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FDA, CDC Panel Backs Pfizer COVID-19 Boosters For Seniors, High-Risk

 September 23, 2021 at 11:45 AM PDT

Speaker 1: 00:00 Thousands of San Diegans have already gotten a COVID booster shot. Speaker 2: 00:04 I would caution people to just have a little bit more patients. We're very, very close to getting a real solid recommendation. Speaker 1: 00:10 I'm Christina Kim in for Jade Heiman with Marine Kavanaugh. This is KPBS midday edition. Uh, federal downtown prison was set to close, but it isn't. The Speaker 3: 00:28 Contract for Western region was supposed to be up next week. So it should be closing next week, but there was an announcement this week that it's received a six month extension. Speaker 1: 00:40 There's a statewide effort to provide more artists with a living wage. And we closed this season's KPBS summer music series with the gospels and spirituals of the Martin Luther king Jr. Community choir. That's ahead on midday edition Speaker 1: 01:01 As health officials, warn of the possibility of a looming fifth wave of COVID this fall. The issue of waning vaccine effectiveness continues to be front of mind for many Americans just yesterday. The FDA approved a third dose of the Pfizer beyond tech vaccine for seniors and high risk groups. While a CDC approval is expected to provide further guidance within the next few days. However, according to reporting in the San Diego union Tribune, thousands of San Diegans have already sought out their booster shots ahead of official guidance. Dr. Christian Ramers is the assistant medical director with family health centers, and he also sits on San Diego county's vaccine clinical advisory group, and he joins us now, Dr. Ramers welcome back to the program. Speaker 2: 01:44 Thank you for having me Speaker 1: 01:45 First, the FDA has approved booster shots for those who are immunocompromised, but the UT is reporting that an estimated 17,000 people who are not immunocompromised may have gotten boosters. What are your thoughts on that? Speaker 2: 01:59 I just want to go through the processes that have been set up, you know, these are, I think really cautious and measured ways that we have had very good drug and vaccine safety through this country through many decades. And usually what happens is if the FDA does an extensive review of the data before they changed recommendations or before they changed the indications or the labeling of any particular product. And then typically that goes right over to the CDCs advisory committee on immunization practices, which gets much more into the details to give clinicians guidance about what, what is their official recommendation. We realized that, uh, people are desperate and there's a huge demand for people to get booster doses. Uh, mostly because of what's been seen in Israel and the concerns of waning immunity. I would caution people to just have a little bit more patients. Speaker 2: 02:45 We're very, very close to getting a real solid recommendation. And there's a couple of reasons why going out on your own and getting an additional dose might be problematic. Um, the first is that we haven't fully studied all the different combinations and we like to stick where the data leads us right now. We only have information on the Pfizer booster dose and the FDA has not yet reviewed any other, uh, combinations such as Madrona or the Johnson and Johnson. So we just need to wait until we have more guidance. And secondly, if something, if an adverse event were to occur such as an NFL lactic reaction or, or a vaccine injury, you know, that patient who went out on their own and may have falsified their information to get that third dose or the vaccine provider is kind of out on a limb in terms of liability protections. Speaker 1: 03:27 So what I'm hearing you say is that people should really wait for official guidance from leading health organizations before deciding to get a third shot on their own. Speaker 2: 03:35 Yes, and I want to be clear, what's already been vetted and approved, and that is a third dose for those who are legitimately, uh, immunocompromised. That means moderate to severe immunosuppression, either from cancer chemotherapy, from a solid organ transplant or something like that, that's already free and clear and people are welcome to do that in their doctor's offices. Uh, the more recent recommendation which you referred to that the CDC is currently deliberating on with, with meetings, right, as we speak has to do with third doses, only for those that received Pfizer vaccine. Now I would urge people to be a little bit more patient if they received Madrona or Johnson and Johnson, because that data is being vetted and being reviewed. And there are still any unanswered questions. For example, there's several studies now showing that Madonna may, may provide, um, more long lasting protection than Pfizer. And so booster dose may be less necessary. Again, we have to take a look at the data before we can go with those recommendations. Speaker 1: 04:28 You've alluded to this already, but can you tell us a little more about what evidence we have about waning immunity among the already vaccinated? Speaker 2: 04:36 Yeah. It's a complicated question because if you just look at one piece of the elephant, so to speak, which is the easiest to measure antibody levels, you can show that antibody levels are going to decline with time. Now that may be shocking to people, but it's actually a normal process in human immunology. Every that virus and bacteria that you've encountered, you're going to develop antibodies and it's natural for those