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With The State Reopen But Herd Immunity Not Met, What Is The COVID-19 Infection Risk?

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PHOTO BY APU GOMES AFP VIA GETTY IMAGES

Above: The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says fully vaccinated adults don't need to wear masks in most situations. Some states responded cautiously and have yet to implement those new guidelines, while others have.

Following the end of most of the state’s COVID-19 restrictions, many Californians are beginning to drop their masks as they go about their daily lives. But the threat of COVID-19 still remains. Plus, the city of San Diego will soon have a new resource for families to turn to for support. City Councilmember Raul Campillo talks about the goals of the new Office of Child and Youth Services. And after more than 160 years Black independence day, otherwise known as Juneteenth, is on its way to becoming a Federal holiday. How San Diego is commemorating the day that the last enslaved Americans learned they were free. Then, how has the San Diego County sports landscape fared since the Chargers left San Diego in 2016? Also, tips to help your dog adjust as you head back into the office after remote working. Finally, “In the Heights” opened last week. It serves up a rare commodity: a big budget Hollywood musical created by a Puerto Rican American, directed by an Asian American and featuring a racially diverse cast. Could this herald a change in Hollywood?

Speaker 1: 00:01 Could variance threaten herd immunity.

Speaker 2: 00:03 I do worry that removing the mask mandate might put kids and folks who are immunocompromised at risk

Speaker 1: 00:09 I'm Jade Hindman with Claire Tresor Marine Kavanaugh is off. This is KPBS. The addition tell you about the new office of child and youth success.

Speaker 3: 00:28 This is going to be that central node where parents know that their child is facing a challenge. They'll be able to go to the office of child and youth success and find a resource that they need for their children

Speaker 1: 00:41 And how the black arts community is celebrating Juneteenth. Plus, we talk about the Hollywood musical in the Heights. That's ahead on midday edition. Following the end of the state's tiered reopening system, many Californians are beginning to drop their masks as they go about their daily lives. The threat of COVID-19 however, still remains and with a significant portion of state residents without their first or second dose of the vaccine questions remain about how the stage changing regulations will affect its progress towards herd immunity. Joining me now is Rebecca fielding Miller, an epidemiologist and UC San Diego professor. Welcome Rebecca.

Speaker 2: 01:32 Hello, thanks for having me. So

Speaker 1: 01:34 How do you think lifting most of the states COVID restrictions, including the use of masks will affect the fight against the pandemic? You

Speaker 2: 01:42 Know, I think that we've definitely reached a point where celebrating case rates in San Diego are very low, which is wonderful. And about 75% of people in our county have gotten at least their first shot, which is fantastic. I do think that it's important to keep in mind those that 25% of people still haven't gotten vaccinated and nobody under 12 has been vaccinated with a few very rare exceptions for research. And so we are not completely out of the woods yet. We also know that there are some people who are immunocompromised, maybe they are undergoing treatments for cancer or other diseases for whom the vaccines might not work as well. So it's great that numbers are so low. It's great that we can go about our daily business, but I do worry that removing the mask mandate might lead to a bit of a bump and might put certain people, especially kids and folks who are immunocompromised at risk counties,

Speaker 1: 02:33 Health and human services agency recently reported that 83% of eligible San Diego ones are fully vaccinated. You know, the number is closer to 60%. If you include children younger than 12, what's the significance of this milestone for the spread of the disease?

Speaker 2: 02:49 I think it's absolutely wonderful. I think it is a huge accomplishment and the counties should really be praised for getting so many people vaccinated so quickly, but it is people who are over the age of 12 and you know, many of us live with, or quite like people who are under the age of 12. And it does mean that last set of people, the 20%, the 25% who haven't gotten a shot, that's never at random, right? It's never just sort of a random selection. 20% of the county is not vaccinated. It's really often the people who are nervous about interacting with the healthcare system because they haven't been treated well in the past or people who think that, you know, COVID is not that big a risk. So I don't have to take, um, any sort of precautions at all. And ironically, they might put themselves at slightly higher risk. So I would have some caution about what might be happening if we have 20% of adults who could potentially be continuing this pandemic. And we know that, you know, every infection is an opportunity for a new variant that could potentially escape the vaccines that we already have. And that would be just terrible to set back all of our hard work that far,

Speaker 1: 04:00 How much will our community protection from COVID-19 change. Once we hit herd immunity for all San Diego, Enza including children. I think

