500 million bags a month before the initiative passed and were worried about the ecological damage.

Speaker 1: 08:58 There's a product who's useful life, literally. Um, last, maybe 10, 15, 20 minutes. The amount of time it takes you to get your groceries from the check, stand to your

Speaker 3: 09:10 Murray, thinks the governor might've acted too fast with an executive order in April that essentially stopped the use of reusable bags. He understands the uncertainty about COVID-19 drove that decision, but Marie says allowing the plastic bags to return open the door for a plastic industry, anxious to reclaim the California market.

Speaker 1: 09:30 I have literally seen, um, the propaganda from the plastic bag industry, um, throughout the country where they have tried to take advantage of this situation.

Speaker 3: 09:41 Marie says COVID-19 was a talking point. As industry groups tried to demonize reusable bags is unsafe. KPBS reached out to the plastic industry association and plastic bag trade groups, but they did not return calls seeking comment. Meanwhile, Greenpeace USA recently released a petition for more than 120 doctors urging people to resume using reusable bags.

Speaker 1: 10:05 Reusables can be used safely provided sanitation practices are in order.

Speaker 3: 10:13 Ivy Schlegel is a Greenpeace researcher based in California

Speaker 1: 10:17 As health experts, you know, both understand more and are able to help clarify for public health departments, decision makers in stores that we will see sort of a return back to what really is the new normal. And that's turning against excessive classes.

Speaker 3: 10:30 She says California public health officials have safety guidelines for the use of customers' bags in stores. The state urges shoppers to ask if they can bag their own groceries. And if not, they ask customers to take the cart to their car and bag the groceries there.

Speaker 1: 10:47 Similarly, in the same way where we might wear a face cover, or we should be wearing a face covering, you know, to protect others. Um, you know, we should just handle our own bags and just like, go ahead and bag our own groceries into reusable bags. So there's nothing again, uniquely threatening about the reusable bag. If we do those things.

Speaker 3: 11:03 San Diego County officials are asking store owners to follow state guidelines on reusable bags, but they say stores can add additional restrictions if they feel they need tighter limitations on bags that customers are bringing to the store. The California groceries association is also recommending stores follow the guidelines of state public health officials, Eric Anderson, KPBS news

Speaker 1: 11:28 KPBS mid day edition. I'm Maureen Kavanaugh, hot town summer in the city this weekend. But our weekend preview events can be enjoyed from your shady backyard or cool inside spaces. And there's a lot to choose from musical theater, watch parties, virtual visits with writers and a wrap open mic night from the old globe. We have your weekend arts plants covered. Joining me is arts editor, Julia Dixon Evans, with all the details and welcome Julia. Hi Maureen. Now first up, tell us about a watch party with a local youth musical theater company.

Speaker 4: 12:04 San Diego junior theater has put together some favorite clips from the beloved musical adaptation. I have Roald Dahl's Matilda. They're calling it a fund size version just a half hour. I love that idea of a 30 minute performance stream. It's perfect for our pandemic or technology ravaged attention spans. And I watch party means that you can kind of chat along with other viewers kind of like a tune in moment. This performance just wrapped up auditions and callbacks when the shutdowns hit. So it was originally scheduled for late April, and this is a great way to experience some of the play. It's a relatively new play, but it's a classic story. And the songs have already become hits. At least in my house like the anthemic revolting children

Speaker 2: 13:31 [inaudible]

Speaker 1: 13:31 It was from revolting children from Matilda San Diego. Junior theater is fun size rendition of Matilda streams. Tonight at seven on Facebook live up next. There's a special local art auction going on right now. It might not be the see and be seen gala atmosphere of a classic art auction. But Julia, tell us a little bit about why it's important

Speaker 4: 13:55 Through the blue is a project put together by a faculty in San Diego. State's visual art department, along with bread and salt gallery. And it's a benefit auction for build America, which directly works in that [inaudible] neighborhood of Tijuana. The neighborhoods historically struggled with poverty and COVID has hit it really hard. Build America works to build homes in that neighborhood. And they've been serving the communities basic needs to food and necessities.

Speaker 1: 14:23 Who are some of the artists involved.

Speaker 4: 14:25 You picked artists with some connection to San Diego state, like faculty, alumni and current students. And it's surprising how many amazing locally artists actually have a connection. There's Griselda Rossa, who has a piece in the auction clan Swanger Anna O'Kane and Annie Buckley and dozens more. There's about 38 pieces in the show. Some of them are priced as low as 50 or a hundred dollars. And a few as of this morning still don't have any bids through the

Speaker 1: 14:52 Blue art auction continues online through Monday night, the revised San Diego writers festival has the second installment of their virtual summer festival days series on Saturday. So what can we expect?

Speaker 4: 15:07 Yeah, just in its second year, the San Diego writers' festival had to do some major gear shifting the chime, pull up this year's event. It was originally scheduled for early April, these four separate summer festival days each have a theme and a variety of programming performances, workshops, and keynotes available to live stream for free. And this Saturday is the second. And the theme is for the love of storytelling and it focuses on craft sessions. But for those of you looking for more entertainment than craft and writing instruction, poet Gil SOTU, who was just on mid day this week, we'll kick off the day at 10:00 AM with a spoken word performance. And I also recommend the screening and Q and a for a powerful local short film called Isabel, which is based on a true local story. And that's it, 11:45 AM. That film is really witty, but still had me in tears. It's about a caregiver who finds an unlikely companion and a very salty elderly woman. And here's a clip from the trailer.

Speaker 1: 16:12 What's your name again? Uh, Taran. Well, Karen Lee that's nailed up. Well, it is, but I mean, isn't every name when you think about it. I mean, who came up with it? Isabelle, they have bullet call. Well, so whoever wrote that is probably God I've go make me a bagel. The San Diego writers' festival broadcasts on Facebook live on Saturday from 10:00 AM to 6:00 PM. Finally, what's happening at the old globe tonight.

Speaker 4: 16:47 So word up is a gathering that the old glibs arts engagement department puts on each Friday night and it features a local performer as the teaching artist. It's kind of like a part hang sesh part open mic night part master class. This week's features local rapper, Rick scales, half of the duo 18 scales. You can tune in to get to know scales and listen to his performance, learn a thing or two about rap, and even maybe try your hand at it. And that community performance segment I highly recommend. If you want to get a taste for Rick 18 skills track, anything you want, which came out in December. [inaudible]

Speaker 5: 17:50 The, am I going? Watch this

Speaker 1: 17:51 Word up. Featuring rapper Rick scales takes place tonight at 6:00 PM on the old globe art engagement Facebook page for more arts events or to sign up for the weekly arts newsletter, go to kpbs.org/arts. I've been speaking with KPBS arts editor, Julia Dixon. Evan's Julia, have a great weekend. ETA. Thanks Marine.

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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.