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

San Diego County Advancing To Red Tier; Indoor Dining, Movie Theaters Opening

Cover image for podcast episode

PHOTO BY ALEXANDER NGUYEN

Above: An outdoor dining area at Claim Jumper Restaurant in the Embarcadero sits empty in this file photo from Dec. 13, 2020.

San Diego County will move back into the less restrictive red tier of the state's COVID-19 reopening blueprint Wednesday. Plus, our series on the one-year anniversary of the COVID-19 pandemic continues with a look at how major health care organizations responded. And we speak to the founder of UC San Diego Health's post-COVID-19 clinic about what we are learning about the lingering effects of COVID-19 long after the infection is gone. Then, almost a month after the Biden administration launched a program to process some asylum-seekers, hundreds of people are now camped outside of the San Ysidro Port of Entry. Plus, how will the pandemic change the future of work? Finally, author and oceanographer Kim McCoy combines science and adventure in his new book, "Waves and Beaches: The Powerful Dynamics of Sea and Coast."

Speaker 1: 00:00 San Diego moves to a less restrictive tier.

Speaker 2: 00:03 Yeah. You know, just anecdotally talking to some businesses, Jane, a lot of them plan to reopen on Wednesday.

Speaker 1: 00:08 I'm Jade Hindman with Maureen Kavanaugh. This is KPBS midday. What we are learning about the lingering effects of COVID-19 long after the infection is gone. I had a patient who, um, told me that she had set up the zoom meeting with colleagues and when she logged onto the zoom meeting,

Speaker 3: 00:36 She just couldn't remember why she had even set up the meeting

Speaker 1: 00:40 And how work could be forever changed due to the pandemic. Plus climate change through the lens of an oceanographer that's ahead on midday edition,

Speaker 1: 01:00 It was announced moments ago that San Diego County has now transitioned from the highly restrictive purple tier to the more lenient red tier guidelines. While the move to the red tier doesn't mean a total ease on restrictions. It will allow for some key changes that are expected to greatly help San Diego's ailing businesses. Joining me is KPBS reporter Matt Hoffman, who is covering the ongoing County tier developments. Matt welcome Jay. So it is now official that San Diego County has moved from the purple tier to the red tier, which is a less restrictive. Do you have any sense of when businesses will be able to open underneath those guidelines?

Speaker 2: 01:39 Yeah. You know, just anecdotally talking to some businesses, Jane, a lot of them plan to reopen on Wednesday. Uh, I do know that last time this happened, um, we made a tier change. The restrictions didn't go into effect or weren't lifted until the following Friday. So that would be this Friday. We will get an update from County officials tomorrow. We will have all those details.

Speaker 1: 01:58 So what criteria has been met in order for the County to transition from purple to red tier?

Speaker 2: 02:05 Yeah. So we're making this move a little bit earlier than expected. You know, we had to meet certain criteria relating to cases and testing. Uh, one of the, one of those was the adjusted case rate. That was a number we were looking at for a really, really long time. Um, it had to be below a certain level for two weeks in a row, but the state of California reached a goal to vaccinate vulnerable residents in certain zip codes, including some in San Diego. They reached that 2 million dose Mark, which lowered the bar.

Speaker 1: 02:29 Some of the key ways in which restrictions would ease under red tier guidelines.

Speaker 2: 02:34 Right? So we're talking about indoor operations at a lot of places that that'll be easy. So, you know, when was the last time you went to a movie J you know, movie theaters will be able to reopen indoors at a limited capacity? Uh, we were just in point Loma, we just talked to a gym owner point MoMA sports club. Uh, there were Indigo, they have a big outdoor setup. They'll be able to do 10% capacity inside, and then they're hoping they'll be able to scale up. And then restaurants, you know, there were for awhile, the ban on outdoor dining. Uh, we know that that's been lifted. And so now restaurants will be able to operate indoors, but at a limited capacity. So a lot of restaurants really excited about these new developments,

Speaker 1: 03:07 Speaking of which, you know, the shift in guidelines seems like it must come as a relief to businesses that have been waiting for months to resume indoor operations, particularly like the restaurants you mentioned.

Speaker 2: 03:19 Yeah. It's really been a roller coaster ride Jade. And you know, there's been a lot of different funding opportunities, but business to say that it's really been confusing because you have state programs, you have County programs and then you have, you know, federal government programs. So we know that another round of relief is coming from the federal government. So businesses are also looking forward to trying to get some of that. Okay.

Speaker 1: 03:38 And I understand that, uh, amusement parks and live entertainment will also be affected.

