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LATEST UPDATES: Tracking COVID-19 | Vaccines | Racial Justice

San Diego County Fully Reopens Tuesday As First Dose Vaccines Reach Goal

Cover image for podcast episode

PHOTO BY JACOB AERE

Above: San Diego County Supervisor Nathan Fletcher joins fellow leaders at the San Diego County Administration Building to celebrate the reopening of California, June 15, 2021.

The state is officially back open on Tuesday, with most Covid-19 restrictions gone -- for now, at least. We take a survey of the new rules and the new situation. Plus, while many have chosen to not get a COVID-19 vaccine, there are a few among us who desperately want to be vaccinated, but can’t due to medical issues. And the San Diego city Council Monday voted unanimously to pass Mayor Todd Gloria’s $4.6 billion budget for the next fiscal year. Then, some critics claim critical race theory advocates discriminating against white people. Where does that idea come from and how is the understanding of this curriculum so vastly different among people? Also, we look at the transition back to in-person arts events, new challenges as venues start welcoming audiences back, and whether or not you'll be seeing masks on the people next to you. And, we hear from some San Diegans on whether they will be going to in person concerts, plays and other arts events in the coming weeks and months.

Speaker 1: 00:00 Most COVID restrictions are now gone. Things

Speaker 2: 00:03 Are a lot different. I mean, the stay at home orders gone. Social distancing measures are gone masking for vaccinated people.

Speaker 1: 00:10 I'm Jade Hindman with Claire Tresor Maureen Kavanaugh is off. This is KPBS mid day Califia reopens, but how will those who can't get vaccinated navigate

Speaker 3: 00:29 You have not done a great job thinking about people with disability, people who are not, you know, a hundred percent able-bodied, um, throughout this entire pandemic,

Speaker 1: 00:40 I'll look to see what's in the city's new budget and hear how the performing arts will roll the curtains back that's ahead on midday edition against the backdrop of widespread vaccination efforts and declining cases. California is reopening still. There are more than 600,000 COVID 19 deaths across the U S and the threat of variants remains. But in California, while COVID 19 guidance will stay in place for large scale events. Most restrictions are now lifted KPBS health reporter. Matt Hoffman joins us with details on California's reopening and continued efforts to fight the pandemic. Matt welcome. Hey Jade. So how is today different from yesterday generally? What are the rules for mask wearing right now? You know, and what situations can you go without a mask?

Speaker 2: 01:41 Right. So things are a lot different. I mean, the stay at home orders gone, social distancing measures are gone masking for vaccinated people. And when we talk about what are the mask wearing rules right now, you know, for these face coverings, um, basically if you're vaccinated, most of that goes away. Now, there are some exceptions there that are for mass to people and unmasked people where, um, they have to wear those face coverings. And we're talking about public transit, like going on an airplane, going on the trolley, um, indoors, when you're at a school, you have to wear it. Um, hospitals, those are gonna be areas where people are going to have to make sure that they have a mask with them. Now, if you're unvaccinated, that's where it gets a little bit tricky and the states kind of laid out some guidelines for businesses, you know?

Speaker 2: 02:20 Um, so if, if I'm unvaccinated, the state wants me to continue wearing a mask in public places. That's like going to a restaurant, going to a gym, you know, going to a family fun center. Um, and for businesses, there's a couple of different ways that they can sort of verify that, you know, first they could do self attestation. So that's, Hey, have you been vaccinated? Yes, I have been. Okay. That's good enough. Um, the second way is businesses can implement some sort of vaccine verification system. So, you know, you talk to your friends and they say, I have a photo of my vaccination card on my phone. Um, that could be one of those situations where before you go into a bar, they say, Hey, can we see a copy of your vaccination card? And the third way is businesses can simply say, Hey, we're going to keep the masking requirement in place

Speaker 1: 02:58 At our and bars still limiting the numbers of guests and tables. Uh, you know, I mean, are they still social distancing

Speaker 2: 03:06 In short? They don't, they don't have to, they can, if they want to, you know, some business owners are taking the opportunity of the sort of dimmer switch that the governor talks about. And plus you have all this outdoor seating as well, too. So it's sort of up to what the restaurants want to do, but, you know, legally wise, those restrictions go away.

Speaker 1: 03:23 What about clerks and grocery stores? I mean, they can't tell if someone is vaccinated or not. So how are the stores approaching this situation?

Speaker 2: 03:31 Yeah. Each store is going to have to kind of, you know, make up their mind a sort of where they want to go. And I don't know if that's going to mean, you know, having, uh, you know, they used to have greeters outside of stores. Some stores have eliminated that, uh, they might be bringing that back with that self attestation asking, Hey, have you been vaccinated or asking people, Hey, can you show us a copy or proof that you've been vaccinated? There

Speaker 1: 03:49 Has been some confusion at Cal OSHA about mask mandates for workers. What happened and how was it resolved?