Speaker 2: 04:09 It's important to really remind ourselves we've thrown around this term herd immunity a lot. And it's a really, really important term in public health. But I think we have a little bit confused it with the idea of eradication. So once 75% of San Diego kids are vaccinated, that's it COVID is eradicated in San Diego county. And we can all go about our days and, you know, blow candles and birthday cakes. Seventy-five percent of the county being vaccinated means that if somebody does get infected, whether it's a breakthrough infection from somebody who's vaccinated, or it's one of those 25% of adults who have chosen not to get vaccinated or it's anybody under the age of 12, if somebody does get infected, it means the probability that they can pass that infection onto somebody else is a lot lower. There's like a one in four chance that they can pass that infection on to the person next to them. And when the possibility that you can pass an infection onto somebody else, when that possibility drops really low, it means that the virus is essentially trapped in the one person who is infected it, can't escape to somebody else, but that's just probability. That's how it works at a community level. And so we can definitely see the potential for the virus jumping around a lot amongst these pockets of people who spend time together and who are less likely to get vaccinated because we spend time with people who are like us. And,

Speaker 1: 05:30 And in short, you know, the danger of COVID variants continues to really weigh heavy on the minds of, of California residents and health officials. What kind of risks do these variants still pose? Even with so many vaccinated people?

Speaker 2: 05:43 Certainly we've seen that [inaudible] is now the predominant variant here in San Diego. We know that it is more infectious. And I think we talked a lot about this race between the vaccines and the variants, and we did a really great job. And I think we won that race with [inaudible], which is really exciting. We're also seeing what we're calling now. People might have heard of the Delta variant. This is the variant of the virus that we saw emerge in India. Um, in a pretty devastating way. One thing that we're seeing in the UK in particular is for people who have only gotten one shot, the Delta variant can do a really good job of overcoming what that vaccine has already taught your immune system. So if people have only gotten one dose and they're hesitant now is a great time to get a second dose. We also see that the Stella to variant is a lot more infectious and it can be a lot more severe. And so we want first people to get vaccinated so that they do not get this. And we also want people to get vaccinated so that if they do get this, they're not the one who provides this virus with the opportunity to mutate even a little bit more so that it can overtake somebody's immune system. Even if they did all the studying, the test is just too hard and they can't overcome it.

Speaker 1: 06:51 I've been speaking with Rebecca fielding Miller, an epidemiologist and UC San Diego professor, Rebecca, thank you so much for joining us.

Speaker 2: 06:59 Oh yeah. Thanks for having me in the segment. You just heard,

Speaker 1: 07:03 We said 83% of eligible San Diego ones are fully vaccinated. That number is actually 62.5%. We regret the air

Speaker 2: 07:20 San Diego's newly passed city budget includes $350,000 to launch an office of child and youth success. San Diego city council member [inaudible] who represents district seven advocated for the new office. And he joins me now to talk about it. Welcome.

Speaker 3: 07:39 Thanks so much, Claire, for having me today.

Speaker 2: 07:41 So you've advocated increasing city services for children and families for a while. Now tell us about how the new office of child and youth success, uh, will work and why does the city need it?

Speaker 3: 07:56 So let's start with why the city needs it. Many other cities across the country and in San Francisco and Los Angeles have offices within the office of the mayor that are dedicated to nothing but thinking about programs and policies that will help children and our youth and help their families find those opportunities for their young ones. So we need that to just live up to the standard that other cities in California have, but on a policy front, we just know it's so expensive to live in San Diego right now that parents need help finding affordable quality childcare. And that's something that the city has never done before. We've never gone into that health and human services realm that we really should have advocates for the past 15 years have been trying to get this office. And this is the year we were able, able to finally do it together with Councilman, uh, ELO Rivera. Uh, he and I really went to bat to make sure that this was not just on our list of priorities, but at the top of the list of our priorities. And so it's a really, really big thing for San Diego families.

Speaker 2: 09:02 And tell us more about what the office will do.

Speaker 3: 09:05 So first, what it will do will it will have an executive director and a policy programmer and a youth intern just to start off that will bring together many organizations to formulate a framework for parents to find opportunities for their children most centrally around childcare. Uh, this is also an economic development issue. And I, as the chair of the economic development, uh, committee here in the city council, uh, asked our real estate department to identify locations that the city owns that can be transformed or where we can build childcare facilities so that we can facilitate more opportunities for parents. It will also be a central policy advisor to the mayor on so many different programs we have through the libraries, through the parks and recreation department, uh, so that we have a streamlined effort to get good opportunities in front of our children and have them be able to take advantage of them.

Speaker 2: 10:06 You mentioned childcare. I know the city provides some services for young people and families already. For example, I believe there's a childcare coordinator for the city. So how will this office be different?