antibodies to wane with time, if that didn't occur, your blood would be like cement. It would be full of all these proteins. Your body has developed mechanisms in order to flex up and flex down the levels of antibodies. As long as you create immunological memory, that's partially why people who have been fully vaccinated may not be completely protected from infection, but they are very well protected from severe disease because they are able to develop that response very quickly. Within three to four days of encountering the pathogen. Again, Speaker 1: 05:25 People are already seeking the booster, but what do you say to patients who were already hesitant to get vaccinated in the first place? And now they're questioning the need for a third shot? Speaker 2: 05:35 Yeah, I think the message needs to be loud and clear that these shots are delivering what they mainly were intended to do. And that is to save lives and to keep people out of the hospital. I think we're debating around the edges about this, whether the series should be two shots or three shots from the get-go and then whether boosters are going to be necessary. But all you have to do is look at the numbers in the county or in the state or in the country to show that unvaccinated people are dying and getting hospitalized at at much, much higher rates than those that are vaccinated. That's really the proof of how good these vaccines are actually working at keeping people from getting seriously ill. And I think we should maybe change our expectation a little bit about what the vaccine can deliver. I think it was a little surprised at the beginning to see these numbers of 95% protection from a vaccine. Speaker 2: 06:18 I mean, we were hoping it would be 50% protective, uh, in the beginning, um, in order to be authorized. So the expectation was this is going to create some crazy invisible force field that is going to protect people from getting infected at all. That's really not realistic. And what we've seen over time is that people can, uh, if they are exposed to COVID, especially with the Delta variant, which is so much more contagious, if they're exposed and they get the virus in their nose or in their mouth, that they still can Mount a very, very good immune response that protects them from getting very ill. Speaker 1: 06:49 As I mentioned, we are, you know, fearing that we're reaching a fifth wave this fall. I know a lot of family spent the holidays apart last year because of the pandemic. Do you anticipate similar guidance about limiting travel and large indoor gatherings this year? Speaker 2: 07:02 I do. I think this is going to be tough because there is such a desire to get back to the way things were, but we need to ask the public to make reasonable decisions about risky, um, contacts, essentially. Um, we do have the protection of a, of a large proportion of the population that's been vaccinated. I think what most people are very concerned about is that as it gets colder, people spend more time inside that we're going to see more transmission. And then the twin demic as it's been called, if we have a bad flu year at the same time, as we have a bad COVID year, that's going to be a major problem. So, so public health authorities are really urging us to get flu shots again this year. Um, last year flu took kind of a break because people were on lockdown and not really interacting with each other too much. We've already seen flu transmission start in San Diego county. So I think we're, we're a little bit worried about having that be on top of COVID-19. Speaker 1: 07:53 I've been speaking with Dr. Christian Ramers assistant medical director with family health centers. Dr. Ramers. Thank you so much for joining us today. Speaker 2: 08:00 Thank you so much for having me Speaker 4: 08:06 California health officials are now requiring that people who work in high-risk medical settings be fully immunized against COVID-19. That includes employees of hospitals, nursing homes and doctor's offices. But as KPC sees Jackie 48 reports, it does not include care workers in private homes. Speaker 5: 08:27 Even though he got vaccinated three months ago, Tim gin doesn't feel safe in his own home. He wants everyone who comes through his front door to be vaccinated, but he doesn't get that choice. Speaker 6: 08:38 The agency sends me a new worker to help me. The first thing I ask is if they are vaccinated and we go from there, but there is always, Speaker 5: 08:48 Jen has cerebral palsy and doesn't have the use of his arms or hands. That voice you're hearing comes from an iPad, which is mounted next to his feet on his electric wheelchair. He communicates mainly by typing out sentences with his toes. Speaker 6: 09:02 I am capable of using my feet as if they were like your hands. Speaker 5: 09:06 Jen is 46 and moved out of his family home. 20 years ago, he lives by himself in an apartment in orange county. He types and opens doors with his feet, but needs help with everyday tasks like eating and getting dressed up to six health aides come in and out of his home every day, Speaker 6: 09:23 Due to my disability, I can't do anything like cooking, eating, using the restroom, or even using the microwave on my own. I am totally dependent on others to assist me Speaker 5: 09:36 Then aid isn't vaccinated. Gin requires them to wear a mask, but he says you can't socially distance from the person brushing your teeth. Speaker 6: 09:44 The staff who come into my home should be vaccinated. It's that simple. It's a matter of life. And death Speaker 5: 09:50 Studies have shown that people with intellectual and developmental disabilities like gin