Speaker 2: 03:55 Well, Jadah has not been resolved just yet Cal OSHA's meeting in a couple of days. And basically what that means is there's going to be a couple week period where, uh, workers in California at the workplace are still going to have to mask up. And we know that, uh, the Cal OSHA board is meeting later this week to try to align, uh, these workplace mass guidelines with the CDC, with the state health authority. Uh, but there's a little bit of a lag time there. And basically there's a 10 day waiting period. So we're talking not until the end of the month, if it gets past, you know, June 27th, June 28th. Now the governor, he does have executive authority and he said, he's not shy about signing any executive orders that could speed up that process to try to align the dates more closely. So

Speaker 1: 04:34 Where do people absolutely have to wear a mask?

Speaker 2: 04:37 So sort of some of the things I touched on earlier, so we're talking about indoor settings for schools. We're talking about public transit. Anytime you hop on a bus or a trolley, um, anytime you go into a hospital, these are gonna be areas where masks are going to be required. And I imagine, especially in areas like hospitals and transit, that they're really going to be checking people. So, uh, just a tip if you're going out, you know, keep a mask in your, maybe in your wallet or in your purse, but what about airports? Yeah. Airports. They're going to have to, it's considered public transit. So they're going to have to wear a mask there. Hmm.

Speaker 1: 05:05 Where are we with vaccinations in San Diego county? Are we near herd immunity yet?

Speaker 2: 05:11 Yeah. The, the devious herd immunity word, you know, some people say it's 75% of people say seventies, we will say 80. Um, officials say at least for first doses that we have reached our herd immunity goal. So basically, um, you know, uh, of 12 and over 75% of that population has now gotten at least their first dose. And we know that there's a little bit of a lag time between the first dose and the second dose. So here in San Diego county, you know, officials are celebrating, saying, we reached a very, very big milestone here, but we know, and the governor talked about this a little bit too, that he's worried about, you know, other states and they're lagging vaccination rates. And we did hear from state officials, um, you know, the state's top doctor that we're likely going to still see some outbreaks in communities where vaccination rates are low

Speaker 1: 05:51 At this point, where can someone who wants a vaccination get one? I mean, are the super sites still operating,

Speaker 2: 05:56 Right? So those big super stations that have been around, you know, for months that can vaccinate, you know, up to 5,000 people a day, those are starting to wind down, but there's still a lot of opportunities for people to get vaccinated. The county's doing a lot of mobile clinics where they're setting up at like the airport and things like that. So people can just hop off the flight, get one, all the pharmacies are still offering. So, you know, CVS, Rite aid, Walgreens, you can still go in there and get your vaccination. But the big superstitions that a lot of people are accustomed to. The one in Del Mar the one at the old Sears in Chula Vista, the one at the Grossmont center in Lamesa. Those are all going to be closing by the end of the month. And officials just put out deadlines. You know, the first one to be closing is going to be the Grossmont center one. That's going to be closing this Friday. So if you have a second dose appointment there, you're going to have to reschedule it.

Speaker 1: 06:39 There was some speculation that vaccinated people might eventually need a booster. Uh, what's the latest thinking about booster shots,

Speaker 2: 06:47 Right? So we know that drug makers say that they are developing booster shots that they're ready to go. If they need to use them, you know, testing their effectiveness against the variance. That's sort of a big question. There is the variance in how long the immunity from getting a vaccine lasts. You know, every month officials are tracking that I did have a chance to ask the state's top doctor Dr. Galli with health and human health and human services. If we're going to need booster shots. And he sort of said, it's a little bit too early, but he said, if the if, and when it's needed, the state is ready to roll them out on a mass scale.

Speaker 1: 07:17 I've been speaking with KPBS health reporter Hoffman, Matt, thanks so much for joining us. Thanks shade.

Speaker 4: 07:31 Today marks the state's official reopening occupancy restrictions inside offices, stores, restaurants, bars, and stadiums are gone. And mask requirements greatly relaxed. Californians are celebrating their rediscovered freedoms except for one group. As I tell you about people who can't get vaccines for medical reasons.

Speaker 5: 07:55 Yeah, it was just poor timing. I, they, I was like, I think two weeks after I got my medication that the vaccine became available, this is

Speaker 4: 08:03 Bernice. We're not using her real name for privacy reasons because of her job. She knew she would be near the front of the line for a COVID vaccine when they became available last winter. But Bernice has multiple sclerosis. And at the time her symptoms were flaring up. I'm pretty sure

Speaker 5: 08:21 Comfortable being uncomfortable because I'm a runner. Like how much uncomfort could I deal with? I mean, I don't

Speaker 4: 08:27 Know. There are drug treatments that alleviate her symptoms, but they suppress her immune system making the vaccines far less effective. So if Bernice were to do the treatments, she couldn't take the vaccine for six months.