Speaker 3: 10:19 Well, that childcare coordinator role has actually diminished over many, many years, and that is centrally for, for, uh, city employees to be able to find childcare for their children so that we have that benefit to attract a high quality employees to work for the city. This is going to be far more wide reaching, and this is going to be an in partnership with the county and other cities as well, because we know so many people who work in the city of San Diego don't necessarily live in the city of San Diego. And so this is going to be formulating a list of available childcare spots throughout the region. It's going to be, uh, facilitating the conversations between parents and getting on those wait lists. As as many of your listeners will know, they usually have to wait 8, 9, 10 months or longer to get off a wait list to get their child into quality and affordable childcare.

Speaker 3: 11:16 So it's going to be doing that big legwork for the parents so that they don't have to take it on themselves. And then of course, working with partners, including federal partners, like the Navy to find those spaces and open them up so that we can get more children in childcare and really facilitate that for the parents. It's really about taking that burden off the parent's shoulders, cause they already have to pay really high rent and they already have to drive really far for their jobs. Uh, finding quality childcare should, should be much easier in the city of San Diego.

Speaker 2: 11:48 Now you've also said you want the office to take on housing and food insecurity, mental health issues, helping with job and education opportunities. Long-term and those are big challenges. When do you think the new office will begin to make a difference in these areas?

Speaker 3: 12:05 Well, right now we've just got the funding in the budget for the $350,000 over the next two, three months, uh, as the chair of the economic development and intergovernmental relations committee, I am going to be crafting with my colleagues there, particularly council member, ELO Rivera, uh, the, the ordinance that implements it, as many of your listeners will know the commission on police practices was passed last November, and it's taking many months to get the implementing ordinance in place. The office of race and equity was passed in last year's budget. We're still at the point of almost, uh, we still haven't hired our executive director. I, from what I understand, we're very close to hiring that executive director. These things usually take about a year to get in place so that we have the proper staffing and the best candidates for the executive director roles and those higher level roles hired.

Speaker 3: 12:52 And so I think that within a year, we're going to have that, but that doesn't mean we're not going to start to accomplish a lot of the other aspects. Like I said, through my committee, I'm already having city staff identify locations so that when we hire that executive director in the next year, we'll already have a list of places that they can start to work on so that we can have childcare facilities. And then on the other issues, you mentioned about housing, food insecurity, mental health. This is going to be that central node where parents know their child is facing a challenge. They'll be able to go to the office of child and youth success and find a resource that they need for their children.

Speaker 2: 13:29 Now, the creation of this office comes at a time where many city services for youth and families are still closed. For example, libraries, rec centers, and pools, I believe, would this office be able to help get those going again?

Speaker 3: 13:44 Well, I fully anticipate that those services will be back in place before we hire an executive director. It's going to be three months before we actually create the office through an implementing ordinance. And then several months as we staff up and that hiring is going to be done through the mayor's office. And mayor Gloria is going to have a key role in that as well. So I think that, from what I understand, as we roll out of COVID, we will see the libraries and the, and the recreation centers and those community pools opened before this offices is really in place.

Speaker 2: 14:16 Would the money have been better spent on just restarting existing programs?

Speaker 3: 14:22 I don't think that the money would have been better spent that way because we need to invest now in the core planning group, that is the office of child abuse success, so that we have these services secured and expanded over the longterm $350,000 is good for setting up this sort of internal office in the mayor's office, uh, you know, going towards opening a pool, uh, going towards opening a library as we are still trying to protect people's health. Uh, and as we are seeing what the library funding a reshuffling of, of staffing, so that we can open it up in a financially responsible manner. I don't think that the $350,000 would have gone all that far in opening any of those services that you named, but it will go far if we invest it now in this particular office that we just did on Tuesday,

Speaker 2: 15:14 I've been speaking to San Diego city council member, Raul Campion, who represents the seventh council district, including Linda Vista, mission valley, San Carlos. And Tierrasanta thank you so much for being here.

Speaker 3: 15:26 Thank you so much for having me, Claire

Speaker 4: 15:38 [inaudible]

Speaker 1: 15:44 You're listening to KPBS midday edition. I'm Jade Hindman with Claire Tresor. Maureen Kavanaugh is off after more than 160 years black independence day. Otherwise known as Juneteenth is on its way to becoming a federal holiday. On Tuesday. The us Senate passed a bill that would make June 19th the day that the last enslaved Americans learned they were free in 1865, the 12th federal holiday, the bill is also expected to pass the house. Black Americans have been marking the day with celebrations and gatherings since 1865 in San Diego. This week, the black artists collective is in the middle of a week long. Say it loud festival with original plays about the black experience. The festival culminates on Saturday with an in-person June team event at Balboa park put on by artists for black lives. Joining me to talk about Juneteenth and all of the local commemoration is joy. Yvonne Jones, president of the San Diego, black artists collective, and one of the playwrights directors and organizers of the, say it loud festival joy. Welcome.

