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Expert: Pandemic could shift to 'endemic' phase soon

 January 19, 2022 at 5:13 PM PST

Speaker 1: (00:00)

As we enter our third year living in a pandemic, we're talking about mental fatigue.

Speaker 2: (00:05)

The fatigue that's been brought on by the pandemic is completely normal and understandable.

Speaker 1: (00:11)

I'm Cina Kim with Jade Hyman. This is KBB S midday edition. We remember the life and legacy of Tijuana journalist, Marto Martinez, VE

Speaker 3: (00:29)

Somebody like Marto was like an essential person to document these scenes. And I think to have someone go out there, you know, did sort of keep the eyes of the world on an important issue for Tijuana.

Speaker 1: (00:43)

A look at why micro enterprise home kitchens will be popping up around the county. And can you look someone you don't remember a conversation with a local author that's ahead on midday edition.

Speaker 1: (01:01)

As the country used to battle the overwhelming surge of cases, the Biden administration is taking steps to further increase the availability of free test kits and N 95 masks to help mitigate the spread. According to the CDC, the highly contagious variant accounted for 99.5% of all new COVID cases last week. And they predict over 61,000 virus related deaths will occur in the next four weeks after two years, since the first cases of COVID 19 were first confirmed in the United States, experts are saying that the trajectory of the global pandemic might soon move into an endemic phase here to discuss this. And some of our most pressing COVID 19 questions is Dr. Topple director of the scripts research translational Institute in LA Jolla. Dr. Toal welcome back to the program.

Speaker 4: (01:50)

Thanks for, to be with you again,

Speaker 1: (01:52)

Dr. Topel we're entering year three of this global pandemic. What are your thoughts on a growing consensus that we might be entering into an pandemic phase? And what exactly does that mean? Right. Well,

Speaker 4: (02:03)

That's the hope, the hope is that we're gonna see containment of the virus where we'll have outbreaks, but they'll be a Mo size and occasional, not what we've been going through now with a million infections a day. I mean, we, towards end of may and June, we were getting down there to what that level of containment might look like, where it was quiet was some circulating virus, but it was of, you know, modest levels. That would be where we wanna be. That's probably the best we can hope for, for the foreseeable future, but it isn't certain at all. We're so far away from that now. And even though we started to descend in certain places, uh, in the country, there's many other parts of the country that have yet to fully declare. And there's a long way down this descent as we're seeing places like Puerto Rico and, and others. So that's the hope, but, uh, whether we're gonna get there in the weeks ahead is not entirely clear. And one other one other point will, whether we'll stay there, whether, because of our lack of containment around the world, there could be a, yet another variant that could come along, that would be very challenging, that would upset the whole containment theme. So we'll have to see over time.

Speaker 1: (03:14)

Right? And that's my follow up question for you. What role will global vaccine equity play in reaching a more contained stage of the pandemic? Yeah,

Speaker 4: (03:22)

That's really important to stress because we just saw a report today at nature that the death toll for the pandemic is at least three to five times what's been reported. And especially in the countries throughout the world that are in a low and middle income group that are fully under vaccinated still. And so that's where the containment issue is vital because if we don't contain the virus throughout the world, that's where we have the potential to see these variants emerge through evolution of the virus that goes through so many, uh, people, particularly if they're immunocompromised people. So that is a bit concern that we hopefully this year are gonna achieve. You know, we've had almost 10 billion doses of vaccines out there, but they're not at all evenly distributed. That's what we need is to get 20 billion doses out there and hopefully cover, uh, the species as well as we can

Speaker 1: (04:16)

Right now in the midst of Omicron, how do you think greater of a availability of free test kits and N 95 masks will help slow the spread or kind of change the way we're dealing with this current surge?

Speaker 4: (04:28)

Well, it's better than nothing. The fact you can order at least four test kits through the mail and you can pick up in the days ahead, N 95 masks for free at local pharmacies. These are welcome additions, wish they had been instituted months ago, if not, you know, a year ago, however, uh, we still have a lot of, uh, this virus to face perhaps even, uh, a different version in the future. So it's still, it's, it's late, but it's still welcome. And it shows responsiveness of the government to the pleas for having the, these free tests. We need a lot more of them out, out there, as well as the high quality mass that we should be

Speaker 1: (05:07)

Using early on with the spread OFN experts noted that the variant was less likely to lead to hospitalizations. Are we still seeing that or is that beginning to surge as more people get it?