Speaker 5: 08:41 And at some, at one point I was like, I can't do this anymore. Like, so

Speaker 4: 08:44 She got her treatment two weeks later, she was eligible to get the vaccine. But instead, now she'll be waiting until August.

Speaker 5: 08:54 I mean, it wasn't like frustrating. I feel like it's more frustrating now that people are back to normal

Speaker 4: 08:58 Millions of people nationwide have chronic conditions requiring immunosuppressive treatments, aids, rheumatoid arthritis, and Crohn's disease are just a few examples. Also included are people who've received organ transplants and many cancer patients, UC San Diego epidemiologist, Rebecca fielding Miller says these people aren't getting enough consideration.

Speaker 3: 09:22 We have not done a great job thinking about people with disability, people who are not, you know, a hundred percent able-bodied, um, throughout this entire pandemic. And so this is part of that pattern. She says,

Speaker 4: 09:37 Loosening mass girls in stores and workplaces put unfair burdens on people.

Speaker 3: 09:43 What it means to live in a community where everybody can feel safe. Everybody can go into a target and, you know, buy a carton of ice cream and not, and not have that be a terrifying

Speaker 6: 09:53 Experience. Other than those very, very rare circumstances. Um, people should be getting a COVID-19 vaccine,

Speaker 4: 10:01 Dr. Davy Smith and infectious disease specialist at UC San Diego says only people with known allergies to a vaccine ingredient should skip the shot. That means people on immunosuppressive treatments should probably still get COVID-19 vaccines, even if they won't be as protected as a healthy person.

Speaker 6: 10:21 What I would say. And what I do say to my patients is, yeah, I'm going to give you the vaccine, but you, you have a condition or you're taking a medication that might, this might not work as well for you as what everybody wants it to. So you need to go out into the world and be careful. Um, the most thing I would do is

Speaker 7: 10:37 Just, you know, do drive through smoke last night.

Speaker 4: 10:41 That's the attitude taken by Bianca Santos who takes immunosuppressive drugs after her kidney transplant. She received both doses of the modern of vaccine, but knows they may not be as effective on her. So she doesn't feel the freedom, many others experience post vaccine. Um,

Speaker 7: 11:00 It's very disheartening though, because you know, you see your friends all going out and stuff, and then doing activities, outdoors, eating at restaurants

Speaker 4: 11:10 As a young person, Santos says, it's depressing to look at her friends, social media accounts. As we just heard, there are some San Diego fans who have been told by their doctors to not take a COVID-19 vaccine, at least not yet, or they know the vaccines, won't give them full protection. And that means they're lying on others, their coworkers, people at the grocery store to give them protection. But our businesses offering that protection to customers and employees, Sandy McDonough specializes in employment law at Paul Plevin Sullivan in Canton, and has been talking to business owners about their obligations. I started by asking her what employers are required do in terms of masks starting today. Here's that interview. So to start, there's been some back and forth and confusion over what employers are required to do in terms of masks. So what can you tell us about exactly what the rules are? Now?

Speaker 7: 12:09 There has been some confusion because Cal OSHA has submitted a couple of different versions of proposed revised emergency temporary standards, or what I will refer to as ETS. Currently, those are before the standards board, who will review them on the 17th. But as of right now, the standards that were in place as of the end of last year are still in place for employers.

Speaker 4: 12:33 You've been talking to business owners about these rules. Do they want to continue requiring masks?

Speaker 7: 12:40 Well, employers are doing a good job of balancing safety in the workplace, which is an ongoing requirement regardless of the new rules. And also thinking about morale and, um, complying with the law in connection with those safety and morale. And so in some circumstances, business owners have thought that masks would still be the appropriate direction to go. And in other situations, they've determined that they can comply with the guidelines without requiring masks for the individuals who, who the rules allow that for the

Speaker 4: 13:13 Responsibility, then fall on employees to speak up and ask everyone to wear masks. If a particular employee is not vaccinated

Speaker 7: 13:22 Should really fall on the employer to know who is vaccinated or who hasn't provided information regarding vaccination, as they're required under the new proposed revisions to document vaccination status. And if they don't have vaccination status documented for certain employees, they should follow up and make sure that the ones who are not documented as vaccinated are following the unvaccinated employer requirements, or if they have another exception that they're following that. Is there

Speaker 4: 13:51 A possibility of legal actions in the future where maybe employees are suing over being required to come to work or customers if a business isn't requiring masks?

