Play Live Radio
Next Up:
Available On Air Stations
Watch Live

Expert weighs in on mask usage following federal ruling

 April 27, 2022 at 4:33 PM PDT

S1: Signs are the COVID pandemic phase is over , but we're not out of the woods.
S2: The aid , too , is here. There is some uptick.
S1: This is KPBS Midday Edition. You see , campuses will offer free tuition to Native American students. Well , I think it's a step in the right direction. There are so many more students that need the opportunity for advancement that this current announcement leaves out. San Diego prepares for a moratorium to no fault evictions. And the San Diego Student Shakespeare Festival returns with in-person performances. That's ahead on Mid-day Edition. The U.S. is out of the pandemic phase of COVID 19 , according to Dr. Anthony Fauci. The president's health advisor says since we are no longer seeing hundreds of thousands of new cases and tens of thousands in the hospital , we've entered a low level of COVID cases across the country. But he warned , we're not out of the woods yet. The VA two variant is causing upticks in cases , apparently causing a moderate increase in new cases here in San Diego this past week. Pediatric COVID 19 infections are seeing their first increases since January. And while we may be out of the pandemic phase , that does not seem to be the case in China with major outbreaks in Shanghai and Beijing. Joining me with a COVID update is our frequent guest , Dr. Eric Topol , director of the Scripps Research Translational Institute in La Hoya. And Dr. Topol , welcome back.
S2: Thanks , Maureen. Great to be with you.
S1: So first things first.
S2: Me , too , is here. There is some uptick. It's hard to get our arms around it because we don't have good data for cases. We can see it in the wastewater surveillance , which is , you know , very helpful here in San Diego. The real issue is how high will it go ? How bad will it get here ? So far as you stated , it's really only a modest increase from best we can tell. But it has the potential , as we're seeing in Puerto Rico and in some places in the Northeast , to be somewhat substantial. Nothing like the crime wave that we suffered in the early part of this year , but certainly a wave. And it isn't just Bay two. There's another sub variant of this called Bay 2.12.1. Just to make it even more complicated. And this one is even more contagious than Bay two. So if we get a BI for Bay two , what's going on in the country right now is we're already at 30% for bay 2.12.1. It's already dominant in the northeast and it eventually will be dominant here in San Diego.
S1: We're now a week out from a federal ruling that ended mandatory mask usage on public travel.
S2: They have to be high quality , though , can 95 or 95 , because otherwise with these anti-crime variants , they're just so hyper contagious. I think it'd be best to stay with masks until we get through this wave , and that's probably at least a few weeks out. So I think it was premature to have this abandonment of use of masks. It's still an option , but obviously most people are not particularly interested in in using it.
S2: Who wants to have an infection ? You don't know whether it's going to be a protracted story of long COVID. You don't know for sure that you're going to weather. Well , of course , because of the vaccinations and prior infections. Most people do well , but there are some , of course , who don't , and that's not predictable. So the best thing is to avoid any COVID infection , if possible.
S1: I want to ask you about prior infections , because the CDC is just reporting that nearly 60% of Americans have some antibodies against infection because they've already had COVID.
S2: That report today is 60%. I expected worst because we have good estimates for the American wave. The ten weeks , even before recent weeks , that 50% of Americans were infected just by American. And then , of course , the 75% of children. So , no , a very substantial majority of Americans have had an infection at some point or other most of it , of course , occurring since January or December , because that's when America really set in and we're still experiencing. And now , of course , there's a lot of differences in mutations from one of these American variants to the next. So there's no guarantee that just because you had an American infection that that natural or infection acquired immunity will cover other crimes. Mostly , yes , but not 100% by any means.
S1: Now , as I mentioned earlier , weekly pediatric COVID cases are beginning to see an increase.
S2: So young children , because they have such small upper airways , are particularly prone to the problem. And that's where it's accounting for the we saw the American wave in young children for hospitalizations.
S1: Now Pfizer is recommending. Booster for kids.
S2: So anybody who's had two shots basically needs to get the third shot , whatever age. So that's kind of what we're stuck with , who nobody would like to have to go get a booster if we could avoid it , especially if you had , you know , the side effects that are common of not feeling well after it for a day or two. But across the board , we know that after unfortunately with this virus , especially as it's evolved so substantially , it's not the problem with the vaccines , it's the problem with the virus. And so in order to keep up and stay ahead of the virus , that third shot is essential. And in fact , for people over age 50 , a four shot is really helpful to protect against hospitalizations and deaths.