Speaker 3: 16:51 Thank you for having me.

Speaker 1: 16:53 Let's start with the news that the Senate passed the Juneteenth holiday bill yesterday. What's your reaction to this and Juneteenth, uh, being in the national spotlight right

Speaker 3: 17:03 Now? I am so overjoyed, honestly, growing up in Houston, Texas. I didn't know that it wasn't a national holiday until I became an adult and left Texas. So it is just it's overdue, but I am appreciative and so happy that this day is getting the recognition that it deserves. How

Speaker 1: 17:26 Have you celebrated and commemorated Juneteenth throughout

Speaker 3: 17:30 Your life? Well, my favorite thing was going to the parade in downtown Houston. It was always a huge event. All of the, um, black high schools in Houston and, uh, HBC use around town, uh, in Houston and right outside of Houston would come to downtown and just throw the biggest party. There would be, um, food that everyone brought and you would share with each other, my grandmother, my great-grandmother and all of her siblings and all of my cousins would come out and celebrate. And then after the parade, we go to the neighborhood park, which is called emancipation park and hang out there some more. So it was always a huge community event. And, uh, yeah, and we got to see some of our community leaders marching in the parade and we, you know, we would take turns trying to get their attention, to get them to yell at us. Um, so yeah. Wow.

Speaker 1: 18:26 The say it loud festival that's happening this week, uplifts, the stories of the black experience through art. What does it mean to you to share these stories with audiences?

Speaker 3: 18:36 It means the world to me, I had a traditional theater school education and I've learned the classics and I can do Shakespeare upside down, backwards and forward. And it wasn't until my senior year at the university of Minnesota where I was handed August Wilson. And I knew of into Zaki Sean Gay and Jews and Laura Parks, but it really dawned on me that there is more that I should be studying. And, and there's, there's more that should be illuminated. And so sharing black art during this important holiday is a dream come true for me. And we, I feel it in what we create, how fulfilling it is to the artists to really be able to share our stories our way. And let's

Speaker 1: 19:31 Talk about the black playwriting talent in San Diego, contributing to the virtual plays, being staged. Tell me about the mango tree and we danced and get on board.

Speaker 3: 19:43 So the manga, uh, the mango tree written by BB mama and directed by, by Claire Simba. I'm going to use Bebe's words, her take on an, a focus here. And she was inspired to write this because, uh, someone mentioned a haunted mango tree to her and she loves folk tales. And that is, and she has memories, fond memories of how her father would tell her stories and really act them out. And so this is her creation and her embodiment of the folktales that were close to her. And she is just so amazing and how she tells the story. She really rats you in it, and you get lost in her words and how earnestly she works to share this story. And we danced by making Vail directed by myself. And it is a story of a glimpse into the love that Ruth Ellis and babe Franklin had for each other and how important it was for them to create a space where as black people in the 1940s and fifties, they could be safe.

Speaker 3: 20:53 And they created a juke joint in Detroit, Michigan called the gay spot. So we get a glimpse into that history, get on board is a journey through the evolution of black music through time, starting with the African drums and going through hip hop. And in this week, we touch on popular dances. We touch on, I share a lot of poetry. I wrote a lot of poetry for that show, and it is honestly a really fun party that you learned from, and you'll cry a little bit in that show, but I think at the end of it, you'll get a really nice picture of the evolution of black music.

Speaker 1: 21:39 And we have a clip from tonight show get on board here's Leonard, patent's singing the classic Sam Cooke tune, touch the hem of his garment

Speaker 4: 22:11 [inaudible]

Speaker 1: 22:13 And you know, artists for black lives, San Diego returns this weekend, bringing entertainment in a fair to Balboa park. Tell us about what will be happening at Balboa park this Saturday, and some of the creative people behind it.

Speaker 3: 22:26 We are a part of this event, Ebony muse and her wonderful team at, uh, that is artists for black lives created it. And we will be sharing some of the pieces from get on board as well as other things that some of our membership have to offer. And honestly, like last year, it's just going to be a very community driven, open and embracing event where people can share their talents and how they feel about the current times and just celebrate together, celebrate Juneteenth

Speaker 1: 22:58 And performing and sharing art like, you know, theater or music or dance can bring the community joy and togetherness, especially after this year. Um, but how has art and the theater wrapped up in the fight for racial and social justice and has the theater stepped up?

