Play Live Radio
Next Up:
Available On Air Stations

FDA Authorizes Pfizer COVID Vaccine For Young Teens

 May 11, 2021 at 11:31 AM PDT

Speaker 1: 00:00 12 to 15 year olds are one step closer to getting vaccinate. Speaker 2: 00:04 So there's many different benefits, not even including the fact that they can go out with their friends, if they're all immunized. Okay. Speaker 1: 00:11 I'm Jade Heintzman with Maureen Kavanaugh. This is KPBS midday edition Fit tests are supposed to be free. So why are people being charged? Speaker 3: 00:29 Charged? We have been speaking with providers who say, we just don't have the infrastructure to collect insurance information and bill insurance companies plus, Speaker 1: 00:39 But the police budget and how funds will be spent and a proposed plan aims to reduce air pollution from Portside businesses. That's ahead on midday edition Speaker 1: 01:01 The food and drug administration approved usage of the Pfizer vaccine on children ages 12 to 15, expanding the eligibility of vaccine recipients. Now its final approval is up to the CDC vaccine advisory committee who will hold a meeting tomorrow to review usage of that shot for this new age group, the development comes as a welcome sign for parents and guardians concerned about the effects of COVID-19 on their children. Joining me to discuss the latest on this expanded eligibility is Dr. John Bradley director of the division of infectious disease at Rady children's hospital. Dr. Bradley. Welcome. Thank you so much. So when will vaccinations for this newly expanded age group be available in San Diego County? You think Speaker 2: 01:45 So tomorrow, as you pointed out, the FDA authorized use of vaccine, it's not a full license shirt that will come later just like for the adult vaccine, but after the FDA authorizes something, they just say it's safe and effective. Then it's up to another group to recommend its use. And that's where the CDC and their advisory committee on immunization practices comes into play. And they're meeting tomorrow afternoon, East coast, time, morning, Pacific time. So we should get the vote of the committee to recommend that the CDC recommend this vaccine for 12 to 15 year olds by early afternoon in San Diego Speaker 1: 02:27 As a pediatric infectious disease specialist. Are you hopeful at this news? Speaker 2: 02:32 I'm much better than hopeful. I'm really happy as you know, kids tend to do okay with growing a virus, they don't get hospitalized at the same rates. And thank goodness we've had not one single death of a child in San Diego since the beginning of the pandemic, but kids can spread it. And as you know, probably half the kids who, who get the infection and can spread it, have no symptoms, which of course just completely took us all by surprise. So in order to get COVID under control in San Diego County and the rest of the state and the United States, we need enough people immunized so that if a virus is introduced from somewhere else, it doesn't continue to spread. That's the herd immunity concept. And of course the other very important goal is that if kids don't get infected, they can't spread it to grandparents and other members of the family who, who are more at risk of serious disease and hospitalization. So there's many different benefits, not even including the fact that they can go out with their friends, if they're all immunized. Speaker 1: 03:42 So what did the clinical trials of the Pfizer vaccine indicate about its effect on children Speaker 2: 03:48 Pfizer for this particular FDA authorization included a subset of children between 12 and 16 years of age in their vaccine trials. So they have collected data on a thousand kids, that age group who got a vaccine and compared them with a thousand kids who just got saltwater injections, placebo, and then these kids went out in the community and then you look to see if the vaccine protected these adolescents. And they also of course have full information on safety because they're, they're checking, uh, all of the standard blood tests, uh, symptoms of disease, all of that, uh, as part of a routine post immunization safety check, and the adolescents were just as protected as adults may be even more of, of the thousand kids that got the vaccine. There were no cases of COVID in the thousand kids that did not get the vaccine. There were 16 cases of COVID Speaker 1: 05:00 And you touched on this, but so what are the possible side effects for this age group as a result of getting this vaccine? Speaker 2: 05:07 So most of the side effects as, as you know, for adults will happen either immediately within the first couple of days. And of course the same cautions for kids we're, we're sharing as cautions for adults. So if you, if you're highly reactive to all kinds of shots and you may be allergic to one of the components of the vaccine, we really don't want you to get this vaccine without talking to your, to your healthcare provider. Uh, and then long-term side effects generally pop up over the first, uh, six to eight weeks where you have persisting muscle fatigue. Uh, you just, you have some reaction to the vaccine and you don't get over it. We are going to continue to look at the multi system, inflammatory syndrome in children, uh, risk that problem. But most of those kids, as you probably know, will get their disease within four to eight weeks of getting the actual infection. And there doesn't appear to be any kid with MIRC following the vaccine. So we think that the benefits of the vaccine and preventing MIFC are far greater than any potential for the vaccine to