S2: But the FDA is waiting to get the final data from Pfizer to consider them both together. This is for age six months to age five. I don't see really why they have to be considered together. And Pfizer's program is three shots. And who really wants to give young children three shots ? I mean , two is truth enough , so I hope we'll get this resolved soon. But it looks like it's at least going to be a few weeks away before we get some decisions about the young children's vaccines.
S1: And finally , Doctor , let's switch gears and talk about what's going on in China.
S2: In addition to all these problems in China , they haven't done very well in vaccinating or getting boosters to people over age 60 who are at the highest risk. So things are not looking good in China. Obviously , with the massive population that's going to be exposed , they can't keep lockdowns like this up long term. So eventually there's going to be a very large number of infections with suboptimal vaccinations , boosters , especially in high risk. So it's a recipe for trouble. It's in the early stages right now , but it doesn't the outlook isn't good.
S1: Is there any potential impact to us from these increased cases in China ? Absolutely.
S2: Just like we saw in parts of the world , like in India , in Africa , when the virus was rampant and spread , new variants form. So it wouldn't be at all surprising that there would be another major variant that could emerge from China in the months ahead.
S1: I've been speaking with Dr. Eric Topol. He is the director of the Scripps Research Translational Institute in La Jolla. And as always , Dr. Topol , thank you so much.
S2: Oh , thank you , Maureen.
S1: California residents who are members of federally recognized Native American tribes will soon be eligible for tuition free college education , according to U.S. President Michael Drake. All nine University of California campuses will offer free tuition to Native Americans , a demographic that now makes up less than 1% of U.S. student body. The U.S. president says the system is committed to , quote , acknowledging historical wrongs endured by Native Americans. Joining me is professor of American Indian Studies , Joely Proudfoot , director of the California Indian Culture and Sovereignty Center at Cal State , San Marcos. And Professor Proudfoot. Joely , welcome to the program. Thank you for having me. And I want to welcome to QML Turner , vice chair of the Rincon Band of Losing You Indians to Ishmael. Welcome. Thank you for having me. Jolene , I'll start with you. Is this announcement about free tuition for Native Americans on U.S. campuses something that's been in the works or does it come as a surprise ? Well , I understand that this is something that has been in the works. I think Dr. Drake , the new president of the UC Regents or chancellor of the regents , has been wanting to do something to address the concerns by the Native Advisory Council to better support our American Indian student population. My understanding , however , that this approach was to be really directed at supporting our California American Indian students , since the UC system resides on California Indian lands. And , you know , while I think it's a step in the right direction and really I'm happy to hear this announcement , there are so many more students that need the opportunity for advancement that this current announcement leaves out. Now , Tish Marshall , education of tribal youth has been a major focus of yours. How does this news impact your work getting more tribal youth enrolled in higher education ? Well , we're really excited. This year in May , the Southern California Tribal Chairman's Association is hosting their graduation honoring ceremony. And there are 231 students from those tribes that are graduating this year. So we're really excited to celebrate that and hope they continue into higher education. Now , Jolene , tuition costs about $13,000 a year on U.S. campuses. Has that been prohibitive for many Native American students ? And that's one of the factors. Tuition costs , as we know , keeps going up and up and up. But in California , there's housing costs , their dorm costs , their costs for books costs to live in a particular area. So those are other issues that are associated with the high cost of earning a degree here in the state. And while tuition is wonderful , it's just one part of the factors. Recruiting students is one factor. Retaining them is the most important. You can recruit students to your campus , but if you don't have the resources and buy resources , most importantly is the human capital to support those students with wraparound services , with culturally sensitivity , making sure that those students feel that they're supported on that campus heard that the curriculum also speaks to their concerns , that they have the counseling services that they need without those services. We know that retention can be very challenging and difficult for native students. So that's something that , you know , we want to consider. It's beyond simply tuition. Tuition is a step in the right direction. But we also have to make sure that tuition covers all students , all American Indian students who deserve and who need the support. Now , this free tuition surely covers members of Native American , American , Indian and Alaska Native tribes who reside in California. But are some people who identify as Native American left out of this program ? Fortunately , there are many who are left out of this type of program because it specifically names must be tribal members of federally recognized tribes. There are many California Indians , for example , whose