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COVID-19 Deaths In San Diego County Have Doubled Since Thanksgiving

 January 15, 2021 at 9:06 AM PST

Speaker 1: 00:00 As COVID surges lives are lost. Every single one of those numbers is, uh, individual Speaker 2: 00:07 That was, um, you know, a son Speaker 1: 00:09 Or a daughter, mother, or father I'm Jade Hindman with Maureen Kavanaugh. This is KPBS midday edition. We sit down with script CEO to talk about vaccinations. We clearly have enough vaccine at this point to begin to expand. And we talk about a new NPR podcast called through line, which looks at the history behind every headline. That's ahead on midday edition between just before Thanksgiving. And now COVID 19 deaths in San Diego County have nearly doubled and KPBS reporter. Claire Traeger says low income. People of color are still bearing the brunt of the pandemic. Speaker 3: 01:16 It took almost nine months for the COVID 19 deaths told to reach 1000 in San Diego County. But since then, a period of less than two months, the region has surged to more than 2000 deaths and experts expect the number to continue rising rapidly for at least another month, if not two, Speaker 2: 01:36 Probably six to eight weeks out. Dr. Speaker 3: 01:38 Tom Laurie is the chief medical officer at sharp Memorial hospital. He says a spike in infections leads to a surge in hospitalizations two weeks later, which leads to another surgeon deaths two weeks after that. So even if infections plateau in the region, which so far they have not deaths will continue to rise rapidly for weeks to come, but he does not think the rising death numbers can be attributed in any way to a lack of medical resources in the County Speaker 2: 02:08 Throughout the pandemic. We've been able to shift our resources, either move resources to patients, for patients to resources, with great efficiency. And that's one of the things that I think has been invisible to the public is we're so good at doing these things that we've been able to absorb nearly 50 to a hundred percent above what we'd normally take care of. And it hasn't looked like we'd done that much to the external side of things, Speaker 3: 02:34 But the pandemic continues to impact people disproportionately depending on their race and where they live in the County. Almost half of the people who died, lived in Eastern South County, well just 11% lived in the North coastal area. The county's Latino community is still being hit. The hardest accounting for 44% of deaths, even though Latinos make up 34% of County residents really hasn't surprised us. Nancy Maldonado is the CEO of the Chicano Federation of San Diego County. Because if you look at where those infection rates are coming from, it's, it's from a lot of these frontline jobs, a lot of these essential workers that are being exposed to the virus and that hasn't changed. Maldonado says people in these jobs are less likely to feel confident, demanding protections from their employers and people of color are often treated differently by doctors in how, uh, people's symptoms are being interpreted. Speaker 3: 03:33 And that a lot of oftentimes people are sent home, even though their symptoms would, um, indicate that they should not be sent home. These inequities contribute to a tragedy that people are still not fully grasping. Every single one of those numbers is, uh, individual that was, um, you know, a son or a daughter, mother, and father. And, and we need to get back to, to understanding that these are all human beings. And, um, unfortunately it doesn't really hit people until it impacts them directly. Low-income frontline workers are most at risk because of both their living and working conditions says Rebecca fielding, Miller and epidemiologist at UC Sandy, Speaker 4: 04:17 Your grocery store workers, or your, um, pharmacy staff, or sort of your Rite aid or CVS workers. Um, they might have also done things like gathered themselves over the holidays, but also the people coming into these public spaces are now higher risk. And so you have this dual, um, um, like two different like waves crashing into each other, Speaker 3: 04:42 Doctors and nurses working in hospitals. The daily death toll of the virus is inescapable says Laurie with sharp Memorial hospital. Speaker 2: 04:51 I'm an ICU doctor too. So I worked Saturday and Sunday. And every time I go into the ICU or into the COVID units, I'm always impressed at how calm, cool and collected they are and how, um, confident they feel that they're providing the care that's needed to their patients. That being said for the first time in, uh, in the last three to four weeks, they still have the same level of competence. They still have the same calm approach to taking care of their patients, but their morale is wearing that. And that's the biggest thing is they just are subjected to this