Speaker 2: 03:44 Yeah. So, you know, amusement parks, the governor and his team did announce a couple of weeks ago, once counties are in the red tier, um, after April 1st that those can begin reopening, but not, not just amusement parks to at a limited capacity, but also we're talking about Padres baseball. You know, we know that UC San Diego health, they're going to be closing down that vaccination site there this weekend. Uh, because we know that the Padres want that parking lot back because the governor, his team have told them that they could operate echo park at 20% capacity after April 1st, should we stay in this red tier?

Speaker 1: 04:14 It's important to note that even though the shift represents a significant easing of County guidelines, that we are still at a very restrictive and delicate stage in keeping COVID cases low at the County level, any plans for how they plan to, to go along with that.

Speaker 2: 04:31 So we know we were in the most restrictive purple reopenings here. You know, we're going to the red tier, which is the second least restrictive, but we know that there's orange and yellow, which opened up a lot more activity. So officials are hoping that, that we can keep moving up our way through the tears. Also Jade worth noting the red tier also is big news for schools. That means that a lot of schools can reopen, basically when we were in the red tier before we're talking to, you know, pre November of last year, if schools did not reopen in the red tier, then they basically couldn't do it. Um, so a lot of schools are really looking at this as an opportunity to reopen SDA unified as that goal of doing it by April 12th.

Speaker 1: 05:05 And we've often seen spikes in case numbers in the period, following an ease and restrictions. Do health officials anticipate any such correlation in the coming weeks?

Speaker 2: 05:16 Yeah, we saw it in the summer, you know, with some of the holidays. And then we saw when we had the Christmas and when we had Thanksgiving, um, you know, it's really unclear, you know, we know that vaccinations are going into San Diego arms, you know, more than a quarter of residents over the age of 16 have gotten at least one dose. So, um, you know, it's really unclear if we might see a spike in cases,

Speaker 1: 05:35 The change to red tier will affect more than just businesses. Correct.

Speaker 2: 05:41 Right. Yeah. Like I said, it will be affecting things like schools, uh, you know, for a long time, schools have been really, really trying to reopen. And there's been a lot of, you know, angers on anger on both sides, um, where parents are very upset. Uh, but some officials think that that some of that anger has been sorta misguided because they can't reopen even if they want it because of those tier restrictions.

Speaker 4: 05:59 I've been speaking with KPBS general assignment reporter, Matt Hoffman, who is covering the counties tier guideline changes today. Matt, thank you so much.

Speaker 2: 06:09 Thanks Jay.

Speaker 4: 06:15 It's been just over a year since the world health organization declared COVID-19 a global pandemic few could have imagined the toll. The virus would take more than two and a half million people have lost their lives around the world, nearly 530,000 here in the U S healthcare systems everywhere are faced with enormous challenges as part of our series pandemic life. One year on KPBS reporter John Carroll looks at the impact on San Diego county's health care providers.

Speaker 5: 06:46 They are the places we go when we're sick from broken bones to heart attacks, hospitals, and the healthcare professionals that work in them are always ready. 24 seven to help restore us to health. But last spring, a new challenge emerged a novel coronavirus, novel, new something that outside of research labs, no one had ever seen before.

Speaker 2: 07:08 It caught our attention big time when, um, it was announced that the U S refugees were going to be flowing, uh, from UConn China to Miramar air station.

Speaker 5: 07:18 That was February 7th of last year, Scripps health president and CEO, Chris van Gorder realized back then his institution would play an important role in what was to come at that point. There were 76,000 cases of COVID-19 worldwide, more than 2100 deaths shortly thereafter. Actually it was March 9th, early on the CDC was telling Americans not to buy in 95 masks or the surgical ones that have now become so familiar. The concern being there wouldn't be enough for doctors, nurses, and other healthcare professionals that guidance from the CDC didn't change until April. When the agency recommended people start wearing cloth, facial coverings, the who eventually followed suit in June, even after all that the president of the United States refused to wear a mask in public here in San Diego, Brett McLean was just beginning his job as chief operating officer of sharp healthcare.

Speaker 2: 08:15 We have a committee called the hid highly infectious disease committee.

Speaker 5: 08:20 McLean says in late February, the committee began meeting every day, constantly assessing the fluid situation

Speaker 2: 08:27 Throughout the entire pandemic. We dealt with all the things around, you know, the right medications and, you know, vent utilization and staff

Speaker 5: 08:36 As a sign of just how much things have improved that committee is now meeting once every two weeks for the majority of this pandemic masking hand-washing and physical distancing were all we had to prevent getting infected, but then came the vaccines important work on the science behind them was done right here with the Johnson Johnson vaccine tested a national city. Now the vaccine supply is rising fast. President Biden said in his address to the nation last week that every American adult will be eligible to get a vaccine. By May 1st, the president said every adult who wants a vaccine should be able to have gotten one by the end of may. But the challenge has been to get those vaccines into people's arms. San Diego County has opened vaccination, pods and super stations throughout the region, but the vaccination program has been disrupted by problems, ranging from difficulties in getting appointments to vaccine shortages, to the weather forcing shutdowns late last month, the state designated blue shield to transition the state's existing provider network to a new enhanced to network, which is supposed to take the amount of vaccines administered per week from one to 4 million.