campuses who reside on their lands who do not qualify because they are either descendants or just enrolled members or members who can not achieve enrollment into their tribe for political reasons or other reasons. So I would encourage that the U.S. broaden their definition to be more inclusive of the very people who would benefit from this program. And I understand this morning that great Rancheria announced that they will be providing $2.5 million to help support non federally recognized tribal students , which I think is wonderful and to. Well , what kind of outreach do you think you CS could be doing to bring in more Native American students ? I think that going out to communities , not necessarily just having the students come to campuses , but actually going into communities and building relationships. And that's what , you know , Cal State San Marcos has done. Our students actually go out to reservations and meet tribal leaders and really build relationships. And I think that that is what is really important. Josh Well , do you think this might open up other colleges and universities to consider offering also free tuition or some sort of tuition break to Native Americans ? Absolutely. And I hope that the CSU's since there are 23 campuses spread out throughout the state , all the way from the Oregon border to the Mexico border would also allow students more access to higher education. Well , I want to thank you both. I have been speaking with professor of American Indian Studies , Joely Proudfoot and Tish Marshall Turner , vice chair of the Rincon Band of Loosened U. Indians. Thank you very much. Thank you. Thank you. This is KPBS Midday Edition. I'm Maureen CAVANAUGH with Jade Heineman. Comments from a federal judge have put plans to end Title 42 , a controversial Trump era asylum policy in limbo. But regardless of how the judge ultimately rules , KPBS border reporter Gustavo Solis says there are still many questions about what the end of Title 42 would mean for asylum seekers.
S3: Julian Wisner has spent the last two years visiting border cities , documenting the struggles of migrants who are turned away from the U.S. via Title 42. This is the order the Trump administration put in place at the beginning of the pandemic. It gives Customs and Border Patrol agents the power to turn away asylum seekers without a hearing. NewsHour's an attorney with Human Rights First. She recently visited Tijuana and talked to some migrants about the Biden administration's plan to end the program on May 23rd. Their reaction wasn't particularly positive.
S1: So when I was when I was visiting shelters in Tijuana , the administration had just announced its intention to end the program. And I think more than anything , people had questions and doubt.
S3: The Biden administration waited nearly a month before releasing a detailed plan of how they plan to handle the end of Title 42. That plan was released Tuesday , and it calls for increasing staff along the southern border , expanding migrant processing capacity , supporting local nonprofits and deporting unauthorized migrants who are not requesting asylum. This lack of clear messaging has repeatedly frustrated Tijuana officials during the entire Biden administration. Enrique Lucero is the director of the city's Migrant Affairs Department. He says when Trump was in office , at least everybody knew what to expect.
S4: Voluminous Trump's I.V.s. Like who else ? No , this is not a kilogram of migrant. This , you know , you got this a wall in the sense of an intent to get regular meat , better organized and honest as a society.
S3: Lucero says. Trump wasn't shy about his anti-immigrant views and largely followed up his messaging with actions. But that hasn't been the case with Biden over and over in the 2020 campaign trail. Biden promised to end Trump's harsh anti-immigration policies and restore the asylum process. So when Biden won the election , thousands of migrants came to Tijuana and waited for Trump's policies to go away. But nothing happened. Biden didn't get rid of Title 42 , so all those people just stayed in Tijuana.
S4: In those men psyches. Joe Biden that supposed to institutionalize Como La La Liga La simply Viva la Presidencia. We look at protocol in compartmental para no es esperanza. It you are. Regardless , process was a similar pattern as well as political something militant is the Trump.
S3: Lucero says the mixed messaging put Tijuana in a bad spot now with less than a month to go before the planned end date. Another twist , a federal judge in Louisiana this week indicated his intention to block the termination of Title 42 , according to the case's briefing schedule. The judge could make his final ruling the week before May 23rd. Aaron Raichlen Melnick , a senior policy counsel for the American Immigration Council , he says we probably won't know anything until right before the termination date.
S5: Realistically speaking , we will probably get a decision. Just before May 23rd. It could be a few days. It could be a week. The schedule is such that we're going to not find out about this until really the last minute.
S3: Until then , asylum seekers in Tijuana will continue to live in their precarious state of limbo. Gustavo Solis , KPBS News.
S6: Now we're going to bring you a couple of stories about the cost of living. San Diego is seeing a wave of no fault evictions , which means some people are being evicted for no particular reason and with little notice. A new moratorium could make these evictions more difficult. Joining me to talk about this is I news source , investigative reporter Cody Dulaney. Cody , welcome.
S5: Hey , thanks for having me.
