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California To Open Vaccinations To Everyone 16 And Older

 March 26, 2021 at 9:45 AM PDT

Speaker 1: 00:00 Vaccine availability allows eligibility to expand. Next month, Speaker 2: 00:05 We are in a little bit of a time crunch against these variants. So I think it's the right time to open things up a little bit more. Speaker 1: 00:12 I'm Maureen Kavanaugh. This is KPBS mid day to day Challenges of reopening San Diego public schools. It's been more than a year and I just can't wait for them to get back. Traditional art forms, take a modern spin in our weekend preview that's ahead on midday edition. Speaker 3: 00:40 Yeah. Speaker 1: 01:00 The way to get vaccinated just got shorter in California, adults 50 and up can get appointments starting April 1st. And then what used to be dreaded tax day, April 15th is the day all California in 16 and up become eligible for a COVID vaccination and announcing the changes. Governor Newsome said the state is expected to get a steadily increasing supply of vaccines up to 3 million doses a week that will allow vaccination sites to book more appointments. And the hope is more vaccinations means less time for the COVID variants circulating throughout the state to cause another spike in cases, San Diego County supervisor Nathan Fletcher told KPBS yesterday that while the increase in supply is a step in the right direction, much work still needs to be done in the statewide vaccination effort. Speaker 2: 01:50 We know our allocation for next week is about now it's about 15% higher than what we got this week. So it's trending in the right direction, but 15% is not enough to alleviate the real stress on the system right now. And so, you know, what it just tells me is that the state is very confident that the supplies are going to significantly increase. Uh, and I know for San Diego that cannot come soon enough Speaker 1: 02:11 And joining me now is Dr. Christian Ramers of family health centers of San Diego. Dr. Ramers is also on San Diego county's clinical vaccine advisory panel. Dr. Ramers welcome back to the show. Thank you. Good to be with you now, hundreds of thousands of people in San Diego have now been added to the ranks of people eligible to get vaccinated, do you think we're ready to handle that number? Speaker 2: 02:33 Yeah, I think it's a balance, you know, we've, we've tried to proceed through these stages and phases in a really orderly way and really direct the vaccine to those that are most vulnerable. But as you just heard, the supply is increasing and we are in a little bit of a time crunch against these variants. Um, and so we just want to, you know, make access a little bit wider and understandably there will be a new crush of people trying to get vaccines. And although the supply is better, there is a little bit of a bottleneck in terms of getting scheduled. So, um, I think it's the right time to open things up a little bit more. And then we always always ask people's patients, uh, as they try to make appointments and get vaccinated. Speaker 1: 03:13 It's been difficult for eligible people to get an appointment for a vaccination. So will the increased supply that San Diego was getting make that easier, even with so many more people? Speaker 2: 03:26 Um, well in some cases the supply is not necessarily the limiting factor. It's the actual personnel that are needed to administer the vaccine. So, uh, the supply certainly does help. Uh, what happened with this last phase in phase one C with underlying conditions is a lot of the vaccination sites shifted into actual doctor's offices. Um, so I think the message to the public really should be, you know, talk to your own healthcare provider. Uh, keep in mind, there are other venues that you can get vaccinated if you're not able to get an immediate appointment such as some of these County sites, um, as well as in, in local pharmacies. So multiple pathways to get vaccinated. People do have to be smart shoppers though, and try to get an appointment. And there are now entities that are helping those that are less technologically savvy to go ahead and get appointments as well. Speaker 1: 04:13 What are those entities? Can you give us an example? Speaker 2: 04:16 Well, there's a couple of nonprofits. I think San Diego vaccine angels is one of them that I've heard of other volunteers trying to help people that have limited technology access to get appointments. Speaker 1: 04:26 Now, as we see eligibility expand, are there any safeguards in place to ensure that those with the highest need will get their shot? Speaker 2: 04:34 It's a really good question, Maureen, because of course we have not vaccinated absolutely 100% of all the prior phases. And so what we don't want to have happen is this huge crush of patients that are trying to get appointments and sort of pushing out others. Um, and we also know there are several equity neighborhoods as we call them where the vaccination rates have been relatively lower. So simultaneously as we're increasing supply and opening up more eligibility, we also need to be doing additional efforts to target certain neighborhoods. For example, 91, one three, uh, the zip code of Barrio. Logan is a, is a region where there have been relatively low vaccination rates. And so family health centers is doing a really specific targeted effort, including even door to door knocking to have those conversations and get people off the fence. If they're still a little bit hesitant, uh, and get the more vulnerable populations vaccinated. So we're doing a lot of things at once opening up the eligibility and also continuing to target vulnerable neighborhoods. Speaker 1: 05:29 The governor said that family members who show up with a person who has an appointment for a vaccine can also get vaccinated, but then local health centers walked that back and said, everyone needs an appointment. What are you hearing about that? Speaker 2: 05:42 Well, we have hundreds of vaccinators throughout San Diego County. So it's hard to know exactly what everybody's doing at the same time, but I think what you hear in that, in that discussion is the urgency to try to get as many people protected as possible. And that really has