Speaker 5: 09:46 By the end of March, Chris van Gorder says, things are not going well so far, and that's caused problems for them at their Del Mar Supersite

Speaker 6: 09:55 Flawed supply chain process I've ever seen. We have no idea how much we're going to get any, any particular week

Speaker 5: 10:01 Steel COVID has brought some silver linings to healthcare. We know a lot more about how to treat it now than a year ago. And innovations made necessary by the pandemic are likely to have a lasting positive impact

Speaker 6: 10:14 Until the pandemic started. We had maybe done a half a dozen or two dozen telemedicine visits, and literally we were doing tens of thousands of telemedicine visits within weeks.

Speaker 5: 10:23 So now a year later, what a difference 365 days or so make the vaccine supply is ramping up fast and what everyone from the president on down to local health care folks are hoping for pleading with. All of us to do is stick with the non medicinal safety measures, different paths forged together to finally get us all out of this. Once in a century collective crisis, John Carroll, KPBS news,

Speaker 4: 10:52 Just like the pandemic itself, the COVID-19 virus can have long-term consequences and estimated 10% of people who've been sickened by the virus have developed what's being called long COVID and array of symptoms that linger sometimes months after their initial illness, a new clinic has been established by UC San Diego to treat these COVID long haulers and research how the virus can cause these long-term effects. Joining me is Dr. Lucy Horton, founder of UC San Diego. Health's post acute COVID-19 telemedicine clinic and Dr. Horton, welcome to the program. Thank you so much for having me here. I said about 10% of COVID patients develop lingering symptoms. Is that right? I've heard the percentage could be higher.

Speaker 6: 11:39 Great question. So there's not a lot of great data on it. Reports have estimated between 10 to 30%, but I suspect that we're really only seeing the tip of the iceberg here. Uh, there's probably a lot more patients that are suffering from long COVID, who just haven't presented to care yet, or aren't aware that their symptoms are those of long COVID.

Speaker 4: 12:02 What are the most common complaints and complications that you're seeing in people who've recovered from COVID, but have these long-term complications? Well, the symptoms

Speaker 6: 12:13 Vary greatly among patients and they really, um, reach the whole spectrum in terms of different organ systems involved. Some of the most common symptoms we see are persistent fatigue, reduced exercise tolerance, uh, post exertional, malaise feeling really exhausted and crummy after minimal activity. Um, there are neurologic components like brain fog, headaches, difficulty with memory or concentrating. Uh, we see some cardiovascular effects. So, uh, issues with rapid heart rate, um, difficulty controlling the blood pressure. There are some lingering respiratory symptoms in some patients, for example, chronic cough development of asthma, difficulty breathing. Some patients may have chronic nausea, diarrhea, you know, there's really quite a range of symptoms. I think the ones that really, um, are the most prominent that the majority of patients experience is some form of fatigue and muscle ache and, um, the sensation of brain fog.

Speaker 4: 13:23 Yeah. Can you describe that brain fog that lingers for some people? How does it affect people's lives?

Speaker 6: 13:31 Yeah, it's a really concerning symptom because it really does affect people's ability to return to their, um, pre COVID lives. Uh, the brain fog is often described to me by patients as feeling like, um, they're just not as sharp as they used to be. Um, their, their reactions are delayed. Um, I'll give you an example. I had a patient who, um, told me that she had set up a zoom meeting with colleagues and when she logged on to the zoom meeting, she just couldn't remember why she had even set up the meeting and she had to ask them, why are we meeting? And that caused a lot of distress. You know, she's worried about I'm losing her job because she's not performing well. And her colleagues are worried about her. You know, people describe, um, getting in their car to go drive somewhere and not really remembering where they're going to drive, um, difficulty concentrating on, um, tasks. Like I've had a couple of patients who are lawyers who say, when they sit down to read some of the legal documents, they it's very exhausting and fatiguing, um, because they're trying to concentrate and they just feel like they're not as sharp as they used to be.