cause that side effect Speaker 1: 06:17 Expansion of this age group is a huge step towards the nation's overall efforts to inoculate against the virus. At the same time, this news comes as vaccination rates are slowing across the nation. Is this a sign that we're getting closer to a majority of the population being vaccinated? Speaker 2: 06:33 Yeah, I think it's a, it's a reflection that there's probably a group of people who aren't particularly interested in getting vaccinated for, for whatever reason. And we just need to connect with them more. I don't know that we've reached herd immunity. And as a matter of fact, in, in parts of the United States where there are no longer mask mandates and people are all getting together, the virus is spreading, which is proof that there is no herd immunity yet. And with the new [inaudible] virus, that's now predominant in California, uh, in San Diego that spreads more effectively. So the original prediction that if we had 70% of the people immune, either from vaccine or the infection that the virus wouldn't be able to spread with this new, more contagious mutant, that number is probably higher 75 to 80%. And we're clearly not there, but we need to be so, so I think the slow down has many, many reasons. And I think there are some really well-meaning people who are just cautious. And now that there's a hundred million doses of these MRN vaccines that are out there and safety data on these, I don't think people need to be worried anymore. Speaker 1: 07:46 I've been speaking with Dr. John Bradley director of the division of infectious diseases at Rady children's hospital. Dr. Bradley, thank you so much for joining us. Speaker 2: 07:55 Thanks very much. Appreciate the opportunity to chat with you. [inaudible] Speaker 1: 08:14 Aside from expanded eligibility and vaccinating children, like you just heard about public health experts say free COVID-19 testing is key to monitoring the pandemic going forward. So why are some people still paying hundreds of dollars for tests? I new source investigative reporter, Jill Castellano has been looking into this and joins me now, Joe, welcome. Speaker 2: 08:37 Thanks for having me Jared. Speaker 1: 08:39 So who is supposed to get the bill for COVID test? If they're supposed to be free to the public? Speaker 2: 08:45 Yeah. In many cases, the insurance companies are paying for these tests under the federal cares act. That's the way it's supposed to work in many cases. So you go a testing site, Speaker 3: 08:56 They collect your insurance information and your insurance company is required to cover the full cost of that test, leaving it free to you, to the public. And if you don't have insurance, there are many testing sites operated by the government or that work with the government to offer free tests to those individuals as well. Speaker 1: 09:14 Hmm. So then why are people paying for COVID test? Speaker 3: 09:18 Yeah, this got me really interested in the topic. When I started hearing about the hundreds of dollars people were spending considering all the free sites out there. Well, in a lot of cases, it's a matter of convenience or in other words, people feel they don't have many other options and they have to pay for a test. So some sites, the free government sites might take days to get your test results back to you. That's not good enough for some people. If they've got to meet up with a family member, as soon as possible, if they have to get back to work because they had a COVID exposure and they really need to earn that money, then they might end up paying for a COVID test. Speaker 1: 09:56 So why are these providers not billing insurance companies? Speaker 3: 10:00 Yeah, it's, it's kind of an interesting story. So in a lot of these cases, we have been speaking with providers who say, we're not worried. We just don't have the infrastructure to collect insurance information and bill insurance companies, because we would need to set up a billing department or something like that. Um, so they go ahead and just collect your money up front and then let you go and get reimbursed by your insurance company later. One of the issues with that as well, that might mean that you're out 300, $400 and you need to go and try to get that money back eventually. Speaker 1: 10:35 So is what they're doing legal. Speaker 3: 10:38 Yeah. There's no problem with this under the cares act. It's totally fine. If you are not in network with any insurance companies as a provider, you don't have to bill insurance companies. Um, but as I mentioned, that can be a big hurdle for the customers who may not understand that. And may just assume that these companies are going to collect their insurance information. It can be a real shock when they get a big bill. Speaker 1: 11:01 Yeah. And you've mentioned this a bit, but what kind of bills are people who get the test getting stuck with? Speaker 3: 11:07 I've seen bills up to $400 in San Diego County and kind of all in between $0 and $400, depending on the type of test, how fast they needed that test result back. The reason why I've been able to gather this level of information is I knew source actually commissioned a survey of local testing providers. And we had more than 50 participate in that survey. So we were able to gather a lot of information about these prices. Speaker 1: 11:34 Are people having any luck getting reimbursed for COVID testing charges by their insurance provider? Speaker 3: 11:40 Yes. Some are having a lot of luck because it is required ultimately in many cases that insurance pay those costs. So if you are