Speaker 7: 14:02 Well, certainly in the employment arena, the employer always needs to be aware of potential accommodations that individuals might need that prevent them from coming to work or prevent them from following the guidelines. And in that case, the best way to avoid potential lawsuits is to engage in the interactive process and provide a reasonable accommodation to the employee unless doing so would create an undue hardship on the employer will also want to make sure to keep any medical information confidential and ensure that the employee is not subjected to what they would consider it to be retaliation because the employee is unable to wear a mask. What

Speaker 4: 14:37 About businesses that are saying only vaccinated people can come to the office? Is that a form of discrimination?

Speaker 7: 14:45 Well, again, you would want to really analyze the particular circumstances. And in that case, has the employer taken into account medical and potentially religious concerns? Have they been engaged in the interactive process? Another consideration might be as working from home, a reasonable accommodation, or is it something that the employee may see as, as not the same as coming to work? And so there are a variety of factors that each employer needs to consider when they make rules regarding mandatory vaccinations in the office.

Speaker 4: 15:15 For some of the people I spoke with for my story, they don't consider themselves disabled. They've never even had to talk about their medical conditions in the past because it wasn't a big issue in their lives, but now they're needing to disclose their medical histories to coworkers or bosses or future employers. So is this a change to how we talk about our health in the future?

Speaker 7: 15:37 I'm hoping that things continue in the way they have been in that employees are not necessarily required to provide a diagnosis from a doctor, but rather the restriction. So in this case, if an employee needs an acception to masking policies, for example, that they would have a doctor's note stating that rather than describing their entire medical history. And that may not even be required if it's a, if it's a workplace, um, in the vaccine context that is not requiring vaccines for everyone. So for example, if an employee is not able to be vaccinated for medical reason, but the employer doesn't need to know why somebody is unvaccinated, then the issue will not come up. And it shouldn't be an issue among coworkers. It's really a communication between the employer and the employee and something that the employer will keep confidential. Well, I've

Speaker 4: 16:30 Been speaking with Sandy McDonough who specializes in employment law at Paul Plevin Sullivan. And [inaudible] Sandy, thank you so much for being here. Thank you. [inaudible]

Speaker 8: 16:50 The

Speaker 4: 16:50 San Diego city council yesterday voted unanimously to pass mayor Todd Gloria's $4.6 billion budget for the next fiscal year. The final amount is roughly a 13% increase over last year's spending plan. Thanks in part to federal COVID really funds mayor Gloria identified affordable housing, homelessness and pandemic recovery. As the key issues he hopes to tackle with this new budget, but the city council meeting to approve the budget, hit a snag council members disagreed about a proposed amendment to slash police funding. Joining me with more is KPBS Metro reporter, Andrew Bowen, Andrew. Welcome.

Speaker 9: 17:31 Hi Claire. Thank you. So

Speaker 4: 17:33 To start, what were some of the major funding initiatives that were approved in yesterday's meeting

Speaker 9: 17:40 As far as new programs that were proposed by a mayor, Todd, Gloria, that didn't exist last year, there is $10 million for what he calls his sexy initiative. This is new funding for road repair and redesign with more safety measures in disadvantaged communities. There's another 10 million in nonprofit and small business loans, another 10 million for homeless outreach. And then every year there's always a small pot of money that the city council earmarks from the day S so, uh, among those things, there's more funding for code enforcement officers. There's funding for a feasibility study of forming a public electrical utility. This is coming off the tails of course, have the vote to approve another longterm agreement with SDG and E. And, uh, there's also money for, uh, the design of two new libraries or redesigned libraries and a new park in Barrio Logan.

Speaker 4: 18:32 How much did San Diego rely on federal aid to keep the budget balanced?

Speaker 9: 18:38 San Diego got more than $300 million from the American rescue plan. That's the COVID relief bill that was proposed by president Biden and ultimately approved by Congress on a party line vote. And that money was actually meant to replace lost revenue from the pandemic, recognizing that many cities and states are seeing lower tax, uh, revenue in sales tax and hotel tax, things like that. So the city is pretty flexible on how this money is spent, uh, in stark contrast to the cares act, which passed in 2020. A lot of that money, um, had to be spent on a city's, uh, direct pandemic response. So the city is using about half of this total funding, uh, about $150 million from the American rescue plan. Um, just basically filling the deficit that it was going to experience because of lost revenue. And they're saving the other half for the next two fiscal years. And that's strategic because the impacts of COVID-19 on tourism on a large conventions, which are an important part of the San Diego economy are likely to last several more years beyond when the pandemic is officially over, uh, medically speaking. And

Speaker 4: 19:46 I remember last year's budget meeting was pretty contentious. It ended around midnight after hundreds of people called in to support cutting the police budget. So what was this year's meeting like?