Speaker 4: 14:37 Dr. Horton are the people who suffer from long. COVID the same high risk individuals for a serious COVID illness. And I'm talking about people over 65 with underlying conditions. So there are

Speaker 6: 14:49 Some of those patients, those high risk patients who may have been hospitalized, who might've even been in the intensive care unit who have persistent symptoms. Um, but the majority of the patients that we're seeing with more of the classic long COVID actually had mild to moderate disease. So most of them, um, were never hospitalized, never needed to go to the emergency room. Um, a lot of them come from younger age groups. So people in their twenties to fifties who didn't really have a lot of underlying conditions, um, we definitely do not see as many who have those kinds of high-risk conditions like diabetes, obesity, immunocompromise. Um, I will not that some of those, um, patients who had the more severe disease who are high risk, they may continue to have symptoms, um, more related to the severity of their initial illness and the fact that they were in the ICU. Um, and so there is a little bit of an overlap in the two, um, conditions at times,

Speaker 4: 15:48 Does getting a COVID vaccine help resolve long COVID symptoms.

Speaker 6: 15:53 I have seen anecdotal reports from across the country of patients who report improvement or even complete resolution of their symptoms after getting a vaccine. Um, we just don't have a lot of experience here since very few of our long COVID patients have been vaccinated yet. Um, but if it does in fact provide some therapeutic benefit to them, I think that would be wonderful. And you know, just another great reason to get vaccinated.

Speaker 4: 16:21 Now you've told us that many of the people suffering from long COVID don't fit the profile of high-risk individuals, they tend to be younger. And that kind of flies in the face of the idea that COVID is not really risky for younger people. Doesn't it?

Speaker 6: 16:37 It certainly does. And if there's one message I can give to younger people who, you know, don't think that COVID is going to affect them and may not be that concerned about catching COVID. Um, I would, you know, educate them about the potential of, you know, progressing to becoming a long hauler, um, and getting these symptoms. I think it's really quite concerning how many younger, healthier people have developed long COVID. And we really don't have a good understanding at this point, why that is and what are the underlying risk factors for developing one COVID. So really everyone is at risk and everyone should continue to protect themselves as best as possible.

Speaker 4: 17:18 And do we know how long, long COVID actually is?

Speaker 6: 17:23 We don't? So, you know, we've only known this virus for about 15 months now, so I can tell you that some people have symptoms past a year, but we really don't know if it's going to last a lot longer it's suspect based on what we know about other chronic conditions or chronic sequella of viral infections, that there is going to be a small subset that may have symptoms their entire life. Um, there'll also

Speaker 4: 17:50 Be a good number who hopefully would recover. Um, you know, within one to three years, I've been speaking with Dr. Lucy Horton. She is founder of UC San Diego. Health's post acute COVID-19 telemedicine clinic. Dr. Horton. Thank you very much. Thank you so much. Have a wonderful day. This is KPBS midday edition. I'm Maureen Kavanaugh with Jade. Heinemann almost a month after the Biden administration launched a program to process some asylum seekers along the Southern border. Hundreds of people are now camped outside of the San Ysidro port of entry, KPBS reporter max Rivlin Nather spoke with people there as they waited for their chance to claim asylum.

Speaker 7: 18:42 Marjorie [inaudible] has been living in Tiquana for a year after fleeing Honduras with her daughter almost a month ago, she told me she would stay outside the Santa seizure port of entry for as long as it took for the Biden administration to allow her to claim asylum in the U S last Friday, she was still there. She said it's been tough because of the rain. Her clothes are now wet. There's been freezing temperatures at night and in the morning

Speaker 3: 19:10 [inaudible]

Speaker 7: 19:10 Is not alone. Hundreds of other asylum seekers are now camped out at El Chapo at all, uh, Plaza on the Mexican side of the Santa seizure, port of entry. There's some of the thousands of asylum seekers stuck in Tijuana who have been prevented from applying for asylum in the United States because of a Trump era rule, barring their entry. The Biden administration for the most part has kept that rule in place citing the pandemic that leaves thousands of asylum seekers, many who don't qualify to be processed under the Biden program without any idea of when they'll be allowed into the U S and camping out, waiting for information,

Speaker 3: 19:45 Uh, those that have decided to remain to stay. I want you to remain until they have answers.

Speaker 7: 19:50 Ian Philabaum is with innovation law lab, which advocates on behalf of asylum,

Speaker 3: 19:55 The absence of a coordinated dissemination and distribution of information about what that might look like is the number one reason that this cap currently exists

Speaker 7: 20:09 On Friday morning at the camp, there was a flurry of activity. The kitchen was distributing. Food doctors from Tijuana were looking into the health of migrants and school was in session being led by asylum seekers. Who've been teachers in their home country, 26 year old. Evelyn Sanchez is one of the teachers

Speaker 3: 20:28 [inaudible].

Speaker 7: 20:29 She said she feels that the children experienced stress because of the situation they're living through. And to wait for them to relax in school, see said, they're not necessarily going to learn to write, learn letters or numbers. They're going to share with their fellow classmates. They share their life experiences.