S5: So that means a tenant could be paying rent on time , following all the obligations of their lease and still be displaced from their home.
S6: And can anyone be evicted at any time ? No.
S5: This can't just happen at any time. So the law only allows a property owner to do this for specific reasons. And some of those are to allow the owner or their family member to move in , to substantially remodel the property or to pull it off the rental market altogether. And that substantial remodel has to be tied to health and safety concerns. It can't just be because they want to update the kitchen or something.
S5: And that notice has to follow a number of requirements in order to comply with the law and quite frankly , be seen by a court as valid. And one of those requirements is that the owner has to provide a specific number of days notice and depending on the terms of the lease and the type of eviction , that could be anywhere from 30 to 90 days. But once that notice expires , that's when a property owner can go through the process of filing an eviction in court.
S6: So do tenants have any rights as renters ? I mean , what if there was a lease in place with their landlord ? Yes.
S5: Tenants do have rights. And I've actually been told by lawyers and people in real estate that once a tenant establishes residency or is even given keys and told that they are allowed to stay , it can be very difficult to remove them from that property. But a no fault eviction with the proper notice and under the right circumstances allows a property owner to unilaterally terminate a lease contract. I am hearing that many of these no fault cases involve tenants who have month to month agreements with their landlord. But a lawyer I spoke with said it's also happening right in the middle of annual leases.
S5: And the city of Chula Vista is taking similar steps next month as well. There are a number of changes. But just to give an example , if a landlord wants to evict somebody to pull a property off the market , they would need to provide six months notice and vacate all units on the property , and that's to prevent an owner from targeting a particular tenant. Now , this moratorium doesn't take effect until May 19th , but I think it's important to note that no one really knows how this will affect tenants who have already been served with an eviction notice. It's not clear whether this moratorium applies retroactively or before it took effect. So a judge will ultimately have to decide how to handle those cases.
S5: It was very restrictive on the reasons why a landlord could evict the tenant. And around August , September of last year , the state started rolling back some of their COVID related eviction protections , and the state started pivoting toward rental assistance. They made it so that as long as a tenant had applied for relief , they couldn't be evicted for nonpayment of rent , but they could be evicted for other reasons. And in my reporting , I found that much of this increase in evictions that we're seeing is being driven by no fault evictions and that some landlords have been using this as a tool. Now , why are they doing that ? To be clear , none of the property owners I've talked to have said , Hey , I'm using this to get rid of someone , right ? Because there are specific rules of how these should be used. So , I mean , I can't draw any conclusions , certainly can't make any accusations , but I also can't help but wonder about the timing.
S5: Hearing from tenants and housing advocates. And for a long time there were no enforcement mechanisms in place that would prevent a property owner from evicting someone and saying they need to remodel or saying they don't want to be a landlord anymore , only to turn around and rent it to someone else at a higher rate. So I think that's what the city's moratorium is trying to address , is trying to close those loopholes , prevent those abuses from happening , while still giving property owners the ability to do what they want with their property.
S5: I mean , on one hand , tenants say this can't come soon enough. On the other , property owners say this is just a political move. I spoke with the president of the Southern California Rental Housing Association and she said property owners have just been blindsided with yet another layer of restrictions that will carry unintended consequences for many property owners. She says this is just tying their hands with what they can and can't do with property that they own. And many others , on the other hand , would argue that , hey , we're still in the middle of a pandemic and we need to keep people in their homes. But either way you slice it , the moratorium is scheduled to end September 30th.
S6: I've been speaking with a news source , investigative reporter Cody Dulaney. Cody , thank you so much for joining us. Thanks.
S5: Thanks. Glad to be here.
S6: Staying with the cost of living. More than a quarter of Jionni customers are behind on their utility bills. The San Diego Union-Tribune reports the unpaid bills may be a consequence of inflation and the lingering financial effects of the COVID 19 pandemic. Statewide data from the Public Utilities Commission reflects a similar trend in overdue utility bills. Joining me now to talk about this is Rob Nicholas Ski , who reported this story for the San Diego Union Tribune. Rob , welcome back.
S5: Good morning , Jane.
S6: Well , let's look at these numbers. More than a quarter of residential Jenny customers are behind on paying their bills. Put this into context.