Speaker 9: 19:58 Well, it was much Tamer and more orderly. I can say that, um, and shorter, it wrapped up in the early afternoon. Um, the budget vote last year happened only three weeks after the murder of George Floyd. So this was really at the peak of the protest movement for racial justice and against police brutality. And last year, as you say, collar after collar, after collar, um, called into the meeting and said, defund the police department put that money towards parks, libraries, mental health services, affordable housing, public transit, other things that, um, that are, you know, make a community rich and more healthy. Uh, the phone system last year at the time couldn't even handle the call volume. So the system kept on crashing, and that was one reason why the meeting lasted so long this year, the technical glitches were sorted. There was no real, uh, snafoos there.

Speaker 9: 20:48 Um, and, uh, however, the movement to shift funding from police, uh, to other public safety priorities and, um, community health priorities is still around. And there were still plenty of people calling in to support that idea. There were also, uh, pro-police, um, callers who have gotten more organized, several people calling in saying, don't cut the police budget. And I think that's, you know, just a reflection of, of where our society is. There is still a substantial portion of San Diego ones who, uh, see nothing really seriously wrong with the status quo with regards to police.

Speaker 4: 21:21 Now, I know there was, uh, an interesting moment where council member Monica Montgomery step put forward a last minute effort to reallocate $6 million from the police overtime budget. So what happened to her proposal

Speaker 9: 21:35 Council member, every step has been talking a lot lately about re-imagining public safety. And this is basically just understanding that crime is often a response to economic hardship and disenfranchisement or social exclusion. It's not always, uh, you know, crime is not a result necessarily of simply not having enough police around or not enough police presence in a community. And that what I think that she was trying to do with this proposal to cut $6 million from the police overtime budget. And I'll explain, you know, where she would reallocate that she was just trying to force the council to debate the budget and the police budget in particular, on those terms about re-imagining public safety. So she had a breakdown where she'd like to reinvest those $6 million, um, youth diversion programming, more homelessness, outreach funding, graffiti, and weed abatement, new streetlights, um, all things related to public safety and quality of life. It was unlikely to win a majority, I'll say. Um, but council member Montgomery step tried to use this parliamentary procedure to force a debate and a vote on her proposal. Um, that was not allowed by the council president, Jen Campbell, who runs the meeting, uh, the council member, uh, then tried to make it as an amendment to the motion that was already on the floor, but that wasn't accepted either. So ultimately it just never got a vote or a real discussion

Speaker 4: 22:52 Exciting times at the city council meeting. I know there were also, um, lingering concerns over cuts, mayor Gloria initially proposed to services in underserved neighborhoods. And what happened to those cuts in yesterday's meeting?

Speaker 9: 23:06 Well, thinking back just two months ago, mayor Todd Gloria, his original proposed budget would have slashed library. Funding libraries would have been closed on Sundays and Mondays more than 150 employees would have been laid off. And he said at the time, this is what's necessary to end our chronic budget deficits that San Diego saw even when the economy was growing. Uh, but there was a big outcry from underserved communities, you know, saying basically a family in Logan Heights or in Canto relies much more on a public library than a family and LA Jolla or point Loma. So for a mayor who talks so much about equity, that proposal just didn't sit well. Um, ultimately mayor just reserved, uh, reversed course and funded libraries, uh, open seven days a week. And that was a big win for equity propose.

Speaker 4: 23:52 This was mayor Todd Gloria's first budget since his election last November. What does it mean for him that this budget was approved unanimously

Speaker 9: 24:00 Almost immediately after the vote Todd Gloria's office send out a press release, basically him taking a victory lap saying he got unanimous approval and it was going to be a tough budget year, you know, uh, we weren't sure about federal aid coming through. Um, we were definitely not sure about, uh, disagreements over the police budget, but ultimately, uh, he forged a wide coalition and got all nine votes to say yes to him. Well,

Speaker 4: 24:26 I've been speaking with KPBS, Metro reporter, Andrew Bowen, Andrew, thanks for joining us. Thank you, Claire

Speaker 1: 24:39 Critical race theory has been at the center of a recent culture war surrounding what children are taught in school about race history and the contemporary impacts on institutions in this country. It's the parts of history, often omitted from history books, yet pivotal to ending systemic racism, San Diego union Tribune columnist, Charles Clark explores the issues in a recent column. Charles, welcome.

Speaker 6: 25:04 Thanks for having me

Speaker 1: 25:05 For those who don't know what is critical race theory

Speaker 6: 25:08 Of late. It's become a big buzzword. Um, but its roots actually go back several decades, uh, to the 1970s and eighties where it was really an academic concept that kind of grew out of a framework for legal analysis, um, and at its core kind of what the theory's purpose was, is to examine how racism, um, has shaped the U S legal system and public policy, um, and how that's affected many aspects of American life and American institutions, not just historically, um, but well into the modern day. I mean,

Speaker 1: 25:39 You know, from Missouri to Montana, there's legislation being written to ban, um, CRT from schools and 15 states have, as you mentioned in your piece, have introduced bills to restrict how racism, sexism and other societal issues are discussed in the classroom. So first who's opposing this education by

Speaker 6: 25:57 And large it's conservatives. Um, in particularly I think a bit, you know, a certain brand of conservatism, um, you know, the freedom caucus folks like that, uh, they really have pushed this, um, as has, uh, former president Donald Trump who actually signed an executive order related to the issue.