Speaker 7: 20:48 She feels that people like her are common in the camera. People with something to provide that someone put it on my head. She says, they're educated people with principles with values, and what they want for themselves is what they want for their children. And if they're there in Mexico, they're not just a nuisance or society's garbage, they're simply migrants. And they have rights rights. The same as everyone else. In the first few days of the camp, security was an issue as provocateurs and traffickers spread misinformation. Now the campus watched over by a group of volunteers, including Marco Garcia, also from Honduras.

Speaker 7: 21:29 He said that when he came to the camp, he saw the need that no one was taking care of them. So we took initiative and got a safety vest and put it on. When people saw he was helping, they joined in well, many asylum seekers in the camper from central America, especially Honduras. There are people from across the world, including many Haitians, some of whom have recently arrived in Tijuana as the political situation in their country continues to deteriorate. John Claude. Jean spent five years in Chile after being targeted by organized crime and Haiti [inaudible]. He told me that his mother had already been killed by people looking for him. For that reason. He came to Tijuana. If you arrived in Haiti today, tomorrow he'd be dead.

Speaker 7: 22:13 Right now, the Biden administration is focused on finding shelter for the rising numbers of unaccompanied children arriving at the Southwest border. I asked Marjorie [inaudible], who wants to be at the port of entry. The second change in policy is announced if she would ever think about sending her young daughter, Angie ahead, without her. That's why she's here. She told me to be legal. She's asking for help. And she's asking that Biden help her, her daughter, and every one of them there. She thinks that her daughter and her are in danger in Honduras and are very afraid of going back. She tells me she wants help or just some sort of plan to come soon.

Speaker 4: 22:50 Joining me as KPBS reporter max Revlon, Adler, max. Welcome. Good to be here. Now, the woman you profile in your story, Marjorie [inaudible] is now living in a camp by the San Ysidro border. Where had she been living in Tijuana before this vigil?

Speaker 7: 23:06 So she had been living and a series of shelters. She had been selling ice cream on the street. It was a very marginal and insecure situation, but she had given that up over three weeks ago now to come to the border under the impression that she would be able to apply for asylum or at least get on a list that would help her apply for asylum. That had been the informal way that people had gotten online to wait for asylum before the Trump administration effectively closed the border, uh, a year ago,

Speaker 4: 23:39 I think the status of the Biden border reforms is confusing. At this point, there are some asylum seekers who've been allowed entry into the U S isn't that right?

Speaker 8: 23:49 Yeah. And it's suddenly confusing to us. It's confusing to asylum seekers as well. So the only people right now along the Southwest border, who can apply for asylum are people who have been sent back under the remain in Mexico policy. This is ironic because the remaining Mexican policy actually effectively ended asylum for a lot of people by saying that they had to stay in dangerous border cities while their court cases were processed in the United States. So only those people can apply. And right now the numbers are still pretty low. Um, just a couple hundred people have been processed at the San Ysidro port of entry, and there's still thousands and thousands more that are waiting to be processed. People who are not put in, remain in Mexico and people who have asylum claims that basically have never been interacted with by customs and border protection. They're not eligible right now to apply for asylum because the border is still closed under this thing known as title 42. So a lot of the people that are at this camp have never applied for asylum before,

Speaker 4: 24:48 Right? And then instead of the administration's attention being at San Ysidro or towards asylum seekers right now, it seems to be finding a way to house the increased number of unaccompanied children at the border. Can you tell us about that situation?

Speaker 8: 25:03 Right. So one of the major changes that the Biden administration has already done is that they are no longer under title 42 returning the vast majority or a good number of unaccompanied children back to Mexico under the Trump administration under title 42. If you were a child, no matter what age, the vast majority were just turned back to Mexico or turned back in other parts of Mexico right now, a lot of children are getting through. The big issue is that border patrol does not right now have the facilities to house this many children. So a lot of attention is being paid to the conditions once again, where it seems year after year, uh, there was a surge of children at the border and border patrol says they're not ready for this situation. And this has a lot of people asking questions. Why don't we learn from the last few times that this happened over how we can surge resources to the border to allow for accommodations for children?

Speaker 4: 25:53 There has been criticism about how those children are being sheltered, comparing it even to Trump era cages,

Speaker 8: 26:01 Right? So there are certain rules that really dictate, uh, and settlements and court rulings that dictate the treatment of children in border patrol custody. They're not supposed to stay there for longer than three days. They're supposed to be given shampoo. They're supposed to be given, uh, cleanli product. Um, and a lot of times that doesn't happen because a lot of times these are outposts deep in the desert and border patrol actually has misused funds that were given to border patrol to, uh, work with children, to, to give them necessary equipment, um, and spending it instead on things like ATVs and, and kind of gizmos and gadgets for border patrol agents. So that was direct funding that Congress had given them that they misspent. So now these children staying in these border patrol facilities that aren't equipped, and then they're there right now, the Biden administration is trying to find a way to get them out of that sooner, because for a lot of these kids, if they're eight, nine years old and you get asked, Hey, where's your family in the U S it's going to take a while to figure out how to reconvene you with your family or get you to a sponsor.