able to navigate the system and go submit that bill to your insurance, it very likely will be covered Speaker 1: 11:55 In your story. You mentioned the COVID clinic, how many test providers are billing customers upfront like that one? Speaker 3: 12:02 Well, in the survey that we did, we found 13 providers that were not accepting insurance in any cases, no matter what. And adding on top of that, there were another 10 providers that were only accepting insurance in some cases. And those can be especially tricky for the public to understand what cases are that. Well, sometimes it can be some tests are covered by insurance, but other tests are not. Speaker 1: 12:28 And how might this billing practice impact whether or not someone goes through the trouble of getting tested? Speaker 3: 12:34 Yeah. The experts that I spoke with are pretty concerned about these high prices, because it could discourage people from seeking testing. If you're facing a really big cost, it could be a sticker. Shock is what they call it. Um, or if you actually do get tested and the bill is higher than you expect, you may not get tested in the future. And that could be a real problem for the pandemic. Moving forward. If we have fewer people getting tested, it's hard to monitor infection levels. It's hard to understand the state of COVID-19 in the community. What do you mean? Speaker 1: 13:05 I recommend someone do if they are trying to get a test and they're being charged, Speaker 3: 13:10 I would recommend having some agency and knowing your rights. So you can always ask people why you're being charged. You can ask, would you mind trying to bill my insurance for me? So I don't have to pay this cost? If the answer is no, you should make sure you have a receipt. You should make sure you have documentation of your visit and you should definitely go and submit that claim to your insurance company. Even if it's a headache, it's probably worth it because it likely will be covered. Speaker 1: 13:38 People go to get tested and avoid this kind of hassle. Speaker 3: 13:41 The County run sites and the state run sites are really good options that are free. If those aren't going to get you the results fast enough, there are pharmacies like CVS and Walgreens. There are federally qualified health centers. If you start looking around, you'll find many good options. Speaker 1: 13:59 I've been speaking with a new source, investigative reporter, Jill Castillano Jill. Thank you. Thanks so much. You can read more about COVID test I new source is an independently funded nonprofit partner of KPB. Speaker 3: 14:14 Yes. Speaker 1: 14:20 You're listening to KPBS midday edition. I'm Jade Hindman with Maureen kavanah. California has a new attorney general Rob Bonta. He was picked by governor Newsome for the job and confirmed by the legislature. After Javier Bissera moved on to a cabinet position in the Biden administration, some things to know about Fanta before becoming attorney general. He served in the state assembly representing Oakland and Bonta is a progressive and has championed criminal justice reforms like ending cash bail. The 48 year old Yale grad is also the first Filipino American to serve as the state's attorney general, the California report hosts all Gonzalez talk to Bonta about some of the issues he'll face in his new job and what he hopes to accomplish Speaker 4: 15:05 Being the people's attorney and working to write historic wrongs and a fight with justice and help people. And it takes a lot of forms. But the general frame that I have is helping, uh, and fighting for the little guy. And, uh, that includes things like making sure that multinational corporations are not hurting families or that folks in our criminal justice system are being treated unfairly, um, and are given a second chance when they deserve one. And I, in this moment, making sure that our community is that the API community that's under full is supported and that perpetrators of hate are held accountable and victims are assisted to heal. Speaker 1: 15:48 So if those are the big ideals you stand for, what specific policy steps do you want to take in your job as California's attorney general Speaker 4: 15:56 It'll include efforts and initiatives and, um, uh, deliberate unintentional acts to address hate through the different levers that the California attorney general has. It will include actions against, um, polluters who are hurting communities that live at the intersection of pollution and poverty. It will include implementing AB 1506, a bill that I coauthored that provides that the attorney general shall conduct outside the RO investigations of officer involved shootings that results in the death of unarmed California. And it will take the form of other efforts to protect consumers and generally making sure that folks are following the law. So that's what I'm setting out to do. That's what I've told people I'm going to do. And that's what I expect to be reviewed based on, Speaker 1: 16:55 As you just brought up one big issue, you're going to be confronting as attorney general is officer-involved shootings under California legislation known as AB 1506. Your office has the responsibility to investigate police shootings that result in the death of civilians. So what are you going to be doing to make sure that more lives can be saved when things go very wrong between police officers and members of the public Speaker 4: 17:19 Right now, I think we're really in a place where in too many places, in too many ways, for so many reasons trust between our communities and law enforcement has been