are more vulnerable to the Corona virus. That's why Jen wants to see in-home care workers added to the long list of California health workers who are required to be vaccinated. Speaker 6: 10:06 They don't understand that our lives and wellbeing are far more important than trying to fill in a shift. Speaker 5: 10:13 Uh, vaccine mandate could put a squeeze on employers. Laurie shepherd is the director of operations at an agency that provides in-home health aids to people with developmental disabilities. Shepherd doesn't know how many of her staff are vaccinated and she doesn't require weekly COVID-19 tests. Some workers have told her if there's a mandate, they'll quit. Speaker 7: 10:33 I would definitely lose 20% of our workforce. Speaker 5: 10:37 There are no licensing requirements for either the agencies or their staff though. The state provides funding for those health workers. Shepherd says wages are low making it difficult to recruit new people to the industry. Speaker 7: 10:50 Almost all of our staff worked for similar companies in order to just, you know, pay the rent because we all have to pay such poor wages. Speaker 8: 10:57 What we have here is two marginalized populations. Speaker 5: 10:59 That Scotland is a sociologist at Syracuse university Speaker 8: 11:03 With intellectual and developmental disability who are a vulnerable health population in need of services and direct service providers who many times are minority. Women are underpaid, undervalued, and not always afforded the respect. And we're asking one part of this equation to maybe get a vaccine that they have hesitancy about. Speaker 5: 11:21 Landy says it's a difficult balance, consistent COVID-19 testing rather than a vaccine mandate may help retain workers who are reluctant to get the shot. Speaker 8: 11:31 I just fear that if you put one in place, you could go from staffing crisis to staffing catastrophe. Speaker 5: 11:37 When asked if in-home care workers will be included in the vaccine mandate, the state health department would only say it we'll continue to monitor the situation without a mandate. It's up to individual employers like Debbie Davis, who felt she had no choice, but to require her employees to get vaccinated as a registered nurse, she spent months fielding questions from, Speaker 7: 11:58 I literally spent hours and hours and hours doing the research with the CDC website and sharing it with them. And I think that was helpful because people would feel like they could ask me whatever they wanted to ask me. And it wasn't a dumb question out of her Speaker 5: 12:10 80 employees who provide home caregiving services, just one chose to leave the job rather than get vaccinated. Speaker 7: 12:17 We can kind of be confident in saying that it's a hundred percent compliance, which, Speaker 5: 12:24 Uh, vaccine mandate is possible. She says if people have access to good information, Speaker 4: 12:29 That story was from KPCC Jackie 48. Speaker 4: 12:41 This is KPBS mid day edition. I'm Maureen Cavenaugh with Christina Kim Jane Heinemann is a way today. A privately operated federal detention facility in downtown San Diego has apparently gotten a new lease on life. The Western region detention facility operated by the geo group was one of a class of private prisons targeted for extinction by president Biden. But the facility recently announced it's been given a six month contract extension by the federal marshal service. And after that, the facility may find a new home in a small town in Kern county. Joining me with more on this story of San Diego union Tribune, reporter Christina Davis and Christina. Welcome. Speaker 3: 13:25 Thanks for having me. This Speaker 4: 13:26 Is a privately run for profit prison facility. Where's it located in downtown San Diego? And what purpose does it serve? Speaker 3: 13:35 So, uh, the detention facility took over the old county jail. Downtown people will recognize it as being part of the old county courthouse complex. Um, and most of that was actually it's been torn down over the past year or so, and this was kind of attached to it. And it's just a very plain nondescript, pretty old looking building. And the capacity is 770 beds. And what the facility does is houses mostly pretrial detainees. So these are people who have been charged with federal crimes, but they have not been convicted of those crimes. They are basically being detained while their cases going through the court system Speaker 4: 14:15 And Biden is issued an executive order earlier this year to eliminate the use of private prisons in the federal criminal justice systems. What were his reasons for doing that? Speaker 3: 14:26 His, um, executive orders it's meant to phase out the federal relationship with these private prisons and, um, the reasoning that he gives behind that is really more of like a criminal justice reform aim. Um, he talks about using this as a way to decrease incarceration levels. So the criminal justice system can turn its focus more on to rehabilitation efforts. And he also does note a 2016 report by the department of justice office of the inspector general, which does say that many of these privately operated detention facilities do not maintain the same levels of safety and security as those run by the federal government. So Speaker 4: 15:07 It seems that the Western region detention facility in San Diego should be closing, but it's not, is it Speaker 3: 15:14 Well, and that's, that's a little bit to be seen. So what the executive order does is it says that the department of justice cannot renew any contracts with these private prisons. And, uh, the contract for a Western