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Health officials continue to monitor omicron variant

 December 8, 2021 at 4:17 PM PST

Speaker 1: (00:01)

How do boosters hold up to Omicron

Speaker 2: (00:03)

Booster shots that are gonna help us a lot, but it's gonna prolong the pandemic. So that's one of the issues we have to be confronting.

Speaker 1: (00:10)

I'm Jade Henman with Kavanaugh. This is KPBS midday edition. The mental health of children is the new focus of a public health advisory. We see more

Speaker 3: (00:30)

And more depression and anxiety presenting since the start of the pandemic.

Speaker 1: (00:34)

The story behind catalytic converter thefts, and five songs to check out for the month of December that's ahead on midday edition,

Speaker 1: (01:01)

The has dominated global discussion of the COVID 19 pandemic since its discovery in Southern Africa. Last month, nationally fears over the new variant have prompted everything from travel bans and a debate over their effectiveness to a renewed push, to vaccinate the population against what could emerge as the new dominant strain. As health officials continue to learn more about Omicron, how it will affect the course of the pandemic remains to be seen. Joining us now with some of our most pressing questions is Dr. Eric Topel director of the scripts research translational Institute in LA Jolla. Dr. Topel welcome back to the program.

Speaker 2: (01:41)

Thanks Jade. Always great to be with you.

Speaker 1: (01:44)

Since last we spoke O Macron has become a centerpiece of discussion in the fight against COVID 19 is the concern we've seen so far warranted.

Speaker 2: (01:53)

Absolutely. We haven't gotten Delta under control and here comes Aron it's it's already, uh, throughout the United States and it's going to be, uh, a, a big, important, uh, challenge for us. Um, the main issue with is the fact that it evade our immune response, both the vaccines, as well as if people have had prior COVID without a vaccine. So this, uh, we're getting a lot more data on, and there are other properties of that are an issue, but this is the one that was, uh, feared. Uh, it forcely, you know, where there's work around plans, particularly booster shots that are gonna help us a lot, but it's gonna prolong the pandemic. So that's one of the issues we have to be confronting.

Speaker 1: (02:39)

Some of the biggest questions that remain over Omicron are it's transmissibility, as you mentioned, and the severity of symptoms it causes, uh, what does the latest data tell us about this?

Speaker 2: (02:51)

There's two components of transmissibility that how it can spread. It looks like Aron has some increased Contag over Delta, which is saying a lot because Delta was so hyper contagious, but it really has a lot of this immune evasion feature. So that's why it's pretty much destined to become a new do strain. Remember Delta took over the whole world and right now, except in a few countries that have the initial ones besides, uh, Southern Africa and Denmark and the UK, most of the countries are in a let well less than 0.1% of Del of Aron they're 99.9% Delta. So that's gonna change, it's gonna evolve to Aron. And that's why we're gonna have to deal with this immune escape or immune Eva property. It's it's a really big deal.

Speaker 1: (03:40)

Do we know if booster shots give added protection against this new variant?

Speaker 2: (03:44)

Right. So yesterday, and then this morning, cumulatively, there have been four new studies, and this is now taking either live virus or what's called a pseudo virus and putting it up against the blood samples from people who have been vaccinated or have had prior COVID, you know, with vaccination, all sorts of different vaccines. What we've learned Jade is that there is a pretty substantial drop in the protection from Aron in our vaccines. However, that is fully restored with the booster shot. So the good news is we have a tool that will get us to meet up with Amran, the challenge of Amran. But the problem we have is that we don't have enough people getting boosters, and we need that because just relying on the original two shots, isn't gonna be enough to tackle AMRO.

Speaker 1: (04:34)

Another major concern is that Omicron can override certain protections, 40 it by vaccines. What do we know

Speaker 2: (04:42)

About that? You know, in South Africa, Ang the main province where this really erupted the epicenter. Now, at least of the Comicon, uh, surge, there were a lot of reports that the people were less sick, but the problem is those people were young. They had, uh, prior COVID and, or they were vaccinated. So that's not a good readout to be able to say that Amron is associated with mild illness. In fact, it's very likely given everything. We know that the illness that it, it induces will be the same as what we've seen with the other, uh, versions of the virus. So I think it's an illusion for us to think it's kind of this hope bias that it won't be as bad right now. We ought counter being about the same, the only good thing, Yate, at least there's no sign that it's more lethal or worse than prior versions of the virus.