Speaker 4: (05:17)

Yeah, this is a really important misperception to clear up. So a lot of people think because Aron breakthrough infections, people who've been vaccinated two or even three shots are getting Aron infections. Yes, that's true. The protection against infection for vaccines with Aron is not high at all. However, the protection against hospitalizations is about 90% and after three months it drops down to around 80%. That's fantastic. And that's the reason why the booster is so essential. The two shots only are about 50% protection from hospitalization, but the three shots, the booster changes that and almost doubles it. And it actually gets it to protection. That's like the original virus two years ago, whereby the initial vaccines a year ago had 90, 95% protection from hospitalization. So this is really, uh, important to emphasize.

Speaker 1: (06:12)

We continue to see a lot of confusion surrounding best practices for self core. If one has been exposed or, you know, test positive for a test, what would you advise?

Speaker 4: (06:22)

Yeah, this has been very disappointing with CDC because they are not following best practices from other countries the way it works in places that have been relying on rapid tests, uh, throughout the past a year or more in pandemic, we are so far behind that. But for example, in the United Kingdom, you have to have two negative tests. Most people will not be negative by day five. In fact, about a third will not be negative at day five, but starting at day six and day seven, if there's two negative tests, then sure you can leave isolation. But the, the idea that the CDC recommended that after five days, you just go out and wear a mask without testing, that was ludicrous because it does it, it completely defies what has been established best practices around the world.

Speaker 1: (07:11)

I'm glad you brought up the UK and England because many countries are starting to relax. Preventative measures. England may no longer work, acquire a mask in the future because scientists there are saying only Kron has already peaked. What are your thoughts on this approach?

Speaker 4: (07:25)

Well, there was a report from England from the office of national security, so called ons today that showed that the benefit of wearing face masks was substantial for preventing infection. So I don't know how to jive that. Um, I still think that mask particularly K N 95, K N 90 fours, N 95. These high quality masks, indoor gatherings are useful for the time being we have to get through this wave and see if we get to a level of containment. If we get there, then it's a chance to relax, uh, the mask, but we're not anywhere close to, to that point. Yet. Speaking

Speaker 1: (08:00)

Of global research, a recent study from Israel indicates that while a fourth dose of the vaccine will increase antibody levels, it will most likely do little in preventing Omnicon breakthrough infections. What does this data mean for the surge we're currently in?

Speaker 4: (08:14)

Well, this is again where that mix up is because we don't have any data yet from Israel for the fourth, uh, shot. That is the second booster for preventing severe disease, hospitalizations, and deaths. So to jump to any conclusion that the, for shot won't be helpful. It's premature again, Aron is so different from the original virus with over 50 different mutations that we just don't recognize it, it has immune escape. That's why we're seeing all these infections with , but what's different is the booster works through our memory cells, the B and TCEs. And so what we don't know right now is how long does that booster that we took work? Does it last for four months, six months, or does it start to wan? And that's what the question real will get us soon because we have to see the data for protection for hospitalizations. And whether that for shot makes a big difference.

Speaker 1: (09:09)

We said earlier that the CDC anticipates over 61,000 more virus related deaths in the coming weeks. Is it possible to say when we might see the peak of this surge? Well,

Speaker 4: (09:19)

We're averaging 2000 deaths a day right now. So that calculation of 60,000 in the next month has certainly got some basis. The problem is almost every one of those deaths are in people who are UN vaccinating and then there's, uh, smaller, less than 10% or so that were wan because they didn't get a booster. It's all preventable. And that's, what's so pathetic and sad that we have not gotten our vaccination rates and our booster rates as high as they can go. And we're so far away, you know, we're at 62% for vaccination, just a slightly better than that in count, California. And our booster rate is terrible from compared to countries that are at least twice as many people who are eligible are boosted than us. Plus we wait five months, which is only a recent change and it should be four months or even less. The UK is at three months to have a booster. So we're just not pulling out all the stops to prevent the, and hospitalization.

Speaker 1: (10:18)

I've been speaking with Dr. Eric topple, director of the Scripps research translational Institute, Dr. Topple, thank you so much for joining us

Speaker 4: (10:25)

Today. Thanks for having me

Speaker 5: (10:34)

As the coronavirus pandemic on. So do mental health struggles with the pandemic entering its third year and with the variant, bringing a mammoth wave of cases, mental fatigue can be impossible to avoid. I'm joined by marriage and family therapist, Lindsay D moose from sharp MEA Vista to talk about how to help manage pandemic fatigue and the stress that can come I'm with it. Lindsay. Welcome.

Speaker 2: (10:58)

Thank you. Thank you for having me a recent

Speaker 5: (11:01)

Poll found 87% of respondents. Believe there's a mental health crisis in the nation today. Do you agree with that assessment?