Speaker 8: 27:03 And you're going to have to be in government custody for much longer than 72 hours.

Speaker 4: 27:09 Now, when it comes to the people now waiting in the migrant camp, near the San Ysidro border, is there really no us plan right now to accept these asylum seekers

Speaker 8: 27:19 Right now there isn't. And this is unprecedented because the right now asylum effectively is closed at the U S border. And that's something that the department of Homeland security has said. It says the F the front is closed. The border is closed. So there is no plan right now. And a lot of these asylum seekers just want to be given a timeline. But right now, the focus is on children and processing people who had been returned to Mexico.

Speaker 4: 27:41 Now, your report max gives us a glimpse into the lives of individuals waiting in this camp. These are human beings with talents and skills who have escaped terrible situations. Do you think that reality usually gets lost when we talk about migrants at the border?

Speaker 8: 27:59 Absolutely. I think in terms of reporting, we need a lot more focus on why people are leaving and how this has really impacted every part of civil society in many of these countries, not only central America, but Cameroon. These are global situations that the U S is intimately involved in. If you look at central America, uh, you know, you can trace back a lot of the reasons why people are leaving to climate change, you know, governments that have been supported by the United States. This is a kind of a nuanced view of why people are leaving, as opposed to people are just coming here for work, or, you know, they think that they can make more money in the West. People are leaving for safety and opportunities and opportunities, basically that they're being deprived of by not being able to apply for asylum at the very least to have their claims looked at. Because right now there is no process for them.

Speaker 4: 28:54 I've been speaking with KPBS reporter, max Rivlin, Nadler, and max, thank you. Thank you.

Speaker 1: 29:09 This time, last year, many people who worked in offices packed up their computers and headed home to fix up makeshift workspaces. Other people who had to continue going to work did so at the risk of their health and the health of their families. Many others have lost their jobs, and don't know if those jobs will ever come back. Joining me to discuss how the pandemic has changed. The future of work is San Diego workforce partnership, senior economist, Daniel, and Mark. Daniel. Welcome. Thanks for having me. So once we start fully opening up, do you think those with office jobs will continue to work remotely?

Speaker 9: 29:46 I would say that there's a lot of path dependency in this question of whether people continue to work from home. And, and what I mean by that, when I say path dependency is that it might be that some businesses, some leading businesses choose to let their workers work from home indefinitely and other businesses will have to respond in kind, um, you know, to remain competitive and employment. And we've already seen some of that with companies like Salesforce and Facebook, and, you know, a lot of tech companies certainly saying we're moving to indefinite flexibility to work remotely if people so choose. Hmm.

Speaker 1: 30:30 And what do you think, um, working remotely has taught us?

Speaker 9: 30:33 I think that the best lesson from working remotely is that workers are human beings and that we all have families and lives and that work needs to fit within those lives and adjust to and accommodate for those lives. And, you know, when we see people's cats and dogs and children and spouses in the background of a zoom call, it's, it's harder to ignore the fact that we all have competing demands on our time and attention. And so, uh, I think greater flexibility in this time is the biggest learning. It's the biggest space of growth in terms of improving work culture.

Speaker 1: 31:17 Hmm. At the beginning of the pandemic, employers talked a whole lot about increased productivity due to remote work. Do you think that that will continue once the state is fully open again? I mean, there aren't as many distractions at the moment, but as soon as summer rolls around,

Speaker 9: 31:33 I think that choice is always good. You know, some people say we've not been working from home, we've been stuck at home trying to get work done. And so getting to a place where workers have the option of going into the office when that's helpful and of working remotely, when that's helpful, that's where you're going to get the greatest productivity is when workers have some say over their work environment, obviously in collaboration with their managers and their teams. But, you know, there are some jobs that are perfectly capable of being done and some components of jobs that are perfectly, perfectly amenable to remote work. And then there are other components of the job that really do require us to get together face to face. So I think having that flexibility is what will be great about reopening the economy will not be remote by default or remote because we have to, it will be remote by choice and that's a totally different thing.

Speaker 1: 32:32 Hmm. How do you think the need for less office space will impact San Diego's economy as a whole? I don't think know yet. I

Speaker 9: 32:40 Certainly have talked to some employers who have tried to get out of leases some successfully and some unsuccessfully. I wouldn't want to be getting into the commercial real estate market right now, but that doesn't necessarily mean that the market's going away or that, you know, there's going to be a dramatic decrease in demand for office space. But I would say that we'll see more innovation in that world moving forward, you know, more localized, shared workspaces. We shouldn't expect the work culture to look the same after the pandemic, as it looked before.