lost and you can't have trust without accountability. And it's important that we have a system of accountability when transgressions have been made and, and the laws that violate it. And so it's my intent to stand up and officer involved, shooting division in the attorney General's office pursuant to AB 1506, that will be a model for the rest of the nation that will do it right and do it well and be thorough and impartial and fair and comprehensive in every investigation that we're involved with. So California, um, the, you know, the, the person being investigated, uh, the individuals, you know, the family members who are mourning because they've lost a loved one, all have faith and trust in that system that we stand up Speaker 5: 18:22 That was California attorney general, Rob Bonta speaking Speaker 6: 18:25 With the California reports, host Saul Gonzalez. It's going to take time. That's the word from San Diego city leaders, as they consider the task of shifting funding away from the police department to social services and other public safety programs, some city council members are calling for a comprehensive analysis of how the police budget could be changed and funding priorities shifted. There's not enough time for that to take place before next year's city budget is due. Although council members say they could take some initial steps. Now joining me is San Diego union Tribune reporter David Garrick. David, welcome. Speaker 5: 19:09 Thanks for having me who Speaker 6: 19:11 Is calling for this comprehensive analysis, Speaker 5: 19:15 Uh, four council members, at least, uh, you know, some council members didn't really comment, but they seem to sort of tacitly agree. Uh, but Monica, Montgomery staff, who's head of the city councils, public safety committee, Sean ELO Rivera, uh, Nan Jola kava were sort of the loudest voices at a, at a budget hearing recently. Speaker 6: 19:32 And what would an analysis like that include? Speaker 5: 19:36 Well, um, it's, it's interesting sometimes how things work out the head of the police labor union Jack Schafer is sort of given the most detailed description we've ever heard, but we still haven't heard exactly what it would be, but it would be an analysis of what functions the police do right now would be better handled by social service agencies, homeless providers, maybe people who specialize in mental illness, because I think sort of the general argument of defund the police, which is a very complicated term, that can mean a lot of different things to a lot of different people. But the general idea is that there are certain things that the police are not as good at as other people would be, especially social service providers and that we should shift some of the police's duties to those groups. Speaker 6: 20:19 And is that what the head of the police union is saying? Jack Shaffer, that perhaps they should consider that? Speaker 5: 20:25 Um, you know, I think Jack's point was you shouldn't do anything major. You shouldn't do anything without thinking it through his argument was you need to make a thorough study before you do something, maybe to gain political points or to Cate into political pressure. You need to treat this like an academic exercise, like something that you've really have analyzed in every possible way. And he had another caveat that even though you think you may end up spending less, some of the things that are maybe wrong with policing may cost you more. You may have to spend more money for training. You may have to spend more money on something called neighborhood policing, where you put police into some of the low income areas and have them sort of build relationships with community leaders. That's a way to reduce crime, but it doesn't cost less. It actually costs more. Speaker 6: 21:10 Now besides these three or four council members does shifting funds away from the police have a like overall support from the city council. Speaker 5: 21:19 You know, it's interesting to ask that they've had five new members starting in December. Um, last spring when this sort of became a national issue, the council was unified and not wanting to do anything aggressive, like just eliminate their police department as some cities considered. Uh, and it says where it takes small incremental steps, sort of like the ones they're talking about now with these five new members who all came in in December, you know, the debate really hasn't come up until this past few days. Um, and it appears that you have folks who want to take a, an aggressive look at potentially doing that. And the other folks didn't say they were against it, but they haven't really taken a vocal position. So I guess the answer is I'm not certain, Speaker 6: 21:59 You know, as you mentioned, activists started advocating for defunding some police budgets about a year ago. What has San Diego done in that time? Anything Speaker 5: 22:09 They've made some changes in police procedures with the carotid restraint, and they've created an office of race and equity to study issues that, uh, sort of involved racial disparities, which would include police. So those are the sort of the, the main issues. Um, they've increased funding for gang prevention, but there are sort of stuff that's on the edges as opposed to in the center, you would argue. And that's the one thing that the independent budget analyst for the city noted that this past week that a majority of the council members in their a budget requests asked the mayor to explore shifting some police funding to other areas. And the mayor really it's the mayor. Todd, Gloria