Speaker 2: (11:09)

Unfortunately, I do. I think that this pandemic has taken such a significant toll on our collective mental health and has brought a out much fatigue. And so I do think that there is increased awareness about how we overall are significantly struggling. So

Speaker 5: (11:27)

What's important for us to keep in mind when it comes to our mental health.

Speaker 2: (11:31)

I think it's really important to start out by checking in on ourselves, to check in on how we have been experiencing these past two years and the impact that it's caused to us individually. I wanna normalize that the fatigue that's been brought on by the pandemic is completely normal and understandable. We're really not built to be able to sustain and endure this type of ongoing and prolonged stress. So I think giving ourselves the opportunity to really recognize what we're struggling with is the first step in the process of being able to receive support and heal from this terrifying and, and really difficult pandemic. What

Speaker 5: (12:12)

Can people do to help cope with mental fatigue during this ongoing pandemic? It

Speaker 2: (12:17)

Really depends on what you're experiencing. So some people really need to be focusing on ensuring that their physical needs are being met. It might be a matter of looking at any sort of calming strategies that you can employ, whether that's engaging anything exercises or physical activity, but with more persistent, severe symptoms that people could be experiencing professional help may certainly be indicated. So it's really a matter of recognizing the severity of what you've been experiencing over the past two years, going into this third year and receiving support, asking for support.

Speaker 5: (12:57)

You mentioned the importance of recognizing what we've been going through. What are some, some warning signs people wanna look out for not only in their own lives, but, but also with, uh, those of, of our loved ones,

Speaker 2: (13:08)

Just some warning signs to start off with would be feeling fatigued more often than not having sleep problems, a change in your eating habits, a change in your weight or your health feeling a loss of your willpower or control losing interest or having apathy in terms of connecting with others, getting out of the house, even taking lots of time off or, um, drinking more using substances. I also see people having a lot of difficulty in terms of managing their anger, their I irritability being very quick to react. So there's such a wide range of warning signs that we may have otherwise determined were just kind of everyday things that we struggled with, but collectively can be a bigger indication of mental health fatigue that comes with the pandemic.

Speaker 5: (13:56)

How has treating mental health been changed by the pandemic?

Speaker 2: (14:00)

I think that this has really been our time to shine in the field of mental health, which was such a taboo thing in my experience previously. Now, so many people are experiencing and recognizing that they are actually struggling men. And with that, they're taking the opportunity to be able to access resources for mental health. And so it's to the point now where lots of individual practitioners, lots of institutions that have various programs have waiting lists, and this is not something that we've necessarily seen before the pandemic. And so actually the reframe is this has been a, a really phenomenal opportunity to be able to value the impact and the importance of mental health resources and take those opportunities for support.

Speaker 5: (14:49)

Have you noticed any different mental health symptoms in, uh, year two of the pandemic from what you saw in the early days of the pandemic

Speaker 2: (14:56)

At this time last year? I think we had this collective hope that we were going to see some semblance of an end to this with the vaccination rollout. And so we, you know, we had some gas left in the tank to be able to persist and just across the finish line. And now it almost seems like completing year two where it's like we've finished a marathon. And then we're finding out that the race actually hasn't ended and we have another 26.2 miles to go. So for the majority of the population that would really bring about an increased amount of anger, a frustration of overwhelm of sadness and these types of, uh, reactions that we have may be much more chronic and persistent where in year one we saw impacts on mental health being something that could be reversible that could be managed with techniques that one could employ themselves. Now, what we're seeing is that people need a lot more intervention.

Speaker 5: (15:56)

What are, if any, some misconceptions about mental health you've seen during the pandemic?

Speaker 2: (16:01)

I think that people have experienced this misconception, that mental health issues are uncommon. That they're the only ones that are really deeply struggling with pandemic fatigue. I think that people still feel like they'll be judged for using mental health resources and then going back to something that has been an unfortunate tried and true misconception, is that even something like, you know, addiction is coming from a lack of willpower and a character deficit. I think people still have difficulties in and acknowledging that they are among others that are truly struggling with this and that it's okay for them to be able to seek

Speaker 5: (16:40)

Help. We've been talking a lot about the negative impact the pandemic has brought to many of our lives. Are there any positives that jump out to you during this time?

Speaker 2: (16:50)

I think in year two, echoing off of what we you've experienced in year one, the importance of maintaining connection of being able to look at how we can employ different health routines and solidify structure with our lives. I think if we've been able to maintain or get back to those practices, people see a significant impact. So, um, there a sense of community and connection that can come from using those tools. And like I said earlier, I think a big bonus that has come from the pandemic has been recognizing that we all are struggling and that there are actually, uh, resources and support systems in place to be able to guide us through that process and not having to do that alone. You

Speaker 5: (17:35)

Mentioned resources, what are they? And, uh, how are they available to people who are struggling with their mental health?