Speaker 1: 26:18 So then why is there so much resistance to teaching students, critical race theory from, from these people?

Speaker 6: 26:24 Well, their contention is that it is divisive, um, and it will make kids hate each other. Uh, and you know, really it kinda gets to kind of this whole culture wars thing. And, you know, I think some of them like the heritage foundation, you know, these groups that don't want to acknowledge the systemic racism as a thing, um, you know, part of CRT is you kind of just explicitly are acknowledging that that is a very real thing. Um, so they really don't want to get into that very much. It seems to be, at least as I understand it, when I see her parents and some of the emails I got that were rather angry about me writing about it, uh, it was very much this attitude about we don't want white kids to feel guilty. Um, and maybe that's a blunt way to put it, but that's more or less what they're getting at is we don't want white kids to be, feel like they're guilty or that they did something, um, inherently just because they're white. Um, and in some cases they kind of, the natural progression of that is the people who oppose CRT, at least this very vocal group, they kind of contend that it is inherently racist against white people,

Speaker 1: 27:36 But where does that idea come from and how is the understanding of this curriculum? So vastly different among people,

Speaker 6: 27:44 You know, to be honest, I'm not entirely sure kind of how they got to ADA to be that, to see there if, if I'm being quite honest. Um, cause I think as I kind of noted in, in my piece, I think generally speaking, I would hope that most people are intelligent enough to distinguish that no, simply being white doesn't mean you're racist. Um, you know, the, the calculus seems to be that it is a very, you know, opportunistic political tool, uh, to get people out to vote.

Speaker 1: 28:17 Yeah. And I was going to ask, you know, do you sense that arguments against critical race theory are disingenuous? And if so, in what ways?

Speaker 6: 28:25 The main reason I, I view the arguments is disingenuous generally speaking, um, is I think, you know, most of the time when I hear people making the arguments, they're applying it rather broadly to something that isn't exclusively CRT. Um, and more often than not, it turns into this conversation about it. It's kind of like the patriotic education thing, right? We want history taught a certain way or pretending that there isn't a real reason that something like CRT is needed and that's where it kind of irks me because, you know, I think it's one thing to debate the specific merits of this kind of analytical framework. Um, and again, I do think there's a fair critique in that it's a little too broad and nebulous, but there's another thing where you're kind of using it to try to snuff out any discussion of any kind of education program that requires kids to think critically about race and racism, you know, frankly, from a personal perspective.

Speaker 6: 29:30 I think part of the reason that irks me so much is it wasn't that long ago that I was in school. And I think about the fact that things, you know, from the Tulsa race massacre to Emmett till and all these different things that really weren't taught, you know, even Henrietta lacks, right? Uh, just, there's a lot of parts of history that, you know, very intentionally have been excluded from classrooms and things, because I think we want it to perpetuate this idea of American righteousness and excellence when the reality is, you know, this is a country that like we struggle with systemic racism. It was a country founded on the genocide of one group of people in the enslavement of another,

Speaker 1: 30:13 Uh, another issue. I mean, do you think that part of the problem is that some people don't have a real understanding of what racism is?

Speaker 6: 30:20 Yes I do. And I think it's because there's a tendency with a certain segment of folks that they want to think of racism as someone burning across in your yard, right? Or, you know, openly calling you a slur, something that is a very, you know, clear over active racism when you recognize and acknowledge that racism, isn't just an individual over act, but a systemic thing where institutions and things have consistently punched down at people. Um, the flip side of that is on some level you have to kind of acknowledge that you inherently had some advantages over other people. And I don't think it's necessarily an American thing, but I think most of us want to believe that we've earned everything we've got. And, you know, we, we like to entertain right, that we went through this adversity and that we, we got everything on our own merits. And I think, you know, when you have to acknowledge the systemic racism is a real thing, you kind of acknowledge that, you know, you've got an upper hand that a lot of other people weren't afforded and I don't think that makes you a bad person, but I think a lot of people really struggle to accept that

Speaker 1: 31:39 I've been speaking to Charles Clark columnists with the San Diego union Tribune. Charles, thank you for joining us. Thanks for having me Jed, you're listening to KPBS midday edition. I'm Jade Hindman with Claire Tresor Maureen Kavanaugh has the day off as restrictions are lifted and the region takes a giant step towards normalcy. We're going to take a closer look at the performing arts industry in San Diego for the last year and a half almost opportunities to reopen or recreate the audience experience online have been limited. Many performers have been out of work, but joining me is KPBS arts editor and producer Julia Dixon Evans, to take a look at the transition back to in-person events, new challenges as venues start welcoming audiences back and whether or not you'll be seeing masks on the people sitting next to you. Welcome Julia.