S5: But as I said , it's anyone who is a residential customer who is more than 30 days past due , is considered to be in a rear edge. And right now , the most recent data we have is at 26.7% of customers are in that category , but they're not alone. There's the other investor owned utilities like Pacific Gas and Electric , Southern California Gas Company and Southern California Edison. They've all seen big numbers. In fact , Pacific Gas and Electric , which is the biggest investor owned utility in the state , has 1.25 million customers who are more than 30 days past due. Okay.
S6: Okay.
S5: It's a combination of reasons. The first reason was because when the pandemic first started , people had to work from home rather than driving drive work , which is good. But since they weren't at home , they ended up using more , more energy and having higher utility bills. And so their bills went up. Another reason , too , is that a number of people were they had to work from home or they had to take care of a child from home. They couldn't go into work. Unemployment went up , so they fell behind on their on their utility bills. Now , for the most part , the the worst of the pandemic appears to be over. But just as the pandemic restrictions seem to be lifting things , people were and the economy was getting somewhat back to normal. Now , we've had this recent surge in the last six months or so of inflation. In fact , we had the highest rate of inflation , highest rate in 41 years , reported just a couple of weeks ago. So it's kind of that one two punch.
S5: But they put in a moratorium saying that if you're behind on your bills , we're not going to shut off your power. The CPC then extended that moratorium up until September of last year. So through September of 2021 , you would not get your power shut off. But that ended in September of 2021. So technically you can get your power shut off if you are behind on your bills. But in tandem with that , the the Public Utilities Commission put together and directed all of the investor owned utilities to automatically enroll residential customers who are more than 60 days behind on their bills into what something that's called a COVID 19 residential relief payment plan , and that would appear to rise their debt over a 24 month period. So that gives them a little bit of help.
S6: But we know that as many customers pay the highest per unit electric prices in the country and rates this year increased by 11% or more.
S5: It's called care. It's very well known program. There's also something called Family Electric Rates Assistance Program , also called Fairer Care , is available to customers whose total household income is at or below specific income levels. And the example is if you're a family of four and if your income level is at $53,000 a year or lower , you're eligible for care and fera the you're eligible for it if you have make a little bit more than that. So they're trying not just see Jeanie but all the investor owned utilities are trying to funnel more of those people into these discounted rate programs so they get some great relief. Because when the Utilities Commission took a look at this last year , they noticed that a large percentage of people who were eligible for discounted rate programs had not signed up for them. So they're trying to get more and more people to sign up for those just kind of great programs to get some relief.
S5: And I asked their executive director what his forecast was , and he says it's not looking really good because there's no indication that inflation is going to go away. And also , one of the things that he pointed out , pointed out that I thought was interesting was that. Lower income people pay a higher percentage of their overall budget to electric electric bills because that's something that's that that's a fixed amount. I mean , it's just it's kind of like going to the gas station. Whether you're rich or poor , if the gas station is charging for 85 gallons of gas , you're paying that same amount. And what they have found for this organization has found is that if you're in a lower income bracket , you end up paying a lot more. In fact , they had an analysis that showed that that the bottom 20% of income earners paid about $1,000 more nationally in energy bills in 2021 than they get the year before. Hmm.
S1: Hmm.
S6: I've been speaking with Rob McCleskey , energy reporter for the San Diego Union-Tribune. Rob , thank you so much for joining us.
S5: Thank you , Jake.
S1: What little is known about long COVID in children and teenagers suggests that it can be just as disabling as it is for adults. Jackie Fortier , a senior health reporter at KPCC , spoke to one family who connected the dots before the doctors on a monday morning last August , 15 year old Lucas Garcia was getting ready to leave his family's apartment for the second week of his sophomore year.
S5: Everything seemed normal , but shortly after we were about to walk out the door. I started feeling sick and I started running to the restroom.
S1: Lucas and his parents thought it may have been food poisoning. But a test at a local urgent care confirmed it was COVID. Here's Lucas's dad , Robert Garcia.
S5: The doctor starts to go into will keep him at home for two weeks. When he was telling me this , I could not believe what I was hearing.
S1: He was shocked because the entire Garcia family had already had COVID once in December of 2020. Now that they were all fully vaccinated , Robert couldn't believe that Lucas contracted COVID again.
S5: That's what was hard when he would ask. You know , when I get better and the doctors and mom and I were like , We don't know.
S1: Lucas suffered at home from severe head and body aches. He became so sensitive to sound that he asked his parents to whisper. The TV was too bright to watch. Walking to the bathroom left him exhausted. As the weeks dragged on , his father recognized the symptoms.
S5: Meanwhile , I had long COVID. For me , it felt like months. Long.