continual onslaught of patient care that we haven't had to do. And ever in our careers, any of us in our careers, Speaker 3: 05:34 Most doctors and nurses are now vaccinated. And there is hope that numbers will begin to slowly go down. Laurie says there is still a long race that needs to be run Claire Traeger, sir, KPBS news Speaker 1: 06:01 As numbers surge this week, the CDC gave the go ahead to vaccinate people 65 and over the problem is the availability of the vaccine KPBS reporter Taron Mentos spoke with Chris van Gorder, CEO of Scripps health about how they're navigating that reality. Speaker 5: 06:19 We have been lobbying. I think a lot of people have is that we need to make this a little bit more simple. Um, as the president of the California hospital association said in a legislative briefing, we did yesterday for local legislators. She goes, there's a choice of precision or speed. Um, and it appears right now that government would like us to do more speed, get more, more vaccines and more arms. But the process we have, uh, with, by just having subset subgroups, um, like healthcare workers or firefighters or subgroups, trying to verify who they are, get them organized and, and is slowing the process down a little bit. And we think we can move much faster if we simplified it. Uh, and if we had the vaccine, so we actually made that request to the legislators yesterday morning because we'd actually asked the County and the County said, no, they were following, you know, tier one a, uh, and then by the afternoon, uh, at the press conference, they announced that we could give vaccines to 65 and older, uh, if we had any vaccine. Speaker 5: 07:18 Well, the only vaccine we've been given is for the healthcare providers. And we have just started about a week ago, the second round of vaccines for the healthcare providers. Uh, and so the vaccine we really have now is just reserved for that second dose. So, um, we'll be able to start, uh, soon. I think that there'll be small numbers of, of seniors. Um, we're trying to calculate now how much excess we will have to be able to do that, but just the scripts alone, we have over 150,000 patients that are 65 and older. And we're talking about, you know, numbers in the single thousands, you know, maybe maybe three, four or 5,000 at this point in time. So, um, we have no idea when additional, um, vaccine, uh, will be distributed to us Speaker 6: 08:01 Why don't facilities and even the County know when more vaccine is coming. There's lots of criticism at the state level that we have far more than we're actually administering. So why don't we know when more is coming? What's the gap in that process? Speaker 5: 08:18 I don't know. I wish I could answer that for you. I do know that the federal government was reserving a certain amount and that decision by health and human services to release all of the vaccine. Uh, now I have no idea how much will come to the state of California. It goes to, it really goes from the feds to the state, to the counties. And, um, and at this point I have no idea how much is coming to this, to the state, nor how much will be going to the County. And certainly not, uh, no idea of how much will come to scripts. Speaker 6: 08:47 The County has been telling us that the problem with tracking doses is how decentralized it is and that approved are getting it right from, um, the feds or the state. And it's not coming through the County. How does it go? How does it work with scripts? Where does it go through and how does it get to you? Speaker 5: 09:07 Uh, we go through the County, the County, uh, we can place, we are a pod or a point of distribution. Uh, it's our understanding that we can make a direct, um, um, application for vaccine. Uh, we haven't done it that way. It's a complicated process and we've been waiting for the County to provide it. So for example, when the initial doses came out, uh, we gave them a list of what our tier one eight was. Um, everybody, you know, all the healthcare organizations in San Diego did that and all of us were given 72% of what we had asked for. Um, and so that's the distribution at this point is through the County. Speaker 6: 09:43 You mentioned speaking with legislators, um, you spoke with them yesterday, probably right around the time that the governor made the announcement that 65, um, patient 65 years and older can actually get the vaccine. Um, what did the legislators say to you when you expressed a need for more vaccine to accomplish that? Speaker 5: 10:00 They were very supportive. They had their own ideas. Um, they, I think that we're in full agreement that we need more vaccine, uh, and we need a simpler process. And so we can speed up, you know, the whole process of vaccinating our community. So they were very supportive. Um, and they, they were receptive to our ideas. I mean, part of this, we were telling, talking