Speaker 1: 33:21 Speaking of which, you know, we've talked a lot about remote work, but not all jobs can be done remotely. What are some of the ways the pandemic has changed in-person work?

Speaker 9: 33:29 Yeah. A lot of in-person jobs have become harder during the pandemic. Partly because these days, especially people who are frontline, retail, food service, et cetera, workers are both doing their job and enforcing public health guidelines, which is just crazy. It'll be really great when we move back to a world where enough people are vaccinated that your local grocery store clerk doesn't have to ask somebody to put their mask back on while they're checking out. Um, that's a, that's a stress that we shouldn't be asking those workers to take on. And it's something that I think is, uh, a real will be a real positive development of increased vaccination work has been a hard for people who have to go into work and deal with people and take on the risks, the health risks of being exposed to COVID. But, but you know, that's a, that's a time for this present that is declining every day and that hopefully will go away.

Speaker 1: 34:35 What are some of the industries that you think will be forever changed by this pandemic?

Speaker 9: 34:40 Uh, a recent report by McKinsey suggested that the last thing to recover will be things like industry conferences, trade shows, exhibitions, and those things are important to San Diego's tourism economy. You know, that convention center exists for events like that. And what does it look like in a world where what used to need to be at a conference or at least some kind of business travel can now be a zoom call. So I think the need for travel will decline, especially in the business world. In the short term, you know, one thing that's a potential positive is savings rates are at an all time high. So there's a lot of pent up demand for food services, retail, you know, these kinds of experiences that we used to really enjoy going out to the movies and having dinner, you know, and so, you know, in this short term, I would expect there to be a really development as we open up our economy to people having plenty of savings and wanting to spend some and missing some of those great experiences, then, you know, let let's hope that the restaurant economy is booming, um, in the coming months.

Speaker 9: 35:51 But I think travel and tourism is really where we'll see the biggest decline.

Speaker 1: 35:56 How has this pandemic widened the gap between low wage and high wage workers?

Speaker 9: 36:01 If you look at a work and you divided it into high wage and medium wage and low wage work, high wage work, which is anything over 60,000, employment's actually up in January, 2021 compared to January, 2020, it's at 4% medium wage work, 27 to $60,000 is only down 2%, but low wage work, people who are making less than $27,000 employment in low wage work is down 30% year on year. So the vast majority of people who've been affected by pandemic on employment, particularly since July have been low wage workers and not just any low wage workers, workers, and leisure and hospitality sector workers with less than a high school diploma, uh, workers who are black and Hispanic and young workers. So there are certain segments of the economy that have been really negatively impacted. And in any effort to recover, it's got to focus on the people who have been most impacted by pandemic unemployment.

Speaker 1: 37:07 I've been speaking with Daniel and Mark workforces, senior economist, Daniel. Thank you so much for joining.

Speaker 9: 37:12 Thanks for having me. I really appreciate it.

Speaker 1: 37:23 You are listening to KPBS midday edition. I'm Jade Hindman with Maureen Kavanaugh. We often look to the sea to understand how climate change has impacted our world. For years, oceanographer, Ken McCoy has been studying environmental change in our ocean and in this new book waves and beaches, the powerful dynamics of sea and coast, he offers his insights and perspectives on the fascinating world of ocean science and how it furthers. Our understanding of climate change works is sponsoring an upcoming live discussion of Kim McCoy's book. But before that, he's joining us now, Kim,

Speaker 9: 38:00 Welcome. Thank you, Jane. So start

Speaker 1: 38:02 Off by telling our listeners a little bit about the book.

Speaker 9: 38:06 Well, this is the third edition of a book waves and beaches, and it was accepted and loved by surfers and scientists throughout the last few decades. It was originally published in 64 and I brought it up to date with the significance of climate change and how humans interact in the coastal zone. And that's where the items that are going to be disturbing us from sea level rise are going to hit us the hardest. And the book is something

Speaker 1: 38:36 Of an update of the original publication by Willard Bascom. What about the original book inspired you? And what did you hope to add to this updated edition?

Speaker 10: 38:45 Well, I actually used the book in graduate school and it was almost a little pamphlet at that time. Then the second edition came and I was lucky to have known Willard Bascom quite well. The last couple of years of his life. And he was endeavoring to do a third edition. This edition really focuses on how humans interact with the coastal zone. And it gives a fundamental understanding of how waves are created, how they propagate and how they interact with the coastline. Of course, humans are on the coastline and we want to know what's going to happen to the coastline in this period of climate change.