really didn't do that. Maybe he's planning to do it soon, but in the initial budget he laid out about two weeks ago. There really isn't any suggestion of shifting money that goes to the police department now to be spent elsewhere. Speaker 6: 22:58 You may or Gloria has been supported by police unions in the past, in his political career. Is that a factor in how swiftly any reforms will move? Speaker 5: 23:08 I think a critic could say that, that it would be, I don't know. I guess we'll have to see how it plays out. Certainly labor unions have a lot of power, but this is also an issue that has so much sunshine on it. That, I mean, it's, it's one where you can't have a union, you know, give you a bunch of money in a dark closet and then no one notices what you do, whatever Todd Gloria does on this issue, everyone will see what happened. And you think he probably has to do what the community support. Speaker 6: 23:33 As you say, there's still a push by advocates like council member, Monica, Montgomery step to make some small changes in the budget this year, along the lines of perhaps shifting some funding. What changes is she talking about? Speaker 5: 23:48 No, there haven't been specifics. And I would say Shawnee lower Rivera, her colleagues, maybe even a more the leader of that charge. They, I think they all agree. The big changes can't come now because we haven't studied them thoroughly enough, but let's try to do a few little things. And one example that Shawnee little Rivera came up with was there's a new effort of outreach with homelessness by a nonprofit downtown, uh, that he thinks is maybe a model for how to take police out of the process, or at least less than their role in the process. And have a nonprofit group take sort of a more central role. Again, you just thought that was one example of something that could become a model. So I'm guessing that we'll see as the budget is debated over the next four weeks, maybe it's some proposals like that. So it will be a small chunk of, of police work, not like the overarching one you might see in a year or two after they thoroughly study it. Speaker 6: 24:36 And what is the process involved in doing a comprehensive analysis? Is, would the council have to approve a committee? How would that proceed? Speaker 5: 24:45 Yeah, you're you're ahead of the curve there. I don't know when I haven't heard any specific discussions. If I were to compare it to the way the city typically handles things, they would probably hire it outside consultants to study what other cities have done, uh, look at for best practices across the nation and maybe the world, and then analyze the police, uh, budget, which is almost $600 million a year. And see maybe what parts of it. They even have any sort of leeway with because most of it's labor costs and, you know, unless you want to go and fire a slew of police officers, uh, you know, it's hard to shift labor costs aggressively very quickly. Speaker 6: 25:19 So what should we be looking for? What are advocates of police, uh, budget reform going to be looking for as the budget process comes to an end here in June? Speaker 5: 25:28 I think they're gonna look for some small changes. That would be more along the lines of defunding the police. And I think the big moment will be when the city announces, okay, we are going to study it. Here's how we're going to study it. Here's the goals of this study. Um, and, and so that may be that people can have confidence that the council is putting their money where their mouth is, that they truly legitimately are going to study this and consider changes as opposed to maybe saying the right things, to calm down the, the protesters and the folks who are frustrated and sort of waiting for it to die down. I believe the council genuinely wants to make change, but a critic could say, maybe they're just saying the right things, waiting for this to go away and be replaced by some other issue. Speaker 6: 26:06 I've been speaking with San Diego union Tribune, reporter David Garrick, David, thank you. Thanks for your time. The port of San Diego considers a plan today that aims to reduce the amount of pollution Portside businesses put in the air, the draft policy. However, isn't getting a warm reception from community advocates, KPBS environment reporter Eric Anderson has details. Speaker 7: 26:37 Sylvia Calzada says it was scary when her doctor first diagnosed her asthma seven years ago, when, uh, Speaker 8: 26:44 Airways shut down and then you can't breathe. That's very difficult. Then, uh, you get a lot of anxiety. Speaker 7: 26:51 Casada has lived in national city for more than two decades and her family roots there run deep. Speaker 8: 26:56 My great-grandmother lived here. My grandmother currently lives here. Speaker 7: 27:01 Cassata remembers living by paint shops and seeing trucks rumbling through her neighborhood. Speaker 8: 27:05 In various of our areas where we lived at, there was a lot of trucks passing by and we could smell that diesel, you know, popping out and, uh, that affects our, our, our bodies. And then just here in paradise Creek, there were other trucks passing by and that smoke is out there. Speaker 7: 27:23 Books are easy to find even today, they roll in and out of the ports Marine facility just about a half mile or so from [inaudible] paradise Creek home [inaudible] works with other community members to push the port to consider the impact on their neighbors. And back in February, the port ordered staff to develop something called maritime, clean air strategy, the port commission chair, Michael [inaudible] says he wanted more than just a spirited discussion in a board room. Speaker 9: 27:53 What's, what's the plan? How are we going to do this? How are we going to transition, uh, in a way that maintains all this economic activity maintains the good but limits or in some cases eliminates the negative impacts on the surrounding communities with respect to clean air Speaker 7: 28:12 Commissioner's directed staff, to put those ideas into writing. They asked for a policy that had specific measurable goals with clean air targets and the mechanisms to enforce compliance port vice president. Jason Giffen says the challenge lies in balancing two objectives, Speaker 9: 28:28 A focus effort, which is primarily the next generation of how we're going to address cleaning and being a good neighbor. While at the same time, driving for the economy of the port business at the port of San Diego, it is a essentially going to be a policy document that will set the foundation in writing in terms of what will be the ports, initiatives and strategies moving forward. Speaker 7: 28:52 But the resulting draft document got a cool reception from community advocates. The environmental health coalition, Danny Serrano says the staff recommendation falls short of what the port commissioners asked for publicly. He says, there's a lot of good language about environmental justice and clean air and the document. But Speaker 9: 29:11 When you get into the details of the AMCAS goals and objectives, you know, the meats and the document, uh, it is clear that is really inadequate and will not significant will not sufficiently alter or change the business as usual environment at the port. Speaker 7: 29:30 Serrano says the port plan needs to be specific about goals, timelines, and how the port will get there. And his organization is pushing for aggressive goals. So Rhonda says the port to electrify its on terminal operations and expand that off terminal Speaker 9: 29:46 Develop a clean trucks program by the end of this year, 2021 with a clear and phased plan and strategies to transition 30%, uh, zero emission vehicles by 2023. And again, a hundred percent by 2030. Speaker 7: 30:02 And the port seems receptive commissioner Michael's a cat says the public concerns have been heard and the port is planning another round of public input. Speaker 9: 30:11 I think this is an example of a public agency, not just putting a document out for comment by the public and then doing what they want. Anyway, if this is an example of an agency putting a document out, we got a lot of public comment. We're going to be responsive to the, uh, to that comment. Speaker 7: 30:28 The port is expected to compile the public comments and come back to the commissioners for approval sometime this summer. So Kat says a working plan represents a huge change in port operations. Moving forward. Speaker 6: 30:40 Joining me is KPBS environment reporter Eric Anderson, Eric. Welcome. Thank you. What is it about the draft maritime clean air strategy that environmental health advocates don't like? Speaker 7: 30:54 Well, I think what they don't like in that, uh, program, that suggestion, that policy is the fact that it doesn't have all the specifics that they were looking for. They were really pushing hard to get the port to commit to timetables, to commit to, um, uh, goals that were pretty aggressive, you know, even more aggressive, uh, than state goals for electrification of some of these, uh, port vehicles. The port moves around a lot of, uh, cargo on its facilities. And right now, uh, most of those, uh, cargo moving trucks are, are diesel powered. So that creates diesel pollution. The port moves a lot of those goods in and out of those same Marine facilities on diesel trucks. And I think what environmental activists were looking at was, uh, something that was a little bit more concrete than the, than the first draft plan that the port will be looking at, um, at its meeting on Tuesday. Speaker 6: 31:55 You know, we've heard for the last several years about the goal of electrifying the terminal at the port of San Diego and the port truck electrification project, how far along have they gotten to that goal? Speaker 7: 32:08 Well, they've, uh, brought in some demonstration projects, they brought in some vehicles to see, you know, what's feasible. And I think that's part of their strategy. What they're hoping is, is because they're sort of out in front on this, uh, among, uh, the early adopters that they're hoping to get a tap into some grant money that will make it a little bit more affordable for them to do. Um, it's the customers of the port. I think that moving the, moving the freight or the items out of the port facilities, but which seems to be the big hurdle right now, uh, can you get, uh, trucks that can, that are electric that can drive 220 miles or 300 miles or 500 miles, uh, like a diesel truck. Can, can you kind of make that same cargo hauling capacity, uh, on an electric powered truck as he can on a diesel truck. And I don't think that the industry is quite there just yet, but again, those timetables are, uh, what the environmental advocates, where we're hoping for a really aggressive steps to reaching those zero emission vehicle goals. Speaker 6: 33:17 And when these longer range, uh, electric powered, uh, big hauler trucks come online, how much is that going to cost? Speaker 7: 33:27 Yeah, that's a very good question right now, from what I can tell an electric truck is much more expensive than its diesel counterpart. And I think part of that is due to the fact that they're not