Speaker 3: 23:16 The theater is supposed to be a reflection of the world around us. And oftentimes it has fallen short because of the entertainment side. And speaking about race in America is kind of like the peas and carrots, no one wants to eat it's necessary because if we don't deal with it, it comes back to haunt us and it, and it hurts. And we see how those scars can be reopened. We saw that this past year, and if theaters truly going to do their job by reflecting the world around us theater art in general, if they're going to do their job, they have to do more than just say we sandwich. No, we want to see evidence of, and there is an understanding that theaters have been closed for 15 months. We haven't been able to gather for 15 months. So there is going to be a creaky time of reopening, but I caution artistic directors against doing performative gestures that have no debt. We can see it. And it makes us question if we're welcoming your institutions.

Speaker 1: 24:28 Amen. Amen. I've been speaking with joy, Yvonne Jones, president of the San Diego, black artists collective, and one of the playwrights directors and organizers of say it loud, festival joy. Thank you so much for joining us and happy June team. Thank you. Thank you for having me almost four and a half years in San Diego and said goodbye to their beloved chargers. Following the team's relocation. After 56 years in the city, many wonder how the city sports landscape would fare after the loss of an iconic franchise. But in the time since charger's owner Dean, Spanno decided to move the team. There have been some notable winners among San Diego sports teams. Joining me with more is Tom CRAs, Vivek, a columnist and sports writer for the San Diego union Tribune. Tom, welcome.

Speaker 3: 25:28 Thank you. Glad to be here. So

Speaker 1: 25:30 Has there been a clear winner in the field of local sports since the chargers packed up and moved on?

Speaker 3: 25:37 There've been three clear winners, the Padres and the soccer community and San Diego state university. They've all come out stronger since the chargers owner Dean's banjos and his siblings decided to move the team which had been in San Diego for 56 years.

Speaker 1: 25:53 How has chargers fandom fared since the team relocated?

Speaker 3: 25:57 Well, you still have folks in San Diego who watched the games. The ratings are still good, nowhere near as good as when the team was here, but they still have pretty good support in terms of the TV viewing as far as going to the games up in Carson and now Inglewood, not so great, but contributing to the team's attendance in Los Angeles. Do you think

Speaker 1: 26:21 That people watching have become, are still fans or do you think they're more haters at this point? I

Speaker 3: 26:26 Think it's hard to know exactly, but my anecdotal experiences are good. Number of people still care about the team may not be fans of the ownership, but there's just something about the team that it's hard for them to totally cut ties. Yes. There are people who do enjoy seeing the team lose that. That's true too.

Speaker 1: 26:48 You make the case that San Diego's remaining sports franchises actually saw the departure of the chargers as a good thing. Can you tell us about that? Yes.

Speaker 3: 26:58 Two examples. The Padres are in the east village and the chargers had targeted adjacent property to have a stadium built there, a very large stadium, approximately 70,000 seats, maybe a little less. And this was not something that excited the Padres. They couldn't say a whole lot about it publicly, but they didn't want the chargers sort of stealing their thunder downtown. It presented some real challenges for the Padres. And as we know in the aftermath of the chargers departure, that same property, the Padres have obtained a development rights where city hall under Kevin Faulkner and the city council, they approved a Padres real estate development for that site. So that's a big victory. So those are a couple of victories for the Padres. Plus they become the only major sports team in San Diego, which is pretty rare for a city, this large eighth largest city. So several victories for the Padres and then San Diego state had wanted to buy land in mission valley where the chargers stadium was and succeeded there, as we know, and they're building a football stadium of their own. And then the soccer community I had mentioned, we've now seen three professional teams sprout up in San Diego since the chargers decision. And as

Speaker 1: 28:17 You say, a different kind of football has jumped in popularity in recent years. What can you tell us about the rise of soccer fandom?

Speaker 3: 28:24 Well, you have three teams to choose from. You have two men's professional teams and was 1904 and San Diego loyal. And then now coming on board as a team from the top women's league, which will make its first appearance on the field next season 2022, which is pretty exciting considering this legal being its 10th season. So it's got more staying power than the previous women's soccer league. It was in San Diego almost 20 years ago. So the new women's team, the president was the head coach of the very popular us women's national team. Her name is Jill Ellis. They won two world cups with her as the coach. So that's a great connection and pretty exciting development.

Speaker 1: 29:08 And you know, San Diego is still without a team also in the top men's league in the nation. Is there any speculation that the MLS could establish a franchise? There is

Speaker 3: 29:18 Speculation, nothing concrete. That's a great point. The San Diego loyal is in the second tier of men's professional soccer. And there's some thought that the combination of the, of the person running the soccer operation land and Donovan, who was a very good MLS player and USA national team player, his connections, and the fact San Diego is an attractive market, could potentially lead the MLS to come here.