Speaker 2: (17:42)

I personally think that the it's up to us campaign that the San Diego county has, uh, utilized for a long time is a great resource for accessing San Diego's available support system. And that's at up to U I also coming from sharp Mac Vista know that we have such a wide range of, of resources, whether it's inpatient care intensive, outpatient care that we have available to the majority of San Diego county, even utilizing the employee assistant program from your employer is such a helpful resource that many of us have forgotten about over the years. And lots of those EAP programs have very short wait times to be able to seek therapeutic support from a provider.

Speaker 5: (18:27)

I've been speaking with Lindsay to a licensed marriage and family therapist with sharp me Vista Lindsay. Thank you.

Speaker 2: (18:34)

Thank you Jade for having me.

Speaker 5: (18:44)

You're listening to K PBS midday edition. I'm Jade Henman with Christina Kim. Maureen is off Aqua photojournalist was shot to death outside of his home Monday before heading to work margarita Martinez, esque, Val covered crime and security issues in TJ. He worked as a journalist and fixer across different outlets, including BBC the Los Angeles times and the San Diego union Tribune, Sandra DL from reunion Tribune reporter who covered the Tijuana area for decades said without Martinez's work a lot of murders, would've gone unreported

Speaker 3: (19:19)

Somebody like Marto was like an essential person to document these scenes. And I think to have someone go out there, um, you know, did sort of keep the eyes of the, on, on an important issue for Tijuana that otherwise would be easy

Speaker 5: (19:36)

To overlook. Now, esky Val's murder has shaken up many in the area and industry K PBS investigative border reporter, Gustavo Sallis crossed paths with esky Val to cover the region and joins us now. Gustavo, welcome. Hello, Jade. First I am. I'm sorry to hear about your colleague. Tell us about margarita and his career as a photojournalist over the years.

Speaker 6: (19:58)

Thank you. Um, and yeah, Marto, actually, he got a late start to journalism. He, he didn't start covering crime until he was 30. Uh, and it was because of his mom who was also a journalist in Tijuana. I, I remember Marto telling me about the first time he took a picture of a body. He was out shopping with his mom when all of a sudden they heard gunfire, uh, down the street. And obviously most people ran. And I remember Marita saying like a normal mom would've told her son to run, but my mom was an, a normal mom. She was a journalist and his mom told him to grab a camera and head to the scene, which he did. And I think from there, he just in love with the Russian excitement of covering crime in one of the most dangerous cities in the world, Marto had a reputation for being the first at this scene. Sometimes the only one at this scene, he really earned a trust of local police officers who would tip him off and he helped other journalists too. One of the things that stood out about him is he was always smiling, even though he was just surrounded by death and covering the most gruesome things in Tijuana. And at the time of his death, Marto, I believe was freelancing for seven different publications. So he definitely left a big void in terms of coverage over there,

Speaker 5: (21:02)

You mentioned that he was a fixer one of the unsung row of the journalism industry. Can you tell us about his role in the cross border journalism community?

Speaker 6: (21:11)

Yeah. Well, for those who don't follow the industry, fixers are people who journalists call whenever they travel to places that they haven't been before. So think of someone like the BBC coming from great Britain to Tijuana to report on the city's murder rate, those journalists who aren't local, they don't have the sources. They don't know the city, how to get around which neighborhoods to avoid or who to talk to. So they rely on fixers like mad local journalists who are sort of their guide, right? The fixers will hook them up with contacts, uh, information only locals who have years of experience would have, they do all of the heavy lifting behind the scenes, but they don't really get any of the recognition or glory or right. They don't appear on TV, their bylines aren't on the story. But like you said, right, Margarito worked with journalists from New York, uh, Los Angeles, Italy, Germany, all over the world. And in, especially in Mexico journalists, don't often get paid a lot. So in some cases they made more money as fixers than, than reporters.

Speaker 5: (22:04)

What do you know about the incidents so far? Well,

Speaker 6: (22:07)

We don't much right now, right? We know the basics. He was shot outside his home. Uh, Monday morning as he was heading to work, police haven't publicly identified any suspects. Although there are a lot of rumors and theories, uh, circulating. We do know that Maria's death has gotten a lot of attention really throughout Mexico and internationally, uh, as well, just because of his reputation of being, uh, the go-to crime guy in Tijuana, but, you know, elected officials like the mayor of Tijuana, the governor of Baja, California, all the way up to the president of Mexico have called for justice. They say they wanna try to find the killer. Although it's important to note that the odds are, are stacked against him, right? I mean, most of murders in Mexico and really violent crime goes unsolved. The, the Washington post reported a few years ago that as much as 98% of all violent crime in Mexico, including murders go unsolved, were

Speaker 5: (22:56)

There any recent signs that esky VE was being threatened?