region was supposed to be up next week, right? So it should be closing next week, but there was an announcement this week that it's received a six month extension. And Speaker 4: 15:42 Did the federal marshal service who gave that extension give any reason for it? Speaker 3: 15:48 No, basically the geo group announced this extension, but did not say what was behind the extensions. The marshals, um, did not respond to me when I asked them for a reason. Um, I'm not sure if it's to try to work out a longer deal or if it's due to COVID, we're just really not sure. Speaker 4: 16:06 Now you've also found out there are potentially longterm plans underway to keep the facility open. Tell us about those. Speaker 3: 16:14 Right. So like I said, the executive order prohibits the DOJ and the U S marshals are under the DOJ from contracting with these private prisons. So what appears to be happening is negotiations are in the works with a local government. Um, and this is the city of McFarland. It's, it's a very small town, um, up in Kern county, it's 250 miles north of San Diego. Basically what would happen is the us marshals would contract with this city of McFarland for the prison to run it. And then the city would turn around and subcontract the services out to geo group to the private prison operators. So it basically is having a local government act as a middleman and it's, you know, appears to be a work around to the executive order. And would Speaker 4: 17:08 The federal detainees from San Diego be housed up there before? Speaker 3: 17:12 No, I mean, it would just be something that's on paper. So basically the facility would remain open and kind of operating as it is. It would just on paper show that the city 250 miles north of us has the contract to run the facility that is then subcontracted to the geo group. Speaker 4: 17:34 And how much could this small town potentially make out of this prison deal? Speaker 3: 17:39 So the deal would, um, get this small town $500,000 as an administrative fee is, is the proposal that's out there right now. So Speaker 4: 17:49 You said this whole deal would be kind of a work around of the president's executive order. Is there any watchdog group that's objecting to this move by geo? Speaker 3: 18:00 Yes, absolutely. Um, the ACL OU the three chapters in California since a letter to the white house this week, basically saying, you know, Hey, we're, we're seeing that this facility is not closing, um, on the date that it should. And there's also seems to be these negotiations and we, they were strongly urging president Biden to basically adhere to the spirit of the executive order and to, you know, not allow the marshals to, um, accept this kind of contract. Speaker 4: 18:32 Are there any other federal detention facilities in San Diego that are privately owned? Speaker 3: 18:37 There is another one. Um, it's, uh, out in old time may sets that were time Mesa detention center, I think is what it's called. And it's run by a different company called core civic and that detention center, um, houses, detainees for ice. So these are, these are people who are just being detained for civil immigration violations, um, like kind of where they're waiting to be deported or whatever. Um, and, but it also does house criminal Marshall's detainees as well. Speaker 4: 19:08 Is that facility also scheduled to close? Speaker 3: 19:11 Well, that facility would fall under the executive order. I have to be honest. I'm a little unclear when that, um, facilities contract is up. I've seen some things, uh, that say it's up at the end of this year, but I think that, that might've also been extended until 2024, right before the executive order went into effect. Um, so it might have another few years of life and, you know, maybe things will change, uh, during that time period as well. Speaker 4: 19:43 Okay. I've been speaking with San Diego union Tribune reporter Christina Davis, Christina, thank you so much. Speaker 3: 19:49 Thank you. Speaker 4: 19:56 This week, the San Diego city council cleared the way for another attempt to revitalize the city's midway district. The 48 acre site was officially declared surplus land and notice will be given to affordable housing and other developers in the next couple of weeks. The city council's action is an effort to correct a major error that derail the previous midway redevelopment deal earlier this year. Now city officials are being careful to ensure that all state laws are being met. So a redevelopment project can finally get off the ground. Joining me a San Diego union Tribune reporter Jennifer van Grove. Jennifer, welcome. Thanks Speaker 3: 20:36 For having me Speaker 4: 20:38 Now, correct me if I'm wrong, but in a nutshell, I think the problem with the old redevelopment deal with Brookfield properties was it didn't specifically commit to including affordable housing. Was that it? Speaker 9: 20:50 Not exactly. So the problem was actually a process problem. So this deal, which wasn't actually technically a deal and we can kind of get into that, but this, um, arrangement with Brookfield, it was broken from the minute that the city put out the RFP. So the city should have never went out to us as a solicit of requests for proposals, because that was in violation of this new state process that they're supposed to follow when they want to sell or lease any government owned land. So it was, it was broken from the beginning. Speaker 4: 21:24 Okay. So they're approaching it in a different way. This time, San Diego city council made the formal designation of surplus land for this 48 acres. What does the designation of surplus land