mass market or they're not mass made just yet. So you don't get the advantage of an economy of scale. Um, so many of those, uh, electric trucks are, are developed, uh, you know, individually you're not on an assembly line. I think once the industry and the demand for that product goes up, uh, and the industry responds by, by developing, uh, manufacturing facilities that are more efficient. Uh, then the price will come down. But again, the port its goal has been to kind of ease that financial burden, where they can by being on the cutting edge and, um, uh, trying to land grants to help cover some of those costs. Speaker 6: 34:23 Now, both the port officials you spoke with in your report, stress, the need to balance environmental concerns with strong economic activity at the port. Is there a concern that reducing pollution at the port could hurt business? Speaker 7: 34:39 Oh sure. I think that's, uh, always been, uh, always been an issue for the poor, you know, they're in the business of, uh, making the Tidelands in San Diego, a resource for the community of San Diego. And that resources kind of realized when there's a lot of economic activity, uh, on those timelines and, and, uh, in the past, I think there hasn't been the corresponding concern about potential impacts of all that economic activity. So now I think the scale is balancing a little bit and you're starting to see, um, these two goals kind of move forward in conjunction with each other. And I think that's the message that, uh, uh, pork commission chair Michael's Dukette and, uh, Jason Giffen, we're trying to give, uh, when they talk to us about this maritime, uh, strategic plan. Speaker 6: 35:34 So today the port commission looks at this maritime clear air strategy draft policy. I'm wondering how can members of the public express their concerns or ideas about the ports, clean air strategy. Speaker 7: 35:48 The port is going to take some of the suggestions that they hear at their meeting, and they're going to offer another chance for the public to comment on this plan. You can probably go to their port web page and find the different ways that you can add comment if that's something that you're interested in doing, but they want to gather more public comments so that when they gather later in the summer, they'll have a better plan. And hopefully a plan that, that everyone agrees is a good step moving forward. Speaker 6: 36:17 And I've been speaking with KPBS environment reporter Eric Anderson, Eric, thank you. Speaker 7: 36:22 Pleasure. Speaker 6: 36:29 This is KPBS midday edition. I'm Maureen Kavanaugh with Jade. Heinemann, it's been more than 40 years since refugees from the end of the Vietnam war made their new homes in America. Many stayed here in San Diego and in other parts of California, but others were sent across the country. And what was the largest resettlement effort in American history? A new novel explores what that was like for a family of so-called boat. People adjusting to a new and strange life in Louisiana. It's a story with a special significance now during Asian Pacific heritage month, and at a time when people of Asian heritage are experiencing new outbursts of racism, joining me is Eric [inaudible]. He's the author of things we lost to the water. Eric, welcome to the show. Thanks for having me. Do you have a family connection to that experience of people leaving Vietnam to resettle in America? Speaker 10: 37:25 My parents left Vietnam after the war around 1978, I would say, and they left by boat. They eventually came to a refugee camp in Indonesia, and eventually they found a way to the U S at first they settled in California, but because of family friends, they move through way to Washington DC. Speaker 6: 37:46 How much of their story is part of your novel? Speaker 10: 37:49 Partly I never really knew what my parents' story was. They're really quiet about their refugee experience with ALS growing up. They didn't want to talk about their past. So actually writing this novel was my way to explore that bigger Vietnamese refugee experience and what they could have possibly been through Speaker 6: 38:07 You. Uh, describe in the novel, how difficult that journey was as people left in these overcrowded boats. Did your parents ever share their story with you? Speaker 10: 38:18 I mean, like through conversations, like I got bits and pieces of it, but they just told me that it was difficult to get here to America and that they wanted their children to have a better future than they had to not have to ever think about by boat. Like they did. Speaker 6: 38:37 What were the things as described to the title of your book that were lost to the water? Speaker 10: 38:42 I think for Vietnamese refugees, it was definitely the country, their lives that they had, like in my novel, we had a professor as the husband and a beautiful housewife in Saigon ran a very successful household, but all of that is kind of loss after the war. And when they come to America, they basically have to start all over again. The main character takes a job at eight, so to Canon factory, which would be something that she never would have thought of as a housewife in a middle class family back in Vietnam. So that is partly what they lost. But I think also for my characters, it's also this idea of what it means to be Vietnamese is lost to them, especially for the younger characters. And you see that as they're trying to negotiate what it means to be Vietnamese living in America. So I think it's twofold a loss of a home, also loss of something more intangible like culture. Like how