Speaker 6: (23:00)

It's been reported that he did face some threats while he was streaming on Facebook live. Uh, and he did file a complaint about that with the officials. I do know Mexico has a federal government protection program for journalists. Uh, and it's been said that Margarito was in the process of applying for that protection, but obviously didn't get it, or it wasn't effective enough to save his life on Monday. Do

Speaker 5: (23:24)

You know if authorities are looking into the possibility that his murder was an attempt to silence him and stop something he was working on?

Speaker 6: (23:31)

I think it's definitely a possibility, although it hasn't really been verified, uh, it wouldn't be out of the ordinary, you know, reporters are killed in Mexico at a, at a really high rate. So I'd say it's a possibility, but it's too early to tell. We don't really have enough information to definitively say what the motive was. And

Speaker 5: (23:47)

Talk a bit more about the climate for journalists in Mexico. I mean, globally journalism is dangerous work. How does Mexico stack up

Speaker 6: (23:55)

It stacks up there with countries that are active war zones, and then that's not hyperbole, right? The, uh, committee to protect journalists counts the numbers of killings around the world. Uh, and they consider it one of the most dangerous places, uh, outside of active war zones. The committee to protect journalists have counted 134 killings of reporters in Mexico since 1992. Uh, other organizations that track this reported more about one 50 or so. And that is part of the reason why Matos, that's getting so much attention in and outside of Mexico. He's the second journalist to be killed so far this year. And it's only the 19th of January. The other one was Gabo who was found, uh, with stab wounds in VTA Cruz. Is

Speaker 5: (24:38)

There any effort to stop these violent crimes?

Speaker 6: (24:41)

I mean, not much, right. We, we talked about some of the protections for journalists. There's talk about expanding those, but Margarito is working in, in one of the most dangerous cities in Mexico. Uh, he lived in, in a dangerous neighborhood and, and exposed himself to that risk. Um, I think a lot of the sadness and frustration from journalists in Mexico is that there isn't really that much that's being done to protect journalists over there. There there's a sense of outrage and indignation, but there is in a sense of, you know, Marto will be the last one, right? They kind of expect it to happen again, if not in Tiquan in other parts of Mexico, which is kind of the, the tragedy in all this, I think a lot of the attention right now is going to be focused on trying to honor Martos death by really providing better protection for journalists, at least raising more awareness or helping out in any way they can. I mean, the most immediate example for Marto is a GoFundMe page that they set up for, for his family, his, his widow and 16 year old daughter who unfortunately are left to live without him.

Speaker 5: (25:43)

I've been speaking with K PBS, investigative board, a reporter, Gustavo Salise Gustavo. Thank you very much.

Speaker 6: (25:50)

Thank you. Jade

Speaker 1: (26:06)

Micro enterprise home kitchen operations, or Mickos could soon become legal in San Diego county, the county board of supervisors unanimously voted last week to begin legalizing these home kitchens, which until now have been operating in something of a gray zone since being introduced a few years ago, leaving local entrepreneurs like Rosalyn Johnson who opened Claire's kitchen after she was laid off from her job, confused,

Speaker 7: (26:30)

It was okay for you to do it. I thought I got my business license. I got my food certification, got my cell permit. I thought that I was ready to go and find out I wasn't

Speaker 1: (26:43)

KBB S speaks city Heights, reporter Jacob air has been following this story and the people behind the county's Migos. And he joins me now for more. Hey Jacob.

Speaker 8: (26:51)

Hey Christina. Thanks for having me on first

Speaker 1: (26:54)

And foremost, what exactly is a micro enterprise home kitchen? What does it generally look like? And what restrictions does it have in terms of what type of food it can serve and how many people it can serve?

Speaker 8: (27:05)

So in general, a micro enterprise home kitchen, new type of food facility that can operate out of a private home, uh, cooks are gonna prepare, cook and serve food to consumers all on the same day. And that can be through delivery, take out Orine in the home. And then in terms of foods that they can serve, it's really, as long as within health and safety standards, you can try what you want.