have to do with it? Speaker 9: 21:39 So it has everything to do with it. And so going back to what I just said, the process was broken from the beginning. Originally this time around the city is following a process that has been prescribed by California's housing and community development agency. And so what HCD is, is they came up with some guidelines and these are not guidelines. Mind do. These are actual rules that government agencies must follow when they want to dispose of meaning lease or sell a piece of property. And at the very start of that process, the city has to take an action in either declare the land surplus land or exempt surplus land and declaring it surplus map land. That means the city no longer has use for it. And then that land has to then go through the next process of being offered first to affordable housing developers. Speaker 4: 22:31 Now, if you go back and the Brookfield plan, which you say was basically no good from the very beginning, but it included new sports arena, parks, retail, is the city still looking for that kind of redevelopment for the midway district? Speaker 9: 22:48 Absolutely. The city wants something mixed, use something that's going to bring a lot of vibrancy to the area. I think the major difference now is that the emphasis has to be on affordable housing at a sports arena, right? So those are going to be the two kind of really big factors in how the city, the city makes its decision going forward. So based on the process that they're in now, anybody that responds to what's called the notice of availability, which is supposed to go out soon. Anybody responds to that has to come back with a program that includes a minimum of 25% of housing units that are reserved for lower income families. And then there's some other restrictions on top of that. So let's say you're a developer. You come in and you, you, uh, pitch 25% of a hundred units. That's not going to cut it either because they want the maximum number of affordable units as well. So the focal point is really going to be on this affordable housing component, but the city is also, um, very committed to a new or refurbished sports arena. So that's going to be a big factor as well, but of course they want multi-use, they want parks, they want retail, they want something that's going to bring people in and activate the area and, and kind of, you know, serve as a catalyst for reforming the whole midway district. Speaker 4: 24:12 Do we have any idea what groups may respond to this notice of availability? Speaker 9: 24:17 So Brookfield has told me, so Brookfield properties, the original winner of the bid process from, from the first time around their back, um, they would like to participate in this process. Um, I believe that they're also back with ASM, which is the operator of the sports arena right now. So in that proposal will likely include a new sports arena. Um, and they they've also teamed up with an affordable housing developer. And so I expect to hear more about that plan in the next week or two, um, toll brothers, which also bid on the first time around, but lost out to Brookfield they're back. They have a new team they're going by the name of midway village plus, and then there's another group called con em, they didn't participate the first time around, but they made a presentation to the midway districts, um, community planning group. Um, so they've, they've kind of signaled their interests. And then I suspect there'll be, there'll be other people as well. Um, maybe other arena developers, maybe other housing developers. So, you know, we won't know for a couple of weeks, but those are the three that I know of right now. Speaker 4: 25:25 This process is now just beginning. What's the timeframe on this? When could we see any plan be selected and maybe even be acted upon Speaker 9: 25:36 It's? You know, I, unfortunately I think for some people in the community, it's still a very long timeframe. So what happens now is the city will issue. What's called a notice of availability that will go out to a state vetted list of fordable housing builders. The city will evaluate their proposals and most likely that initial, um, process will kind of kick off it at city council in the spring. So it's, it's really open-ended. I think the only thing that we know, um, spring 2022, um, some of these proposals will likely go in front of city council. Speaker 4: 26:13 I've been speaking with San Diego union Tribune reporter Jennifer van Grove. And thank you, Jennifer. Thanks Speaker 9: 26:20 Marine. Speaker 1: 26:29 The impacts of the Corona virus pandemic have not been spread equally among members of our community. Certain groups have suffered the consequences far more than others. That includes those in the arts and culture sector here, San Diego museum council, executive director, Bob layman, Speaker 10: 26:45 Many of us work independently, uh, and project by project without protections like unemployment and health insurance, uh, that you would get with working for a big corporation. Uh, we have to get rid of the idea of starving artists, people in the arts and culture need to have a living wage to and to provide for themselves and their families. Speaker 1: 27:04 Uh, bill sitting on the governor's desk aims to do just that. I spoke with Chloe Veltman arts and culture reporter at KQBD about the bill here's that interview, the California creative workforce act is the first of its kind. What's the goal of this? Speaker 11: 27:17 Well, Christina, I'm sitting two things, one diversify California's arts and culture workforce, and to provide jobs that pay a living wage to keep