S1: Long. COVID is a term devised by patients to describe the lingering symptoms they experienced well after the initial infection. Symptoms vary widely , but include fatigue , cognitive problems , anxiety , depression and insomnia , as well as heart , lung and gastrointestinal symptoms. Lucas had almost all of these symptoms for months.
S5: There is no visible sign of me getting better until I got to Children's Hospital. And then.
S1: They said , You know , we specialize in this.
S5: Sort of thing , so there a chance we can help you. And just a small chance was a miracle to me at that time.
S1: Lucas was extremely worried how long his symptoms would last. Would they ever go away and would he be sick forever ? Dr. Cindy Muhandis is a pediatric infectious disease specialist at Children's Hospital , Los Angeles. She treats children who have long COVID. So having seen other patients in the clinic , we are , first of all able to offer some perspective about how the other children have been doing and provide hope that even though the symptoms seem to be all consuming at present , there is hope that with time they will. Resolve.
S5: Resolve.
S1: Coronavirus infections very widely. Some people have relatively mild symptoms , more like a cold , particularly if they have been vaccinated. For others , the infection is potentially life threatening. About 1 million people have died from COVID in the U.S. alone. But anyone , no matter the severity of their initial illness , even those who are young and healthy can develop long COVID. Dr. Muhandis says her youngest long COVID patient is just nine months old. There is no direct pharmacological treatment for Long-Covid , so the other important thing that we do in our clinic is suggest lifestyle modification , especially given.
S5: This severe.
S1: Degree of fatigue. MUHANDIS estimates between 10 to 20% of children infected with the coronavirus will develop long COVID in L.A. County. That could mean thousands of kids. I think you have to understand these are long symptoms. It's months and sometimes more than a year to resolve symptoms. Lucas ended up missing three months of school , finally returning in November. Though , he says the brain fog continued. It was extremely.
S5: Hard at first to.
S1: Even just read simply.
S5: But every week it just got better and better. But now it's significantly improved.
S1: It took six months before Lucas felt like his normal self. Now he's part of a nationwide study to better understand the condition in children. Dr. Muhandis says the best way to avoid long COVID is to get children vaccinated. So the decrease , the chances of getting long COVID. If there was a breakthrough infection and someone did go on to have long COVID after a vaccine , the number of symptoms they have is nearly halved in the coming months. Dr. Muhandis expects to see more children in her clinic with undiagnosed Long-Covid , as well as families hoping for answers for the California report. I'm Jackie Forte in Los Angeles.
S6: You're listening to KPBS Midday Edition. I'm Jade Hindman with Maureen CAVANAUGH. The Student Shakespeare Festival makes a return to in-person performances and Heritage Park this Saturday , San Diego Shakespeare Society's Nathan Eagan and right out Louds artistic director Veronica murphy sat down with KPBS arts reporter Beth ACCOMANDO for a preview.
S1: Nathan , it is very exciting that the San Diego Student Shakespeare Festival is returning. So what can people expect from this ? Yes.
S7: So we have relocated the festival to Heritage Park in Old Town , so we're excited about exploring a different space in San Diego. But we will like usually have a stage for students to perform and people can come and watch and see different scenes and monologues from students of a variety of ages. And , you know , we're just excited to finally get back to something in-person with all the students.
S1: And Veronica , right out loud , is going to be one of the producing partners for this. So what will you be contributing to this event ? Well , we will bring our giant will Shakespeare puppet. And we have been organizing all of the scheduling of the students. We've been providing workshops for the students to help them better understand the language and how to present it. That's been going on over the last several months. And we're organizing the set up of signage and those kinds of things. And how is it mounting this festival after the pandemic and kind of trying to get back up to speed to what had been this really large , wonderful event that had been going on for years when the Shakespeare Society and right out loud decided to come together to produce this festival. That was in 2019. And we were all geared up for a live event in April of 2020 , such as it had been in the past. And because that wasn't possible , we moved the event to a virtual event. And so we produced a virtual festival. So now we really are back live. And it's been interesting. I think teachers have been pretty overwhelmed over the last couple of years. So getting the same kind of numbers that we have had in the past when the program was live has been somewhat challenging , but we definitely have schools involved. The festival in the past has had multiple stages. This year we have one stage and it will be performed on for several hours in the middle of the day so that people can still come and hear sonnets and watch scenes from 12th Night and Romeo and Juliet and Macbeth and Julius Caesar. And we're very excited. We have a five schools performing or are participating. We have about 30 kids. Some of them are doing multiple scenes and some will do a monologue and a scene with other kids and that sort of thing. So it's still going to be a celebration of Shakespeare. And of course , one of the most important things is getting kids introduced and excited about Shakespeare. So that is all happening. And as Nathan mentioned , we're very excited to be in a new venue. And Nathan , talk about the San Diego Shakespeare Society and why the organization feels it is so important to put on this festival and involve students in schools.