Speaker 1: (27:28)

So this is a little bit of an expansion of that cottage food operation, right? Which was only allowing for certain baked goods. Is, is that right? Well,

Speaker 8: (27:35)

I would say this is different in the fact that with the Migos, which they're commonly referred to this, isn't just a limitation of baked goods. You can be fully cooking, uh, whether it's a gumbo like Rosalyn was doing, or whether it's, uh, international food, like Delilah who the other woman I spoke to was

Speaker 1: (27:55)

Cooking. I know you spoke with several people who run Migos. We heard from Rosalyn at the top. And as you just mentioned, you spoke to Delilah Davis of paradise Hills. Here's what she had to tell you.

Speaker 9: (28:04)

This is like the perfect opportunity for me to be able to go into business, generate cash in order to establish a business.

Speaker 1: (28:13)

What do we know of the people that are more likely to start Nicos and why is this a good business option for them? Uh,

Speaker 8: (28:20)

So for people who are looking to start AMCO, this is business option because first of all, oftentimes these are people who are at a disadvantage themselves or live in disadvantaged communities. This creates another PLA path to supplementing family income. In the case of Delilah, she's a disabled veteran. And for her cooking for others was her primary way of now earning an income to support her family. So what are

Speaker 1: (28:43)

Supporters of Miko saying are the advantages of legalizing them? What are the greater social impacts of these types of industries

Speaker 8: (28:50)

In general? There's actually quite a few in terms of what supporters say are benefits of these Migos. Um, there's economic opportunities for small scale, home cooking operations, and what Dalla said herself, and what supporters across the board generally say is this primary helps women immigrants and people of color. Another thing that Mickos do is enable family members to provide in-home care, whether they're taking care of someone who's disabled, uh, or an older relative, and that way they can still earn the income. Other things that supporters say this can help with is to alleviate some of the stress caused by the COVID 19 pandemic and supply a different means for family income and a couple other things, um, would just be to help food service operations, perhaps in remote locations or letting even local entrepreneurs and restaurant tours try different things on a small scale menu before they take it to a brick and mortar or a, uh, a cart operation

Speaker 1: (29:49)

Nearby Riverside county already legalized these types of kitchens two years ago. What lessons can San Diego county learn from their rollout?

Speaker 8: (29:58)

So yesterday I didn't of voice I didn't include was Karen Melvin she's in charge of the San Diego micro enterprise home kitchen coalition. And she said since Riverside county allowed the Migos back two years ago, there have been zero food safety complaints and only two nuisance complaints. So I think in terms of the health and safety, um, it's just keeping up what Riverside's doing. One thing that was brought up by Roland was that perhaps traffic backup at these new spots where these Migos will be held in garbage disposal, those may become an issues in her mind. Um, as we're explaining how to legally set up the operations to many of the people who want to get involved. So maybe that's where the county or other, uh, government entities need to step in and create pilot programs or, or programs to help teach people how to get started.

Speaker 1: (30:44)

Are there any people who are opposed to Nicos and really, do you anticipate there being any challenges in enforcing health and safety standards in these home kitchens?

Speaker 8: (30:53)

There are people opposed, um, most who are say that they have less enforced health standards or that they could harm brick and mortar rest run operations, or perhaps, uh, like carts or car, uh, restaurant operations. So far, the data has not shown that's true in terms of health and safety or harming other restaurants, Migos, at least from the data so far are just adding another option in a, in a health, in a healthy and safe way for people to locally support their community.

Speaker 1: (31:26)

As I mentioned, the board of supervisors voted just last week, making the way for legal Migos. So what's next. And when can we expect to see more of them?

Speaker 8: (31:36)

So the second ordinance reading to allow these micro enterprise home kitchens, uh, in the county will come during the board's use meeting on January 26th. So just in about a week now, if the board then votes in favor, Miko will be allowed to operate within 30 days. So we're looking at the end of, uh, February for that. And then the trial program will last at least two years across the region. After that point, it will be decided what happens.

Speaker 1: (32:01)

I've been speaking with KBB S speak city Heights, reporter Jacob air. Thank you so much, Jacob. Thank you.

Speaker 5: (32:14)

Tucked away in Southeast San Diego is a hidden stairway that for years has been neglected, but now as KPBS, race and equity reporter, Christina Kim, the hidden gem is being revitalized for and by the community.

Speaker 1: (32:29)

If you dunno what you're looking for, chances are you might just walk by Valencia Park's secret stairs. It gets the heart pump, and I'm telling you the more than 150 stairs connect less as Buddhas terrace, which overlooks the San Diego skyline across Trinidad way, all the way to church ward street in the Southeast San Diego neighborhood, how the stairs came to be, and their purpose are a bit of a mystery to local residents. They've been a part of Barry Pollard's life since he was a kid.