do with these variants. It was a little bit alarming to hear that we have the variant from Brazil already in San Diego, especially because one of the two cases had no travel history at all. And we know that these variants, particularly the 1351 from South Africa really has reduced activity of the vaccines against them. Uh, and so what we need to do is, is really prevent, spread and really get as many people protected as possible. We think that's a sort of 75% number, and we know that about 31% of people in San Diego have received their first dose. So I think that reflects a little bit of the urgency to really not miss that opportunity to vaccinate somebody. I can't speak for all different providers. People are doing kind of different things on the ground. Speaker 1: 06:36 Along with the variance. There's also concerned about a spring break surge. Do you think that's likely Speaker 2: 06:42 What we've seen throughout the pandemic is every time that we have increased interaction with each other, whether it's changing the rules in restaurants or gyms, um, or, uh, you know, big events like, uh, holidays or, um, uh, we've seen 4th of July and the Christmas holidays and everything. There is more human interaction in, there are more cases what's a little bit different is we're going into this, having protected most of our highly vulnerable people, such as those over age 65. And so what we're seeing clinically is more young. People are showing up with infection. Now it's less likely to lead to hospitalization and death, uh, but it still perpetuates the chain of transmission. So yes, I do expect that. We'll see a little bit of a bump in cases. Speaker 1: 07:21 I've been speaking with Dr. Christian Ramers of family health centers of San Diego. Dr. Ramers as always. Thank you very much. Speaker 2: 07:29 Thank you so much for having me Speaker 1: 07:34 More than a year after classrooms. First closed San Diego County school districts are starting to reopen for in-person instruction, KPBS education reporter, Joe Hong explains the different reopening strategies in the region's largest districts. Speaker 4: 07:50 Ashley Lewis is a parent of two students at ocean beach elementary school for the past year. She's been juggling childcare and her own work, but now she finally sees the light at the end of the tunnel, but she knows that doesn't mean things will be going back to normal anytime soon. Speaker 2: 08:04 And in the past, we would all gather together on the blacktop before school and listen to the morning announcements and all the parents would have their coffee and we would chat. And it was this real center of our community. And now we won't have that, Speaker 4: 08:15 That said, she's grateful that San Diego unified school district is starting part-time in-person instruction on April 12th. Speaker 2: 08:22 It's been more than a year and I just can't wait for them to get back. Speaker 4: 08:25 Diego unified schools will offer three hours of in-person instruction per day. Students will be on campus either two or four days. Each week elementary students will be able to stay on campus for another two hours. Each day to work independently, middle and high schoolers can stay for one extra hour. Richard Brown is the president of the San Diego unified school board. Speaker 2: 08:44 Everybody will be wearing masks and you know, we've got all the masks, all the PPE we've gone through and improve the ventilation in all of our classrooms, which is, you know, maybe the most important strategy because we know that COVID isn't is an error based Speaker 4: 09:01 How many days per week students can be on campus will depend on the physical distancing rules and on the number of students who want to come back per the district's agreement with the teacher's union, students will be required to sit six feet apart. This despite new guidance issued by the centers for disease control and prevention last week, that allows for three feet of distancing and elementary classrooms. As of now, the district is sticking to six feet, but it will drop the requirement to five feet in certain situations. If it means one or two additional students can join the classroom. Kesha Borden is the president of the teacher's union. Speaker 2: 09:32 Our biggest concern is safety. Um, and so if a large number of students in a classroom want to return those students would then be split into two groups. Um, and those students could come back two days a week. Um, if there's low numbers and the entire class can fit safely in a classroom, then they could come back for days. Speaker 4: 09:54 But Louis, the ocean beach parent says the district should renegotiate its agreement with the teacher's union to allow three feet of distancing, especially if it means students can be on campus four days a week. Speaker 2: 10:04 It's very frustrating to me that they can't reevaluate at this point and say like, look like, you know, the CDC has said, this is safe. Why can't we do three feet of spacing? And let everybody come back, who wants to come back for four days a week? Why can't we do that? Wow, Speaker 4: 10:20 Reopening timelines are different. The majority of school districts in the County have plans that are similar to those that San Diego unified Chula Vista elementary school district, the state's largest K through six district is expecting about 60% of its students to come back for in-person instruction. Starting April 12th, students will be split into morning and afternoon cohorts and they'll stay on campus for two and a half hours. Each day. Francisco Escobedo is the superintendent at the district Speaker 2: 10:45 Would believe that as the situation continues to improve, more, parents would want to have their kids go in person. And we'll definitely try to be flexible. As long as we have the capacity we want to, we would definitely want the students in an in-person environment. Speaker 4: 11:06 Escobedo said, teachers will try to focus on physical and social activities in the classroom to make up for a year of excessive screen time as for the next school year, which starts in July. He's hopeful that most students will be back on campus. Speaker 2: 11:17 I think there might be some families that will stick. We'll still