Speaker 1: (05:32)

And I've heard something about Pfizer and, uh, it's effectiveness. What's the latest with that?

Speaker 2: (05:38)

Well, Pfizer came out today to show that when you get the booster, you back to high ability to neutralize the virus, which essentially means, you know, inactivate the virus, protect people, and that other studies had already shown it. That's not really new. And they just added on to the three other studies. I mean the, these three reports, one from south African scientists, another from, uh, Sweden, another from Germany, they're all showing essentially the same thing that Amron is gonna pose a really big challenge to us because, uh, whereas Delta responded really well to vaccines. This one is tricky. Uh, if we don't yet, the third shot will be vulnerable. The one important thing to emphasize when I say vulnerable, we're talking about infection, symptomatic infection and ability to transmit that to others. But we do think the two shots that people have had will protect from hospitalizations and deaths largely because the main, main problem with and this is pending.

Speaker 2: (06:39)

Some more data is the, the antibodies, but we do make T-cells from our vaccines. And if we had a COVID infection and those T-cells are the main way that we protect from really severe COVID pneumonia, hospitalizations, that sort of thing. So when I talk about vulnerability, I'm talking about really to infection and, and transmitting to others. There's not nearly the peril or the danger that we're gonna see as the hospitalization issue, but one caveat there, if it's spreading so much more profoundly, a fraction of those people are gonna get sick and, you know, very so that's why these are some unpredictable features that we're gonna learn about as well as the T-cell story in the weeks ahead.

Speaker 1: (07:25)

What role do you think global vaccine equity played in the emergence of this variant?

Speaker 2: (07:31)

You know, the us is, is the main contributor to new COVID right now with 120,000 cases a day out of 700,000 in the world. So while we have to do everything possible to, uh, get, um, global vaccine equity, uh, we have to get our country in order, which it isn't, we haven't control contained Delta at all. We're going through a second Delta surge, which is the immediate issue. So we are in the process, uh, of making, uh, much more vaccine vaccines at scale and distributing those. That's not just the us, that's, you know, many entities that are working on that. It's been too slow. Uh, but hopefully, you know, we'll see improvements there. In the meantime, the, if we talk about global equity, the us has gotta do its part and it isn't doing it right now.

Speaker 1: (08:21)

And many medical experts have expressed cautious optimism, uh, as preliminary data shows that Omicron should not coincide with the rise in hospitalizations. Do you agree with that?

Speaker 2: (08:32)

No, I don't agree with that as for the point that I made is that if you are transmitting so broadly and quickly, so super spreading around the country, some people are gonna get sick. That is people who haven't been vaccinated. People who have been vaccinated, but it's wan it's waned and they haven't gotten a booster. So, no, I don't think we, we that's a false sense of security. Uh, and, uh, like I said, we will know more because countries that were, that have already had a, a demonstrable increases in Aran, like the UK and Denmark hospitalizations are going up quite a bit in South Africa now. So that will play out in the weeks ahead, but I wouldn't wanna forecast us that the hospitals are gonna be spared and patients are, are not gonna get that sick when it's spread so, so much. Uh, that seems to be inevitability

Speaker 1: (09:25)

In my own experience. You know, the primary care physician is not offering the booster shot. It's two weeks to get an appointment through my turn again. Do you think that accessibility to the booster shot is an issue? It doesn't seem to be as widely available as say the flu shot, for example.

Speaker 2: (09:42)

Yeah. Well, it should be. I mean, most people I know who are getting boosters are going to a pharmacy and, um, the appointments there, uh, usually are, are not with much delay. Now. I don't know the latest on at, but that has to be fixed because we need our, uh, population. Every anyone who's gotten to that six month point should have ready access in even before they had gotten to six months to making an appointment. Uh, I hope we don't have to go to mass vaccination centers again to get this thing done. I hope that we have enough channels. The, that exists today. We don't have a shortage of supply of vaccine. It's more the distribution issue.