about the collaboration between the hospitals in the community and frankly, the collaboration with the County and even the state. And it's been good thus far. Um, remember we're talking about, uh, the, the old analogy of trying to repair and build an airplane while we're flying it. We've never been in this situation before the country has never been in the situation that the logistics we're talking about are probably the most complicated in, in our nation's history. Um, and we have people that are desperate to get this vaccine. Speaker 5: 10:45 I, you know, I mean, the minute that announcement went out yesterday, I went, Oh my God, every doctor's office in town is going to get phone calls as well. We, which is why we put out the announcement that don't call your doctor's office because they don't have any vaccine and they don't, and they don't know when they're going to get it either. So, um, I was just communicating to two or three patients, uh, just before this call, trying to tell them that we'll keep you informed as we receive the vaccine. We will let you know. I mean, one of the things that we were trying to communicate to this, to the legislators yesterday and to the County is that the healthcare organizations in this community are very well organized. And we do vaccinations all the time. We do, you know, thousands of flu vaccinations every year. Speaker 5: 11:25 I mean, we have a very robust electronic health records, uh, so we can, you know, um, itemized individuals by age and by their clinical issues that they have. And so if the government really wanted to speed up the process, just get us the vaccine, uh, give us the very loose guidelines is what we would recommend. And we will start putting a vaccine and a lot of patients and we can get, we can categorize it by the, the sickest. Uh, we can do it by age. Um, the challenging part is when we say you want to, you're just going to give it to grocery store workers or, or some other essential workup. We have no idea how to even identify those, those individuals. And so that, that's what slows, I think the process down. So make it simple, get us the vaccine. And we're going to, we're going to stick it in a lot of arms and get the immunity up in this community. Speaker 1: 12:14 Just this morning. The Washington post reported that when federal health officials gave the okay to vaccinate people, 65 and up their reserves were already depleted. We'll have more of Taryn Mentos conversation with Chris van quarter on Monday show. Speaker 7: 12:35 This is KPBS midday edition. I'm Maureen Kavanaugh. If recent tumultuous events in the news have proved nothing else, it's made it clear that we are witnesses to history. And it also might've gotten many of us thinking, how did things ever get this way? KPBS FM takes a step toward an explanation by adding a new program to its lineup through line from NPR. The new show started as a history podcast and true to its name. It connects the events of the past with our present day lives. Joining me are the hosts of through line runned, Abdel Fattah and team Arab, Louie. And welcome to the show. Speaker 6: 13:15 Thank you so much for having us Speaker 7: 13:17 Runned. What sparked the creation of this show? Do you have your own questions about how the past shaped the present? Speaker 6: 13:24 Yeah, absolutely. Um, you know, it really goes back, um, several years, um, to when Ron, Tim and I first met when he, when he arrived at NPR to work on, um, what would become, how I built this. Um, we sat just a few feet away from each other and, um, eventually started talking and realized that, um, we both had this really kind of keen interest in, um, not only how did we get to where we are, but also how do we think we got to where we are? How are we told we got to where we are, right. Because a lot of the media coverage, which is kind of always it's 24 hours always going non-stop. Um, and that combined with kind of the history we learned in school, it just feels like it leaves, um, a lot of gaps, um, and shapes things in, in kind of certain narratives. Speaker 6: 14:14 Um, and, and we were always in our just kind of personal conversations asking, is that the whole story, is there more here, you know, you growing up in, in, um, middle Eastern households, that's a very, um, a very common topic history, especially when it comes to politics and religion. Right. Um, and so it was a very natural place for us to be having conversations. And out of that, we started thinking why isn't there more content out there that gives you kind of that, that perspective, those different perspectives, that kind of challenges the narratives we think know, um, Speaker 8: 14:52 And does it in a way that's really engaging, right? Where it's not just one person or two people talking on a mic where it's really immersing you in the really rich stories of the past