Speaker 1: 29:45 More widely known mainstream sports, San Diego, and certainly aren't starved for choice when it comes to its minor sports scene. What else is out there for local sports fan?

Speaker 3: 29:56 Well, goodness, there's a lot of them. I've had trouble keeping track of them. Now you still have the San Diego goals, which have a strong core of followers that go to the sports arena to watch hockey. They're the top affiliate of the Anaheim NHL franchise. You have the indoor soccers who have been here for decades. They're heading up to ocean side to an arena. You have the San Diego seals, indoor lacrosse, San Diego strike force, which is indoor football. Also in the midway district arena, you have tennis in Carlsbad, a professional team. You have the ultimate desk professional team and the San Diego Legion rugby team is in its fourth year. So I probably miss someone, but there's plenty of teams in a perfect world. We would see San Diego and the w MBA. I think it could be a good match. We aren't there yet. So, uh, it's something to keep an eye on.

Speaker 1: 30:48 I've been speaking with Tom, [inaudible] a columnist and sports writer for the San Diego union Tribune. Tom, thank you so much for joining us. My pleasure have a great day.

Speaker 2: 31:08 There was a cartoon early on in the pandemic that showed dogs, calling each other on the phone saying, how could life have gotten this good? Meanwhile, cats were calling each other and saying, how could things have become this terrible? But the joke has truth to it. With many of us working from home for the past year and a half, our pets have gotten used to having us around, but now as people begin to return to the office, those pets will have to adjust to us being away. Joining me with tips on how to ease that transition is Amanda Kuwalski director of behavior programs at the San Diego humane society. Amanda, thank you for being here.

Speaker 3: 31:48 Thank you for having me. I'm very excited to be here.

Speaker 2: 31:51 So to start, it's a joke that dogs want us around all the time and cats never want us around, but there's also some truth to it. Right? So tell us which types of pets dog breeds in particular have the hardest time being alone.

Speaker 3: 32:07 You know, there really isn't any particular dog breed or cat breed, um, the prefers being alone or, um, being with a person, um, it really has to do with that, that animal's individual personality, um, just like humans, right? They have a spectrum of how involved they want to be, um, socially with other animals or with other people. And so I think it's really important that pet owners know that and really understand where their dog or their cat is on that spectrum.

Speaker 2: 32:39 And so what tips do you have for dog owners to prepare their pet to be alone during the day?

Speaker 3: 32:46 Yeah, you know, it's going to be really important for pet parents to really kind of ease into this transition and allow their dog or their cats some time to be able to get used to this new routine. So if you know that you're going back into the office and you know, maybe it's two days a week, um, for now, right. Um, you can start practicing, um, short departures, maybe go for a walk around the block and really see how your pet is doing while you're away.

Speaker 2: 33:16 Okay. So you mean go for a walk around the block by yourself, not with your pets.

Speaker 3: 33:20 Yeah, exactly. Go for a walk by yourself, leave your pet at home. You can even set up a zoom to record and see, um, and see what your pet is doing. Or if you have a, have a camera, you can record them that way too and see how they're doing while you're away. Um, just for a few minutes. Um, and that will give you a good idea of how your pet is going to do during this transition.

Speaker 2: 33:42 Are there other things people can do to set their dogs up for, for success while they're alone? Like say exercise or I know some people like to play the radio for their dogs.

Speaker 3: 33:53 Those are all really great suggestions. Exercise is really great for both our dogs and our cats, uh, playing music there's music that has been, um, uh, created specifically for dogs and cats in mind, uh, that appear to, you know, how they sense things. That's a really great option leaving the TV on for them. Uh, focusing on enrichment is great for both of those pets or actually any pet that you have, even if it's a small animal. Uh, so enrichment could be, uh, maybe only feeding them a portion of their food and then taking the other portion and creating like a frozen, uh, we call them, uh, pupsicles here at the behavior center and leading your pet a Popsicle when you, when you leave so that they have something a little bit longer lasting that they can, um, forage for that food. Uh, it helps stimulate their mind. So that's one way that parents can focus on providing them some other things so that they're not bored while they, while they go back to

Speaker 2: 34:54 Work. And I know there's even companies that make, um, treat dispensers that make dogs solve problems or work on puzzles to, to kind of keep them stimulated throughout the day. Uh, what about, um, people who are maybe sending a dog to daycare or having a dog-walker, what considerations should owners take there?