Speaker 10: (32:56)

I personally remember using these stairs, walking from my home to Morris high school. And that was back in the seventies.

Speaker 1: (33:04)

Over the years, the stairs fell into disrepair with overgrown vegetation and areas that tend to flood after heavy rainfall

Speaker 10: (33:11)

Around the nineties, eighties, you know, the cutting in some of the service because of the budget for the city and maybe drain stuff needs to occur. So there are some structural issues that we're we're working through.

Speaker 1: (33:26)

That is until last year when Valencia park residents with help from council member, Monica, Montgomery steps office started to clean up the stairs now thanks in part to a $15,000 donation from blue shield, the stairs are getting a over the effort is spearheaded by polars organization. The urban collaboration project lights are going to be put in and four local artists are beautifying the secret stairs with a mural of flowers, the goal to make it more inviting and change receptions of the neighborhood.

Speaker 11: (33:56)

I've heard stories of people calling this, uh, the hood or are, uh, the ghetto. And I've, I've lived here in this area all my life. And I never thought of it

Speaker 1: (34:06)

That way. Shannon white is one of the muralists. She believes art makes places more inviting for everyone. And more importantly, it makes people feel good about themselves and their neighborhood. There is

Speaker 11: (34:18)

A sense of pride that comes along with, uh, something like this. There's also a sense of ownership because this is, you know, if you live in this area, then you consider this yours. The

Speaker 1: (34:30)

Artist decided to cover the stairs with different color poppies because while no one is a hundred percent sure why these stairs were built, the native California flowers are an homage to a local story that says the developer created them. So his wife could go collect wild flowers.

Speaker 12: (34:45)

I wasn't aware of like that story to begin with. And so when I learned about that, it kind of made it like a little bit more special.

Speaker 1: (34:52)

Isabel Garcia is another muralist working on the project. We wanted to

Speaker 12: (34:55)

Include something that actually is important to like the area itself,

Speaker 1: (35:00)

The Valencia park neighborhood, like so much of San Diego is gentrifying at a rapid pace home prices here rose nearly 25% last year and are expected to continue rising. According to Zillow, that's not lost on Garcia who has witnessed many of the changes firsthand as a local artist. She says, she's very intentional about how her work intersects with, at these forces

Speaker 12: (35:23)

For me to be involved in this and using like my art in that way. Like it's for the people that live here. And I want them to be able to feel, you know, included and know that like, this is

Speaker 1: (35:33)

For them. So far, the response from neighbors has been overwhelmingly positive, says Charis. Yes. And Y another one of the artists, it brightens

Speaker 13: (35:41)

People's faces up. So what I've seen from here is like even seeing the people passing by seeing that any color is gonna be brought into that area really does brighten people's faces to know that some type of change is coming.

Speaker 1: (35:52)

Abner SU Rodriguez who lives right next door to the steps, says he's already see the positive change.

Speaker 14: (35:58)

I think it's very much more inviting. Yeah. It's nice to see people walk

Speaker 1: (36:02)

Up and down. And that's exactly what the secret stares makeover was intended to do. Invite people in the community to use this public space exercise and take pride in Valencia park. Kim K PS news.

Speaker 1: (36:29)

This is KPBS midday edition. I'm Cina Kim with Jade Hyman. We revisit an interview about a book that was inspired by the Buddhist concepts of Nirvana and attachment and explores the power of memory and desire. LA Mesa author, Serena Delan grew up in Thailand, surrounded by the myths and ghost stories that carried the cultural traditions of the past. But her debut novel is set in a utopian future in it. Human memories are erased every four years as a way of living in peace without war, but eventually some memories find their way in and the book asks the question. Can you love someone? If you don't remember, Serena Deon's book is called reset. She spoke to midday edition co-host Marine Kavanaugh in may. Here's that interview.

Speaker 15: (37:16)

Now your novel is set after series of catastrophic wars and in an effort to stop that annihilation memories are reset. Why did you focus on memory being the nexus of human problems?

Speaker 16: (37:31)

Well, um, because I grew up in Thailand was surrounded by the culture and the teachings of Buddhism, even though I'm not. And Buddhism teaches that the path at to Nirvana is detachment. And I thought, well, if memories are deceits of all types of attachment, erasing memories would be a natural shortcut to piece. That's how I cut the idea.

Speaker 15: (37:56)

Now, there was an incident, as you struggled with what to write that sparked the idea for this book. Can you tell us about that?