Speaker 7: 15:03 Rom teen throw line gives context to issues. We kind of thought we knew about, but find out there is so much more to the story. Can you give us an example of that? Speaker 8: 15:13 So, um, I mean, examples from our show, um, there, there are a bunch, I think I can tell you some of my favorites. Um, one of them with the episode we did on the history of American police last summer after the killing of George Floyd, uh, there were a lot of questions about how the relationship between the police and, um, African-Americans in America particularly had gotten to this point. And we had been thinking about it since we started the show about doing an episode about the police, because its history is way more complex than most people probably knew. And I think the basic knowledge about, uh, police and the way the police function for most of us has been driven by American television and the experiences we've had being indoctrinated into our attitudes towards the police. But that history is, is, is much deeper. And it goes all the way back to, um, the slave patrols in the South, uh, where, you know, every young man was conscripted into basically, uh, the service, which set a certain precedent. Speaker 9: 16:12 The slave patrol statute from Louisiana in 1835, it declares that slave patrols are to arrest any slave or slaves, whether with, or without a permit who may be caught in the woods or forest with any fire or torch, which slave or slaves thus arrested shall be subjected to corporal punishment, not exceeding 30 stripes. So you can hear in that early legislation, part of the concern is, is an uprising, um, is arson is the fear that's leis will burn things down and the responsibility, not of what we would later expect due process, um, or what a white property owners were entitled to in the bill of rights, but in fact, immediate corporal punishment. So the tying together early on, uh, the surveillance, the deputization, essentially of all white men to be police officers or in this case, slave patrollers, and then to dispense corporal punishment, uh, on the scene are all baked in, uh, from the very beginning Speaker 8: 17:23 That was illuminating for me. And I think that it really drew out a history that many of us just didn't think about or know that much about and put in context, the current kind of tensions between citizens and the police in America Speaker 7: 17:36 And the events of the past few days alone must have raised so many questions for you to explore. Can you tell us about some of the historical connections you've had on your mind or I'm team? Yeah, this is a, I mean, this has Speaker 8: 17:50 Been causing me to lose sleep the last couple of nights, kind of wrenching over my mind. What, um, through liner generally, what kind of pop history can offer in this moment. And I have to be honest, I think we're in really unprecedented times in some ways, but with that said, I do think there's space right now to tell us a larger historical story about a trend line that has pushed us to this moment where we're seeing such anger from so many segments of our society and such tension. Um, that's spilling out into the streets and how dangerous the kind of current moment is in terms of the economic instability. We're seeing coupled with a pandemic, um, coupled with real struggle and confusion out there. And it feels like a very chaotic moment. We have an episode coming up about chaos and how humans deal with chaos historically. Speaker 8: 18:38 Um, and some examples to that. Um, but that's not maybe quite right for this moment. I think some of the trends, as I said, really revolve around economics and the kind of income inequality situation in United States and how that's evolved over time to push us in a place. But it's in a place where the country does feel very divided and it feels sometimes like we live in different universes. So we're really trying to figure out how we respond to this moment, but I have to be honest, it's really tough. It's a really tough moment in that sense. Speaker 7: 19:06 I think a lot of people agree with you. I've been speaking with Rhonda Abdel Fattah and [inaudible] are a bluey, the hosts of through line, which debuts Sunday morning at 10 on KPBS FM. Thank you both. I appreciate it. Speaker 8: 19:20 Thanks so much for having us. Thank you.

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Between just before Thanksgiving and now, COVID-19 deaths in San Diego County have spiked to more than 2,000. Plus, the CDC gave the go-ahead to vaccinate people 65 and over. Scripps CEO Chris Van Gorder said, the problem is the availability of the vaccine. Then, NPR’s ‘Throughline’ is coming to KPBS-FM. In the weekly one-hour narrative series, hosts Rund Abdelfatah and Ramtin Arablouei tackle the history behind today's headlines, and take the listener back in time to understand the present.