do you belong to a culture that you didn't really grew up in? Speaker 6: 39:44 You decided to use water as a metaphor for what this family has to give up along the way to embracing a new life Speaker 10: 39:52 Waters, how they left their country. So water in a way meant safety, but at the same time, water is very dangerous. Many people died on their way trying to escape Vietnam by sea. So I wanted to explore the ways that water could be like something that could save you, something that's necessary, but also something that is also very dangerous. As we see in the book Speaker 6: 40:18 You describe in detail how strange the whole world of American culture was to this family down to the itchy fabric of twins, new shirt, or how strange the English language sounds. Now these are not your memories. So how did you learn that? Speaker 10: 40:36 I think I've picked and choose what I've did learned from my parents about what their experience was like coming to America, being in America, not knowing the language. So I kind of took from that and I kinda tried to step into those shoes as being like a foreigner. Like I have traveled to like different countries and have been a foreigner there. So I took that emotion of being on the outside of not knowing what to do in a different place where you weren't born. We don't know much about clearing the language. And I try to make my characters experienced that Speaker 6: 41:11 There's a considerable amount of anger expressed toward Americans by the characters in your book, things we lost to the water at a time when most Americans thought that Vietnamese refugees should be grateful to be accepted into this country. I'm wondering, did your parents' generation often have to hide those failings? Maybe their feelings Speaker 10: 41:34 On the one hand, they were grateful to be here to have escaped, but on the other hand, they knew that they were being treated differently and that if they stayed in Vietnam, they wouldn't have all these obstacles of being of a different race of, from the majority of having to learn a whole new language like growing up. I remember reframing my parents. My mother in particular said was if only we were still in Vietnam, if only we didn't leave, but of course, that's also mixed with the feeling that if you didn't leave something bad would have happened to you anyways. So it's definitely like a mixed feeling within, I guess my family, at least I saw this gratefulness, but also this anger of having to basically start all over again, to learn everything all over again, and also being treated so differently. Speaker 6: 42:22 America's acceptance of refugees has been a hotly debated topic for several years. Now. The previous administration basically stopped our refugee program. Now the Biden administration has started it up again, considering that refugee status was at best bittersweet for Vietnam war, era people. What do you think about this latest refugee controversy? Speaker 10: 42:48 I think what we're seeing now in the current era is just a repetition of that. Maybe a little bit different based on different races, maybe based on different religion. But I think like stories, like my stories of refugees will always be resonant, always have a place because as a country, we don't really know what to do with refugees. I mean, we're a country of immigrants of people who come here freely, but we're not sure of what to do with people who are fleeing a country who we don't see ourselves in. And I think that has played out within the last couple of years, especially like in the last administration. Speaker 6: 43:28 This is, as I said, Asian Pacific American heritage month. And of course we're living through a time when hate crimes against Asian-Americans have increased. Do you think much of the Asian American experience is still left untold for most Americans? Speaker 10: 43:45 I feel especially Asian Americans in the South are kind of ignored in the bigger narrative, especially like I felt after the attacks in Atlanta, in March, I felt like that kind of gave a spotlight of Asian Americans live in the South. And my book. I kind of hope that to give a little spotlight that Asian Americans and our stories belong in the South that were part of the cultural heritage, the history of the South and that to ignore the Asian Americans in the South would be to ignore the fuller picture of what it is to be American. Speaker 6: 44:19 I've been speaking with Eric when his new book things we lost to the water will be featured in a virtual event by Warwick's books tomorrow at 4:00 PM. And Eric it's been a pleasure. Thank you for speaking with us. Speaker 10: 44:33 Thank you for having me.

The FDA has authorized Pfizer’s COVID-19 vaccine for children 12 to 15 years old — a move that is seen as getting us closer to returning to normalcy. Plus, what California Attorney General Rob Bonta hopes to accomplish in his new role. Also, COVID-19 testing is supposed to be covered by insurance, but some people are still paying hundreds of dollars for tests. And, some San Diego City Council members are calling for a comprehensive analysis of how the police budget could be changed and funding priorities shifted. In addition, the Port of San Diego is considering a plan that aims to reduce the amount of pollution portside businesses put in the air. Still, the policy, however, isn’t getting a warm reception from community advocates. Finally, as those of Asian heritage are dealing with an increase in outbursts of racism, a new novel explores what it was like for Vietnam War refugees to resettle in the U.S.