Speaker 1: 39:25 And of course, a big part of your work deals with climate change. I mean, how has your work and your many travels furthered your understanding of environmental changes on the planet, particularly in the topics of global warming and sea level rise?

Speaker 10: 39:39 Well, I've spent over a year of my life in polar regions. I've done nine trips to those areas and I've spent years of my life at sea, over 40 major field experiments. And when I started out, some of the areas that I went to in the Arctic were extremely difficult. One area to get to one area hadn't been visited since the 1840s and that group died. So in the 1980s, it was very difficult. Now there are cruise ships heading to those areas. So it's drastically changed. I spent a couple months in Antarctica and there the penguin species that have been there for 5,000 years of being displaced by warmer species of penguins as the poles warm. So it's, it's everywhere. The outflow from rivers and Delta formations have completely changed because of how we've dammed the rivers and pulled lots of groundwater out that changes sea level and affects sand dynamics in the coastal region.

Speaker 1: 40:46 And I mean, we know change is inevitable, but it seems like this is all happening at such an accelerated pace.

Speaker 10: 40:52 Well, it is, you know, one proxy for that is how much carbon dioxide is in the atmosphere. And everyone knows if this hot hockey stick, however, we can observe these things very easily and Jakarta Indonesia and the Mekong Delta in Vietnam, the Ganges bomber, preacher Delta in India and Bangladesh and Kiribati in the South Pacific. These things are not fictitious. They are currently occurring where sea level rise is really attacking those, those areas. And some of the groups are just simply ignoring it and other countries full countries have codified it. And that's something that city councils and state assemblies and federal, federal groups need to do that we need to codify that things are occurring along the coast, which means that instead of having a city council debating whether or not they're going to do this or do that, they just simply need to say, okay, when something like this occurs, it is now by law allowed we're allowed to do something. So they don't say who's going to pay for it, things like that. And so that, that change needs to occur.

Speaker 1: 42:07 The updated text, uh, provides perspective on some of the major climate events and disasters of the, of the past 20 years, including the deadly 9.0 earthquake that devastated Japan 10 years ago this week. How do you think our understanding of climate change has evolved in that?

Speaker 10: 42:24 Well, the Tohoku earthquake that caused the disaster at Fukushima had, you know, that's a naturally occurring thing, earthquakes, couldn't not influencing those. However, um, the repercussions of that, the tsunami that struck Fukushima changed global energy policies. It's subtle, but it's incredibly important and not to be ignored. The Japanese decided that they're going to remove nuclear power from their energy slate. Uh, the Germans also passed some laws, pulled nuclear reactors off the energy supply chain, and that needs to be replaced with other forms of energy production. That's because of its tsunami. This book looks at the dynamics of those things and it looks how humans need to react there. The book has a lot of references at the end of the book. So anyone who wants to get more involved, there was quite a bit of information to dig deeper into quite a few subjects.

Speaker 1: 43:30 And what have been some of the most obvious impacts here locally?

Speaker 10: 43:35 Well, uh, not too long ago, we had a collapse along the railroad tracks up near Del Mar. Now that track is the major conduit to the North in and out of San Diego. It collapsed and people start asking, well, who's going to pay for it. There's an estimated cost of about $3 billion. No funding is currently available in this project. If they relocate the tracks should take 10 to 20 years, $3 billion, no funding is currently available. It might take 10 years to repair, but see Lobo creeps along a few millimeters every year.

Speaker 1: 44:16 I'm curious, you know, has COVID-19 affected your ability to carry out your work and research. I mean, it's, it's hard to get much more socially distance than out on the ocean, but I dunno,

Speaker 10: 44:26 Interestingly enough, here at Scripps institution of oceanography in LA Jolla, COVID stopped the entire fleet from going out to sea. So for quite a few months, all the vessels were called back to port and people were disembarked and it was quite a few months until they reassume field deployments. And it's extremely difficult for an oceanographic cruise. You go out and you plan for a year and you throw things overboard and come back in a year or several months later. And oops, Oh wait, we can't use the boat anymore because so, uh, also along the coastal zone, uh, COVID has in a roundabout way, augmented awareness of the coastal zone during the lockdown, the beaches were inundated with humans. Why? Because it's a nice, wonderful, open place where those things are changing and glad it brought awareness to it. But cliffs are collapsing and things such as roads, train tracks, Naval, ship yards, Harbor facilities, coastal businesses. Those things will continue to be in an dated way beyond COVID.

Speaker 1: 45:36 I've been speaking with author and oceanographer, Kim McCoy, Kim, thank you so much for joining us.

Speaker 10: 45:41 Thank you very much Jade for having me.

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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.