Speaker 16: (38:06)

Yes, actually, um, RH reset is the first book I've ever finished. And previous to that, um, I've just been writing, you know, over and over again, trying to get to a story. And, and I was writing for months. I, this one story and, um, one night at about 3:00 AM in the morning, I decided that I hated the story and you erased everything. And, but in that moment, as I was staring at the blank screen, um, a question came to me. What if we, as human can erase our memories just as we do any computer program and what kind of world would we have and why would it be necessary? And those questions kind of propelled me forward. And one question that you had mentioned, can you love someone you don't remember pretty much haunted me the entire time I was writing in

Speaker 15: (39:03)

Creating this world, uh, to most people. It, it, it might sound pretty good. Your concept of the four cities where the people of the earth live sounds beautiful, you know, on the surface at least tell us what life is like. There

Speaker 16: (39:21)

It is a utopia in every sense of the word. Um, I wanted to go into a place where if the last war were to happen to us, what would be the one thing that we would find most valuable and that peace and in this world where peace is the most important thing, it would be something that we'd want to protect. It would be something that society would want to protect. And so the utopia has this, uh, life where everyone's taken care of because the idea is to protect the whole of humanity. So all resources are shared. Um, there's no money because, um, extreme capitalism really has no place in this world because memories are, if memories are erased every four years, there's no point in accumulating wealth and no point in building empire dynasties. Um, also, you know, everyone's assigned a place to live, so there's no homelessness and because there's no homelessness, there's no hunger.

Speaker 16: (40:26)

Um, everyone is assign a job pretty much, you know, life is this easy, uh, way of living. And I wanted to kind of create a world where we all or the readers can feel conflicted about liking because, you know, eventually in the book, um, the readers will get to know two characters who, whose memories were raised and are trying to find each other. And so, you know, this utopia be became their dystopia and you know, some, every utopia someone's U dystopia, because whenever you place upon another, your belief and they don't have a choice in it, um, someone is going to be unhappy.

Speaker 15: (41:15)

As you mentioned, in, in the force cities, in this utopia, every four years, everyone's memories are erased, but that erasure does not always work perfectly in your book. Can you read us a short passage where one of your characters is starting to recognize something in his dreams?

Speaker 16: (41:36)

I think there's something I'm supposed to find out about the past than just says, like, I don't know, but I keep getting these dreams, dreams. Aren't real. Benja, there's just your mind firing synopsis, making connections, cleaning out junk they'll feel real. To me. He says Aris thinks of her own nonsensical dreams and how they too feel real to her that they are just dreams. They're not links to the past, no premonitions of the future. And even if one could visit the past, why do it to her tabla RAI as a gift, the planner had bestowed on humanity every four years minds are erased of all the reasons to hate. So everyone can coexist in harmony. Every time she gives the children a tour at the museum, she is reminded of how fragile pieces scattered human skeletons, scorched sky collapsed buildings. She would gladly take this version of reality over the alternative

Speaker 15: (42:41)

That was Seren do reading from her new book called reset. And thank you for that.

Speaker 16: (42:46)

Thank you so much. Now,

Speaker 15: (42:48)

Serena Asian Americans are experiencing an outburst of, I guess you could call it generational hate fueled by decades of anti-Asian sentiment, the humans in reset, move beyond that kind of hatred, because they don't remember it. Is that the only way out of this trauma,

Speaker 16: (43:08)

I believe that, um, you know, in reset that differences also to taken out of their hands because everyone's, uh, everyone's created using randomly mixed DNAs of all their survivors. So in a way everyone's mixed and because of that race doesn't exist. And we know that race is this kind of human concept and construct. Um, that is in a way, you know, have been used over and over again to divide us. But, you know, if we really take a look around and, um, and reach out to people on the other side and get to know them as human being, I feel that we are so much more similar than we are different. And the way out of this really is just through that. It's, it's rewriting what we were taught. It's in a way, erasing our old memories, the things that taught us to fear and hate each other. And we can do that ourselves. We don't need a world to erase our memories. And so we can preserve all the love that we have for another and learn to embrace people who are different from us.

Speaker 1: (44:28)

That was LA Mesa author, Serena Delan, speaking to host Maureen Kavanaugh about her book reset.

The country continues to battle the surge of omicron cases as the Biden Administration is taking steps to increase the availability of test kits and N95 masks. Plus, mental fatigue is on the rise and is less avoidable as the pandemic enters its third year with the omicron variant. Next, we remember Tijuana photojournalist Margarito Martinez Esquivel who was killed Monday. Later, Microenterprise Home Kitchen Operations or MEHKOs could soon become legal in San Diego County. After, KPBS Race and Equity reporter Cristina Kim reports on the community revitalization of the secret stairs near Valencia Park. Finally, KPBS revisits an interview about a book that explores the power of memory and desire.