want, uh, a distance learning component. And we'll, we'll, we'll definitely there. If the demand is there, we will set that up for them. But I would love to have as, as a robust in person, um, approach to education as possible, Speaker 4: 11:41 Joe Hong KPBS news. Speaker 2: 11:48 This is KPBS midday edition. I'm Maureen Kavanaugh in arts. This weekend, Speaker 1: 11:54 You have plenty of options to put a younger living, spin on some traditional art forms. There's a concert of piano music from living composers and I conic nineties theatrical prequel to Othello. You thought, and a brand new ballet joining me is KPBS arts editor and producer Julia Dickson Evans with the details. Welcome Julia. Speaker 5: 12:17 Hi Maureen. Thanks for having me. Let's Speaker 1: 12:19 Start with a newer play, which features Othello. It's a prequel, but in modern times, and it actually focuses on his first wife, Billy, tell us more. Speaker 5: 12:30 Yeah. So this is a filmed stage production of the Coronado Playhouse and they asked director Candace crystal to pitch and director work for the season. And she chose Harlem duet by the black Canadian playwright, Janet Sears, and it functions as a kind of unstuck in time prequel to Shakespeare's Othello. And here's a scene with Othello played by Malakai Beasley and Danielle bunch as Billy Speaker 3: 12:59 I'll take them on a cultural field trip that I've longed for the sanctuary black boutiques bookstore groceries filled with black doctors and dentists, black banks, black streets teaming with loud black people, listening to loud, jazz and Reagan. And there is a Rose in Spanish, Oh, Rosen, black and Spanish. Speaker 5: 13:35 So the script for Harlem duet mostly focuses on this new non cannon character. Billy kind of meant to be a fellow's first wife and it's about the messy unraveling of their love and just a really great opportunity to recenter this reverence of Othello from a black woman's lens. Okay. Speaker 1: 13:54 Okay. Then the Coronado Playhouse presents an online production of Harlem duet. Now through April 18th and in classical music, you have a recommendation for a free solo concert by pianist, Melissa Evans, Tiara. What caught your eye about this show? Speaker 5: 14:12 Yeah, so this local piano performer, she put together a lineup featuring only living composers. She built the program around a work called compassion by the Manhattan based composer, Julia Wolfe. And this piece is about witnessing the twin towers fall on nine 11 from her apartment, the works jarring it's abrasive, but also kind of beautiful. And it it's structured in a format that has really subtle melodic movement, but it's unforgettable nominal. Speaker 3: 14:51 [inaudible] Speaker 6: 15:06 [inaudible], Speaker 5: 15:07 That's an earlier recording of Julia Wolf's compassion. Melissa Evans. Tara is a fantastic performer and she'll also discuss each piece and a pre-show talk. Speaker 1: 15:17 Melissa Evans, Tara performs a concert of classic piano works by living composers in a free livestream concert that Saturday at 11:00 AM on her website, the San Diego museum of art opens their 20, 21 young art exhibition today. And what can we expect from that? Speaker 5: 15:36 Yeah. So this is an annual juried exhibition for students in kindergarten through 12th grade. The theme this year is the environment and sustainability and some are really thoughtful portraits. Some are absolutely stunning and detailed. All of them are brimming with talent and wisdom. It makes me inspired and hopeful for the future Speaker 1: 15:55 Young, our 2021, my world, our planet is on view today through May 9th at the San Diego museum of art. And there's a powerful new ballet by a notable former Sandy Yagan choreographer tell us about wild act one, Speaker 5: 16:12 Jeremy McQueen was born and raised in Southeast San Diego and he studied with junior theater. He attended San Diego school of creative and performing arts as well. He grow up to move to New York city and he started the black Iris project, which is a new ballet company dedicated to telling black stories and celebrating black bodies in dance. This work wild act. One is inspired partly by max the protagonist in the children's book, where the wild things are. And also with photography of incarcerated youth of color. I spoke to McQueen this week about what this ballet means to him. Speaker 6: 16:49 This work to me, um, really amplifies the idea that the way our bodies might be perceived or incarcerated in so many different facets throughout life, our minds and our imaginations can never be incarcerated. This Valley in particular is a call to action specifically for young black and Brown men, to be able to see the beauty of their lives and the beauty of telling their stories. No matter what they've been through, Speaker 5: 17:18 The story is of a kid celebrating his 14th birthday behind bars. And it's about that power of imagination and the work features projected animation and photography on these three walls around a cell, kind of like in where the wild things are, where he says the walls become the world all around the work also has a really vibrant soundtrack with work by pop and R and B artists and contemporary composers. It's part of a four-part part work, but this installation go in the vault in just about a week. So don't miss it. You can rent it online. Jeremy Speaker 1: 17:55 McQueen's filmed ballet wild act. One is viewable on demand. Now through April 4th, for more arts picks or to sign up for Julia's weekly KPBS arts newsletter go to kpbs.org/arts. And I've been speaking with KPBS arts producer, Julia Dixon Evans. Julia. Thank you. Speaker 5: 18:16 Thanks Maureen. Have a great weekend.

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California is expanding vaccine eligibility to anyone 50 and over starting April 1, and anyone 16 and up on April 15. Plus, San Diego Unified students will return to campus either two or four days a week in April, depending on the number of families who want to participate in in-person instruction. And in San Diego weekend arts: SDMA’s Young Art exhibition, a virtual piano concert, Coronado Playhouse’s latest production, The Black Iris Project, “Contralto” and “A Shimmer of Strings.”