Speaker 3: 35:17 Yeah, if you're a dog loves being around other dogs, dog daycare could be really great. Um, they offer, you know, playgroups, uh, at dog daycares and that's a great way to one, provide your dog with some social content, uh, you know, while they're transitioning and to not having you around all the time. And it provides them exercise and a social stimulation with other species. So that's really awesome. And the same with even having a dog Walker come in, um, or you can have a cats that are come in just for a little bit to check on your cat and how they're doing. And again, it provides them with some social interaction during that time. So it gives them a little bit of a break where they don't have to be alone for a full, you know, eight to 10 hours a day.

Speaker 2: 36:00 Now I have a Shiba Inu, which is as close to a cat, I think, as you can have in a dog. And so she honestly didn't really care that we'd been home this past year. She kind of just does her own thing. And I also learned that she sometimes doesn't get out of bed until 11:00 AM or noon. I love that. Are there things you've heard from dog owners who've learned funny behavior about their pets this year? Yeah,

Speaker 3: 36:26 Absolutely. I mean, even with my own dog who is here with me during the interview, um, you know, I started noticing some, you know, funny behavior from him. He likes to hump his toys during the middle of the day and it's so random and it was like a clockwork. Um, and so I have heard from pet parents, some of those things, and I think that's so awesome that over the last 15 months, right pet parents, they got to find out more about their pets routine and really kind of dive into like how their pets live. All

Speaker 2: 36:56 Right. Well, I've been speaking with Amanda Kuwalski director of behavior programs at the San Diego humane society. And Amanda, thank you so much for being here.

Speaker 3: 37:06 Thank you so much for having me. [inaudible]

Speaker 2: 37:15 You're listening to KPBS midday edition. I'm Claire Tresor with Jade Heinemann Maureen Kavanaugh has the day off in the Heights opened last week. It serves up a rare commodity, a big budget Hollywood musical created by a Puerto Rican American directed by an Asian American and featuring a racially diverse cast, KPBS arts reporter, Beth OCA, Mondo explores what the wide release of a film like this can mean for the Latino and Latin X communities. Calexico

Speaker 5: 37:46 Chinchilla runs the New York Latino film festival and has been following the evolution of in the Heights. Since it began percolating in the mind of Lin Manuel Miranda, more than a decade ago, Chinchilla sees it as a love letter to his former neighborhood. I think

Speaker 6: 38:01 The unfortunate thing is that, you know, the heist is changing. You know, the gentrification is real. You know, a lot of us can't afford to be there anymore. It's a different neighborhood. So even that movie becomes a time capsule of you will say, so it doesn't disappear

Speaker 5: 38:17 In the Heights tells a particular story about one community, but Latino playwright, Herbert sequenza says, that's not how Hollywood sees it. It put us

Speaker 3: 38:26 All in this warm margin group. And it's, it's just very unfortunate,

Speaker 5: 38:30 Unfortunate, and problematic says Ethan Vonte [inaudible] founder of the San Diego film festival. The problem

Speaker 3: 38:36 Is we put too much pressure on these movies. Cause it's the one film of the whole year. This has happened many times. I've seen this over the years, right? All this pressure pressures put on this one film, and if it's not a success, then they say, okay, well that's why their audiences don't want to see their movies.

Speaker 5: 38:51 So Glenda says the scarcity of these films is the issue because

Speaker 3: 38:55 We want them to represent all of our feelings, all of art history, all of our, uh, nuances. And that's just impossible. It's just impossible. Uh, we have tons of stories, but they're just not represented in Hollywood,

Speaker 5: 39:09 Both sequenza and [inaudible] have grown jaded about Hollywood telling their story.

Speaker 3: 39:14 I heard a lot of people celebrating, oh my gosh, in the Heights, it's going to be a big change. And we're going to see more Latinos in front of the screen and behind the screen. But you know, we, unfortunately I've heard that before. We've seen that a few times with other films, films,

Speaker 5: 39:27 Zoot suit, which challenged stereotypes 40 years ago.

Speaker 3: 39:34 It's always important to remember those who have come before us and films like Zoot suit paved the way for someone like me to even make what he's currently made into Hollywood to even distributed what's being made for them. Suit

Speaker 5: 39:48 Suit was politically provocative in a way that in the Heights

Speaker 3: 39:51 Is not. Yeah. And so I always am really sad about films that try to push the boundaries a little bit and promote social justice issues and promote educating the community. Uh, I would say in the Heights is more, a little bit about, you know, a fantasy once upon a time

Speaker 4: 40:08 Faraway land called Washington Heights,

Speaker 5: 40:12 Washington Heights of the film is about as realistic as the New York of west side story, which celebrates its 60th anniversary. This year, sequenza sees a similarity in the way the two films avoid politics.

Speaker 3: 40:24 We don't get deep. You know, it's really about the dancing, right? The dancing and the love stories that really are carrying these films. They don't get deeper than

Speaker 5: 40:33 That for a young Latino filmmaker, like Luis Martinez of 2:00 AM burrito productions, the film was a mixed bag.