Speaker 4: 32:39 Hi Jay. Thanks for having me.

Speaker 1: 32:42 So, Julia, what's your sense of how these places are feeling now that shows are coming back, the excitement and relief must be palpable.

Speaker 4: 32:50 It really is, but for a lot of the groups I've been speaking with, it's not entirely our relief, not just financially, but there's a lot of healing and trauma. A lot of artists are going to have to contend with here's Barry Edelstein from the old globe,

Speaker 6: 33:08 Something like 600,000 Americans died of this pandemic. Um, there was tremendous economic hardship around the country and the state and here in San Diego and indeed in the community of people who work for the old globe and then the artistic community of the American theater in particular. So the joy is not on a Lloyd and

Speaker 4: 33:29 Theaters and dance companies are also contending with trying to reflect on their stage where they are in terms of social and racial justice too. Here's Christopher Ashley, who is artistic director at the LA Jolla Playhouse, who, who spoke to this,

Speaker 6: 33:45 The anti-racist commitments that we've made as a theater really very much play into how we all come back together. Uh, the kinds of stories we tell and how we, uh, make sure that, um, BiPAP artists and audience members feel fully taken care of, um, listened to supported

Speaker 1: 34:04 In live music venues like soda bar Casbah or the observatory. The reality of these venues is standing room only general admission ticketing, a sellout crowd can mean shoulder to shoulder with strangers. What will the reality be? Post social distancing there?

Speaker 4: 34:21 Yeah, I mean much earlier in the pandemic, there were ideas tossed around about adding chairs to these floors, but that's just not feasible. Corey Steere, who is partner and talent buyer at soda bar said that they can only do full capacity. I asked him a little bit more about this.

Speaker 6: 34:40 We're not able to operate, you know, in any other way really. That's why we haven't reopened. Like we've waited, you know, until this time. So we opened because, you know, financially, it just wouldn't make sense for us. We'd be better off clubs. And they're

Speaker 4: 34:54 Also still working out all sorts of other details. Like whether they'll have smartphone ordering capabilities for the bar or how they'll use barstools and they still have another month to go before their first scheduled show at soda bar. So there's some time

Speaker 1: 35:09 Across the board. We're looking at a lot of uncertainty and confusion from our audiences about whether places will require proof of vaccines or whether audiences will be required to wear masks. What do we know so far from the venues?

Speaker 4: 35:24 Yeah. A lot of these venues are still really up in the air in terms of capacity, in terms of masks and the old club. They don't have actual seats for sale yet you can still, you can already get season tickets for the season that they've announced to start in August LA Jolla Playhouse also has to follow the lead of the UC system. They're on the campus of UC San Diego. And they said that they have budgeted in a way that means they can socially distance in audiences, if that is still required. And they said that they're not releasing a seating chart yet until they have a better sense of what their audiences are willing to do and what the restrictions are. One place that was pretty clear on, on masks and social distancing was San Diego theaters. They're the commercial group that operates the civic theater and the Balboa theater. So their clients are places like Broadway, San Diego, the San Diego opera. And they also book individual touring musicians. I spoke to the president and CEO of San Diego theaters. That's Carol Wallace here. She has

Speaker 7: 36:30 On all of my industry calls in. We've talked about, uh, are you doing any kind of mass mandate? Uh, and we're not, um, you know, are you requiring vaccinations? And we're not. Um, so we're open at full capacity.

Speaker 1: 36:47 And what kind of shows are we seeing scheduled are places struggling to have material or performances to actually put on the stages?

Speaker 4: 36:56 Yeah, so for live music, the early bookings we're seeing are pretty local. Uh, but as we get later in the summer, we will see touring acts that are starting to travel around the country. So at soda bar, they're kicking things off on July 16th with locals Mrs. Magician, and the following week, they have Danny bell on the town test. And in the theater I had asked LA Jolla Playhouse is Christopher Ashley. If they're going to see us slow start while all of these productions can be put together to bring to the stage,

Speaker 6: 37:29 You know, we had, um, a season announced, um, that we had to hold on. So we've got many plays that we were sort of already ready to go with. And in addition, I mean, every artist I know has written three new plays and