creative sector workers in California, where in many places the cost of living is so high. Speaker 1: 27:31 So what specifically would it do if it is in fact signed by the governor? Speaker 11: 27:36 The arts and culture sector is, is one where things get done despite the traditionally low pay and the heavy reliance on volunteerism. So this legislation would earmark grants for creative sector employers to, um, pay arts professionals, an actual living wage in exchange for their services. And on the diversity front, it would offer paid apprenticeships to Californians who might otherwise feel excluded from pursuing arts and culture careers because of, uh, financial or other constraints. Speaker 1: 28:05 So this sounds a lot like efforts taken during the great depression are those programs. What's inspiring this bill. Speaker 11: 28:11 Yeah. There's a couple of programs historically that have inspired this bill and you're absolutely right. Christina. One of the programs that inspired it is the well-known WPA federal art project, which successfully put thousands of artists to work during the great depression, but it's also inspired by a lesser known, but equally important program called the comprehensive employment and training act or seater for short, this program provided full-time employment and training for more than 20,000 artists and arts support staff back in the 1970s. Speaker 1: 28:46 I know your reporting also focused on the bay area. And I know here in San Diego as an urban area, we often have funding systems that kind of help enable the arts to flourish. What about rural areas? How is this program going to, for instance, reach more rural regions in San Diego county? Speaker 11: 29:02 So one of the ways it's going to do it is basically arts organizations, different arts businesses, and it remains to be seen which ones specifically we'll be able to apply for grants. And those grants will be dispersed by the state, um, to different arts councils or other types of funding centers. Should we say? And then people who run businesses will be able to, and nonprofits and such will be able to apply for those grants and then disperse them to either people who they employ or people who they want to train. So you don't have to be in a big urban center as far as I understand it, to be able to get hold of this money eventually. So Speaker 1: 29:41 You've said, you know, this is really about getting artists, a living rage, but I want to know how significant is the arts industry to the state's economy. Speaker 11: 29:49 It's very significant Christina, according to the national assembly of state arts agencies, California's creative sector contributes more than $230 billion. That's 25% of the country's entire creative economy. Um, and, uh, within California, that's it represents 8% of the gross state product, about 800,000 jobs. Speaker 1: 30:11 So how has the industry impacted during the pandemic? Speaker 11: 30:14 It's been nothing short of devastating. Honestly, according to this recent report, by the Otis college of arts and design, the pandemic impacted more than 500,000 creative sector jobs around the state in 2020 and caused a creative economy, output loss of more than $140 billion over the year, Julie Baker, who's the executive director of California arts advocates, which co-sponsored this new bill says, this is why getting it passed is a matter of urgency. Speaker 12: 30:42 It's clear that we've got to make sure that that workforce is maintained in this state and grows. Speaker 1: 30:49 I know there's been criticism around this bill being too vague. Can you tell me a little bit more about what the opposition is to this bill? Speaker 11: 30:55 Yeah. Despite the fact that bill has one overwhelming support in the assembly and Senate, there are a few lawmakers who oppose it. Senator Patricia Bates, who's from down near your neck of the woods, uh, sent me a written statement via email saying, and our quota. It does not specifically address who is eligible for the program where the money will come from and how that money will exactly be used is what she said. Speaker 1: 31:21 That seems like a big one. Do we have a sense of how this program might be funded? Speaker 11: 31:25 That's a really, really big question. So, uh, according to Susan Rubio, who is the state Senator who co-authored the bill, there's basically the process is, is the governor signs, the bill into law. And then the state's arts council and workforce development board are going to create guidelines for the program. And then advocates will push your funding from the state budget. So it's going to be quite a process. And the idea is that they're going to try to start fairly small, sort of do a pilot project and grow from there. Hopefully Speaker 1: 31:59 It happens of governor Newsome. Doesn't sign the bill he does have until October 10th to do so. We'll be these efforts continue. Speaker 11: 32:06 Well, both Susan Rubio and Julie Baker of California arts advocate sing very determined. They both told me they're going to keep campaigning on behalf of arts and culture workers because of the devastating impact of COVID-19 on the creative workforce and the importance of this sector to our state's economy. Speaker 1: 32:22 A lot to keep an eye on. I've been speaking with Chloe Veltman arts and culture reporter at KQBD. Thank you so much, Chloe. You're very welcome, Speaker 11: 32:28 Christina. It's been fun. Speaker 13: 32:33 [inaudible] Speaker 4: 32:43 This is KPBS midday edition. I'm Maureen Cavenaugh with Christina Kim Jane Heinemann is away today, but she hosted our last summer music series artist. And here's