S7: Well , you know , really started with the vision of the founder , Alex Sandy , and I believe it was in Denver. He had seen this , you know , giant festival and had this vision for seeing how could we do something like that in San Diego. And as Veronica mentioned , you know , it is so important to get students involved at a young age and just see that why the clichés are so true of that. These stories are so timeless and they feel like they could be written yesterday or similar to the movies and TV shows. We're seeing the same kind of storylines and and just that insight into how people operate and how why people do things the way they do it. And it's just such a brilliant study and focus on the human condition and what makes us also human , you know ? So it's exciting to investigate the work for that reason. You know , the kids and the students always have such a great time working on these scenes and performing them , and that's really what it's all about. I mean , you know , you can read these scenes in a classroom or maybe work on them at home , but , you know , they were meant to be performed. That's what we're excited to do , is to give people that opportune. Ready to perform it and get it out there and experience the joy and thrill of , you know , giving life to these words in front of an audience.
S1: And I've had the privilege of attending a lot of these student Shakespeare festivals and have thoroughly enjoyed them. But explain to people what they can expect in the sense that there may be two hurdles here. People may be a little intimidated by Shakespeare thinking like , Man , Shakespeare is not for me. And they may also feel like , Oh , do I really want to see kids performing ? But it seems like some of these kids don't seem to be afraid of Shakespeare because they don't know yet that they shouldn't be afraid or they should be afraid. And they come to it with this passion and energy that is so entertaining. Kids just pick it up and read it and don't think about it. As you said , you know , they don't think they should be afraid of it. So they just. And it's interesting to me that when they do that , they understand it. I guess I would say for what the audience can expect. They can expect a lot of enthusiasm. A lot of kids that really do know what they're doing as far as the story and the language goes.
S7: And I just wanted to , you know , kind of put a little point on this word. Intimidating because it is intimidating because it demands so much of you as a performer. But at the same time , I would say , well , isn't that why many of us play instruments or pursue sports or go to watch a concert or go to see a sporting event is where we're going to see people , you know , overcome this hurdle because these things are not easy , whether it's acting or music or athletics. They're not easy. They require skill. And at the same time , especially in this kind of format with the student festival , you know , it's not all about , you know , am I winning or losing ? It's are they having fun ? And so in addition to seeing people overcome these hurdles and challenges that they want to do , you're seeing them have a really great time at the same time. So you really do see how much they are enjoying the experience of doing this. And and we just saw some very young students perform the other day at at our birthday party. And , you know , they had to have been maybe six or seven. And they they had no sense of of being , you know , having stage fright or and they just they just do it and they just have fun and they love to run around and do the lines. And it's a great time.
S7: Thank you so much , Beth. Really appreciate your time and your continued support of the festival. It means a lot. Yeah.
S1: Yeah. Thank you so much , Beth. We always enjoyed speaking with you about whatever we're doing.
S6: That was Beth ACCOMANDO speaking with Nathan Egan and Veronica murphy. The Student Shakespeare Festival is a free event that starts at 11 a.m. in Heritage Park and Old Town.

Ways To Subscribe
The U.S. is out of the pandemic phase of COVID-19, according to Dr. Anthony Fauci. Plus, California residents who are members of federally recognized Native American tribes, will soon be eligible for a tuition-free college education at University of California schools. After, comments from a federal judge have put plans to end Title 42 – a controversial Trump-era asylum policy – in limbo. Meanwhile, San Diego is seeing a wave of no fault evictions. Which means some people are being evicted for no particular reason and with little notice. Then, more than a quarter of SDG&E customers are behind on their utility bills. The San Diego Union-Tribune reports the unpaid bills may be a consequence of inflation, and the lingering financial effects of the COVID-19 pandemic. Later, what little is known about long-COVID in children and teenagers suggests that it can be just as disabling as it is for adults. Finally, this Saturday, the San Diego Shakespeare Society and Write Out Loud present the 17th Annual Student Shakespeare Festival.