Speaker 4: 37:45 LA Jolla Playhouse is also kicking off the season with three world premiers. They have the garden in late September, November is a play called the yellow house, which is, uh, a van Gogh story and a musical banging it, which will be in March. But before they do full productions, they're going to have their DNA new work series, the play readings that's next month. And they also have a free outdoor pop-up show. Their pop-up wow of short plays. That's going to be August at the outdoor stage in Liberty station and San Diego theaters. They said that it will be awhile maybe after the new year before they're operating a full volume of shows. They're going to start with just two in August. They have blues rock guitarist, Joe Bonamassa, there's crossover, violin, electronic artists, and YouTube or Lindsey Sterling. And then several more in the fall, there's going to be some standup comedians and then Broadway, we'll start with hairspray in mid-November. And they'll also have a Nutcracker in December and at the old globe, they're starting this weekend with outdoor cabaret style performances on their festival stage. And we're also going to see a production of hair in August on the outdoor stage. Also their first indoor shows will be globe commissioned world premier musical. The gardens have an NCA that's in September and shutter. Sisters will be a world premier also in October.

Speaker 1: 39:15 And as we've heard, there's a hunger in arts communities to get back to live audiences and experienced performances the way we used to. But do you have a sense of whether that anticipation is actually turning into ticket sales?

Speaker 4: 39:29 It really is. At least for now as this first wave of tickets are going on sale and here's Carol Wallace, again with San Diego theaters,

Speaker 7: 39:38 We can only open at full capacity. So all the events that we have scheduled or at full capacity and ticket sales are brisk. Uh, you just would not believe a show will go on sale and immediately, uh, you see hundreds of tickets sold within a few hours and, uh, so much so that some of our clients are adding second shows immediately.

Speaker 1: 40:01 I've been speaking with KPBS arts editor and producer, Julia Dickson, Evan who recently checked in with Barry Edelstein at the old globe, Cory steer it's soda bar, Carol Wallace at San Diego theaters and Christopher Ashley at the LA Jolla Playhouse. Thanks Julia. Thanks for having me Jade.

Speaker 4: 40:21 We also wanted to know how San Diegans are feeling about returning to in-person events. Now that San Diego is back open, will you go to concerts plays and other arts events with live audiences? And we heard from lots of you. Here's the selection.

Speaker 6: 40:38 My name is Richard ciao Davis, and I live in San Carlos. I'm unsure. Uh, I suspect we will be closed down within a month because of, uh, pools of unvaccinated and variance. Most other nations seem to have done the same. I mean, they open too early and then they just have to close again. So I'm afraid we're jumping the gun. My name is forest staler and I live in camp Pendleton. I am about to go event crazy. I feel great about the vaccine and honestly, not that concerned about people who've refused to get it yet. They made their call not going to spit on anyone, but you better believe I'm going to be dancing with strangers. I just purchased Broadway tickets today.

Speaker 7: 41:23 So my name is Elena Marta Cobra. And in terms of arts and events that are opening up now in San Diego, where I live, um, the question being, would I participate to any? Um, my answer is, I mean, I would, but very cautiously. I wouldn't. I would like to go to events such as concerts and plays. I love theater and music, but going into a closed face, especially with children that are not vaccinated yet, and that are cannot be vaccinated due to the age. I wouldn't do it. If anything, I'd be more cautious than less, because now we have no way of knowing who's vaccinated and people will start removing their masks. And until we reach herd immunity, which is the magical 70 plus percent vaccinated number, my children are now in more danger than they were before. Since now everybody will be unmasked and the transmission could actually go well. So I will be very cautious. I'll take them to the park to play outside, but we are not going to the cinema yet.

Speaker 6: 42:30 Hi, my name is Dylan Cawthorne. Um, I'm, I'm definitely really excited to return to live music and show my support for bands that are coming through and local venues like the Casbah soda bar and brick by brick. Um, I definitely don't feel more comfortable at venues that have a mass policy, but I don't really anticipate canceling plans because of, uh, certain venues policies at this point,

Speaker 4: 42:55 I'm Eve gross. My pronouns are she and her and I live in San Diego, California. Can I be happy to go to any live performances that they're outdoors or in a large well ventilated space? If indoors capacity would have to be limited quite a bit for me to feel comfortable. Um, my concern is that the vaccine isn't protecting us against other variants or when our vaccine actually wears off. If we go back to the way things were with full capacity, we could have a really bad spike of the virus again. And I don't want to get caught up in that also as a musician in a band, I'm a singer. So I would only want to play outdoor shows. That's the only thing that would make me feel comfortable.

Speaker 6: 43:40 My name is Anthony King. I live in Hillcrest. I'm eager to be in person to support the artistic community in our region. Again, I know there are certainly many benefits to virtual or recorded events, but for me, really, nothing can be cheering on the musicians and actors and writers and artists while I'm being in the audience. I'm probably going to be a little bit nervous in larger groups, especially endorse. Um, but really I trust the vaccines and I know that that's what they're for. And when I'm feeling super stressed, I can always put on a mask, but I know that a mask won't be able to hide my excitement.

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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.