that celebration Speaker 14: 32:58 In hard times, music consumed are worried minds and there's nothing quite like gospel music to uplift the spirit Speaker 13: 33:24 [inaudible] Speaker 14: 33:25 Or our last installment of the KPBS summer music series. We're going to hear some wonderful gospel music and learn the history of Negro spirituals, the original American music that gave birth to so many genres we enjoy today. We'll be hearing music from San Diego zone, Martin Luther king, Jr community choir, who since 1996 has been spreading the gospel around the world and funding scholarships for students joining me today is Ken Anderson, the founder and director of the Martin Luther king, Jr. Community choir, San Diego and UCS D's gospel choir director. Ken, welcome. Speaker 15: 34:03 Thank you. Glad to be here. Speaker 14: 34:05 So you are the director and founder of MLK community choir, and a professor who teaches the history of black music. Can you give us some history on Negro spirituals and tell us how important they are to American music? Speaker 15: 34:19 Well, sure. The Negro spirituals songs that the slaves sung to communicate with each other, how and when and where they be wanting to get away opportunities of freedom, the songs, uh, in the songs, you will find stories of, um, the Jordan river, which is a code name for the Mississippi, the Ohio river, the Cincinnati rivers and leaders in the Bible, even God and Jesus, Moses, other leaders in the Bible code name for people like Harriet Tubman. These were leaders in the Bible were code names for the abolitionists and other workers. They were black, white, Hispanic, Asian, just Americans, everyone working together to help slaves get away to the free states to Canada. I even learned of some even escaping to Europe. And when they sang about going home or the promised land or Beulah land, pretty much any good destination, this was a codename for freedom. So in these songs, they were actually communicating and through this system of communication, the underground railroad helped them to get away. Speaker 13: 35:37 [inaudible] [inaudible] Speaker 15: 36:06 And then you can, spiritual is also known as a COVID site, C O D E but not all of the songs Recode it because when she was a child, she was sold away from her brothers and sisters. And that's why she's saying he's got my brothers and my sisters and his hands. He's got the whole world in his hands. And when a baby was born, a baby was taken from her. So to another plantation, that's why she's saying he's got my little bitty baby. Yeah, it, his hands got the whole world in his hands somehow or another that the slaves, they come to an understanding that the churches in the south were abusing the Bible in order to justify slavery. So they didn't reject God. And did they didn't reject the Bible. They just rejected their, you know, their masters, their owners, those who were pro slavery. So many of these songs, they were expressing faith in God. And some of the songs they're singing, just encouraging one another. But when you get to songs like steal away and swing low sweet chariot, there is a balm in Gilead. Add, let us break bread together on our knees and on and on. When you get to songs like this, they were actually communicating. This is when and where and how we're going to get away. Speaker 14: 37:16 Wow. And I think that's interesting because in the song that you mentioned, he's got the whole world in his hands, many people, I think, I think of that song as a song of, of rejoicing. And really it's a song that, that is talking about deep trauma, Speaker 15: 37:30 Deep trauma. And, but, but more to the point, encouragement in the midst of deep trauma, they've been seeing songs like I'm so glad that trouble don't last always, or Lord help me to hold out until my change comes, you know? And, uh, things like that. They're encouraging one another to hold on, keep your hand on the plow, hold on. And even in this song, um, finding encouragement and it was because, you know, they were living in a terrible time and they were basically livestock. They were basically property families broken up beaten and made to work, forced labor. So that song was, you know, it's lifting them up or encouraging them. Hmm. Speaker 14: 38:08 You know, how did you learn to sing and play music? Speaker 15: 38:11 Actually, I started in church, like a lot of other people. Uh, I was four years old when my mother taught me my first song, Jesus, keep me near the cross Speaker 13: 38:35 [inaudible]. Speaker 15: 38:38 She taught me the melody. And I found the notes around the melody to make harmony with it because I remembered, but it sounded like in church. And that's when the family realized something was going on with me musically. And then when I was six, I began playing in church. It wasn't necessarily everything you wanted to hear from someone playing the piano and the other conquer from what I, I don't remember this to tell you the truth, but this is what I'm told. And there are many people in the congregation. If not all saying, please get the kid off the piano. The pastor said, leave him alone. He's the only one showing any interest. We'll keep singing. He'll keep playing. He'll catch on. So when I get to heaven, I will have a great debt of gratitude, but I started playing in church when I was six, a children's choir came to the children's choir director when I was about 15 or 16. By the time I was 17 or 18, I became the head of the music program. And from there I've been directing and singing and playing there. You have it. Speaker 14: 39:35 And what's the mission of the Martin Luther