Speaker 3: 40:41 I would have liked to see him, uh, at Latin X director have the reigns of this, but they made me feel really good to see it on the screen and made me feel really good that the studio put its money behind the project like

Speaker 5: 40:51 That Heights, which opened in theaters and streaming on HBO, max underperformed at the box office in Hollywood's eyes. But Martina says, that's an easy story to pitch an editor in the

Speaker 3: 41:03 Heights, underperforms, what does this spell for Latin X audiences moving forward? But I think the people that are going to make the next project, they're going to get the real streaming numbers from HBO. You know, when you have access dual releases online, every, you know, HBO, max password out there is getting used by three or four different Latino families. That's close to 80 people that could have theoretically watched the movie during the weekend.

Speaker 5: 41:26 No matter how the film performed Fantino says the Latino community is excited about

Speaker 3: 41:31 It. Just kind of seeing how already families are already reacting via social media. Just like in the sense of pride and seeing oneself on the big screen sequenza agrees. But I think people are just reacting emotionally because we just don't see ourselves. We just don't see ourselves on film

Speaker 5: 41:51 Martinez suggests celebrating the film while still taking time to criticize it were necessary. I think

Speaker 3: 41:57 That as long as we have that conversation while still supporting it so that more artists like myself and other artists that are out there creating content and telling stories and all genres have the chance to make more films is, is, is what I would like to see come out

Speaker 5: 42:09 Of this. But sequenza feels that old cynicism creeping in because he doesn't see in the Heights opening any doors. There's

Speaker 3: 42:16 Not a lot of follow-up. I don't know any big Latino projects coming out that are going to like follow it up next year.

Speaker 5: 42:24 And Von Tilo started the San Diego Latino film festival almost three decades ago. A film like in the Heights was just a dream back then he was pushing Hollywood to simply make Latin stories and not whitewash Latino characters like west side story.

Speaker 3: 42:38 Did I think we're at a point now that we need to have, you know, Latinos portraying Latinos on screen and that obviously that musical, that movie didn't, uh, from a lots of the roles. And so in the highest takes us to the next level. However, we're still not there, right? I mean, we still don't have the Latino director directing the film, but Chinchilla

Speaker 5: 42:57 Defends. The choice of Jon M Chu is directly Derek.

Speaker 6: 43:00 You know, being Asian is not, you know, it's not a majority Islander,

Speaker 5: 43:03 Sequenza sees it as a labor issue.

Speaker 3: 43:05 Whenever I see Latinos on film, it's really a labor issue because you're not going to get the second job if you're not, if you didn't get the first

Speaker 5: 43:14 Job Martinez says that perhaps a Latin X director would have been more sensitive to the diversity within the Latino community than a California raised Asian American like Chu. And

Speaker 3: 43:24 I think maybe that was why there's so much of this backlash about the casting. Um, and about specifically not enough Afro Latinos displayed in the film, other than dancing in the background, we have to have the internal conversation about, you know, Latino, Latino racism, colorism, colonialism, all these things that come up that become important.

Speaker 5: 43:45 Martinez points out that Latinos make up a quarter of the movie going audience and Hollywood needs to reflect that on screen. That's why he says it's important to support in the Heights. Even if it's not perfect,

Speaker 3: 43:58 We can be celebrating the fact that this is happening. We can also kind of center ourselves and say every movie's not going to be able to be everything for every person. So in a way we're privileged to start having those conversations.

Speaker 5: 44:11 [inaudible] says one film can't represent the entire community.

Speaker 3: 44:15 It's important that in the Heights of speed, the first of many new films,

Speaker 5: 44:20 Chinchilla, or just people to not just support the film, but to see it in a theater and not streaming on HBO, max, can we make it,

Speaker 6: 44:32 You know, the way it's shot in anamorphic and to hear it in Adobe theater to be out, we've come too far as a people period in overcoming this pandemic to come out, vote at theatre theater celebrated, celebrate the culture, celebrate my, see this film, the way it on a VC. This doesn't happen often. It doesn't happen often at all.

Speaker 3: 44:57 They took details that tell the world we are not efficient. That is a theme that we got to really live up to. Again, Herbert sequenza. We have to have more movies with specific details that really show us as human beings as three dimensional characters and not just these kind of cartoonish dancers. I really want to see something a little more substantive than this, you know,

Speaker 5: 45:22 In the Heights takes us a long way from west side story, but there's still a long way to go

Speaker 2: 45:28 In. The Heights is currently in cinemas and available streaming on HBO, max.

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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.