king, Jr. Community. Speaker 15: 39:39 We enjoy singing this music and bringing it to other and seeing the joy and how it lifts people. When we go everywhere, we travel even around the world and, and Dr. Martin Luther king expressed the sentiment and one of his great speeches where he had dreamed to see the different races together, singing the old Negro spirituals in the Martin with the king community choir and UCS D gospel choir in particular, we live that dream. Oh, one of the practical impacts we have on the community is we provide scholarships for graduating high school, seniors, exclusively in the visual and performing arts. Speaker 14: 40:12 Can anyone participate in the choir if Speaker 15: 40:14 You're breathing at regular intervals and you can get through the door, your Speaker 14: 40:19 And how many members tell me about me and how many people are in this choir Speaker 15: 40:23 Average, we sustain a number of between 80 and a hundred. Speaker 14: 40:27 And the choir has performed for different audiences around the world. What's it like, uh, taking the spirit of Martin Luther king Jr. And this, uh, uniquely American music to other countries. Speaker 15: 40:37 Awesome. It's really awesome. Taking it around the world. It's just like taking it around America. Very few people, even in the black church, know the history of the music. So I always give, uh, the history of the music always educated on the music before we begin. If it's during the months of January and February, where we were observing Martin Luther King's birthday, our black history I'll give a more comprehensive and some concerts actually have me lecture for a few minutes on it. So I can give them at least a history and understanding of where the music is coming from. This music comes from a very dark time of American history, just like any other country. America has embarrassing past as well, but the greatness for any country is to be able to recognize when you're wrong, repent and improve and grow. And then that's built into America, the ability to do that. And that's a wonderful thing. The same thing I do in America, I do. And the other seven countries we've been to number eight, was on the way. And then the pandemic hit and we were going to Canada, but we've been, you know, Germany, Prague, Rome. We actually sang at the Vatican and we were at the mass, uh, I believe his last Easter mass Speaker 13: 42:28 [inaudible] Speaker 14: 42:29 That was worship the Lord by Martin Luther king, Jr. Community choir, San Diego. So, so how does this music fit into this particular moment that we're living in right now? Speaker 15: 42:40 I don't know if that gospel music fits into a particular moment so much as it fits into life. That's where music speaks to every aspect of life. Even, even the time of life we're in now, because the music is born out of hard time. I mean, this is not the first time America has been in a hard time. There are times when America seems to be doing very well, but there's always a part of America. That's not doing so well. And so the music speaks to every bottle of life from whether you're rejoicing or you're sad, whether you're succeeding or you're failing and you need to be encouraged to keep going. As long as you're alive, you can still make it, you know, as long as you keep hope, it's very easy to lose hope because there's just a barrage of things that come at you. Speaker 15: 43:18 I mean, if you watch an hour's broadcast, you might get some good news towards the end. They saved the kitten from a tree or a puppy out of a pipe. And then, you know, they kind of fake shuffled their papers while they smiled and tell you to have a good night after they just told you, the whole world is about to go into it. And people are stressed out. What's going on with the pandemic and what's going on with the government and what's going on overseas. And we haven't had time to talk about what's going on in their own homes and in their own lives and relationships and their own hearts and minds. And so there's a lot in this world to stress you out, but there's also a lot in this world to be thankful for and to rejoice over. And just enough, you can just keep going. If you can just hold out till your change comes. Speaker 14: 44:00 And I've been speaking with Ken Anderson, the founder and director of the Martin Luther king, Jr. Community choir, San Diego, and U C S D gospel choir director, Ken Anderson. Thank you so much for joining us. Thank Speaker 15: 44:13 You so much for having me. This was a pleasure Speaker 13: 44:26 [inaudible] Speaker 14: 44:28 That was midday edition, host Jade Hyman catch Speaker 4: 44:31 MLK. CCSDS Ken Anderson and Dale Fleming as part of the Bodhi tree concerts, 10th anniversary celebration that Saturday, September 25th at 7:00 PM at St. James by the sea of Piskel church, go to music series for the full interview and for a video interview, Speaker 13: 47:29 [inaudible].

The FDA and a CDC panel approved a third dose of the Pfizer vaccine for seniors and high-risk groups. Plus, care workers who visit people’s homes are not required by the state to be vaccinated against COVID-19. Then, a private prison in Downtown San Diego remains open despite an executive order by President Joe Biden. Also, the San Diego City Council cleared the way for another attempt to revitalize the city’s Midway district. And, The California Creative Workforce Act is the first of its kind: it aims to grow and diversify the arts workforce and provide a living wage to artists. Lastly, a decades-old San Diego community choir shares the history, trauma, encouragement and rejoicing found in gospel music.