Speaker 1: (10:21)

I've been speaking with Dr. Eric Topel director of the scripts research translational Institute, Dr. Topel. Thank you very much for joining us. Thank you,

Speaker 2: (10:29)


Speaker 4: (10:40)

It would be a tragedy if we beat back one public health crisis only to allow another to grow in its place. Those are the words of us surgeon general Vivic Murphy from his public health advisory issued yesterday on children's mental health. The advisory is meant to focus attention on an increased rate of depression and anxiety being diagnosed in children. Much of it apparently arising from the stress of the COVID 19 pandemic. The advisory calls for government, social media companies, schools, and parents, to respond to the problem with increased mental health resources. But it's not clear if school social media communities or the government are up to the challenge. And just as a warning to listeners, some of this discussion will concern suicide and suicidal ideation, which some people might find disturbing joining me as Dr. Willow Jenkins medical director of inpatient psychiatry at radi children's hospital and Dr. Jenkins welcome. Thank you for having me on now, this public health advisory says that symptoms of depression and anxiety among youth have doubled during the pandemic. Is this something that you've seen treating patients? Absolutely. We have

Speaker 3: (11:52)

Seen a huge increase in the number of children that have been coming to the inpatient side of the hospital at Brady children's during the pandemic we have had just as an example from September, 2020 to August, 2021. So about six month period, we had 3000, almost 3000 children endorsed suicidal ideation when our emergency room, this is a staggering number. And so absolutely we see more and more depression and anxiety presenting since the start of the pandemic and how

Speaker 4: (12:22)

Young are the children affected.

Speaker 3: (12:24)

It can be quite young. And that's something that we've noticed over the last 10 years that children are presenting younger and younger. So for depression and anxiety can see this down to toddlerhood for the suicidal ideation. Typically we're seeing children down to eight, not usually less than that, but for us, that's far too young.

Speaker 4: (12:43)

And how do younger children exhibit depression or anxiety?

Speaker 3: (12:47)

So for young children, typically what you'll see is more disruptions in their behavior. Maybe they're acting out more, getting into more trouble at school, being a little bit more irritable or short tempered. And of course, disruptions in sleep, not sleeping as well, changes in appetite. These are other signs that your young child might be struggling because they don't always have the capacity to be able to tell you I'm depressed. I'm anxious.

Speaker 4: (13:12)

Now, one of the most disturbing statistics is that suspected suicide attempts by adolescent girls were up 51% in early 20, 21 over last year is social isolation thought to be the main cause of suicidal depression among young girls.

Speaker 3: (13:30)

It would be difficult to say it's the main cause, but I think it certainly is a factor. A pandemic is amplified. We know that the amount of social media use screen time use has increased exponentially with the pandemic and that the quality of these relationships is not the same as in-person relationships. And it leads to feelings, loneliness, and isolation. And so it's been a very large contributor in the last two years, but it's certainly no, not been the only one issues of racial injustice. The political sphere has been very divisive. These are all other issues that have been affecting our adolescence. And

Speaker 4: (14:04)

What other problems are you hearing about that kids are experiencing?

Speaker 3: (14:08)

Well, I think one of the things that is the most striking is that it's children that are marginalized and underserved are youth of color that are being disproportionately affected by the mental health crisis. And so issues like I just mentioned of racial injustice, the political divisiveness, even things as the climate emergency, these issues are weighing heavily on our adolescents and are huge factors. In addition to all of the impact that the pandemic has brought both on youth directly and indirectly through the impact on their families.

Speaker 4: (14:39)

Now when in person schools opened up again, we heard that most kids were very happy about it, but apparently the transition back has been hard for some students. There are anecdotal reports of more absenteeism and acting out at school what's causing this.

Speaker 3: (14:55)

You know, it is difficult to say, cuz it's gonna be individual to the environment and also to the student, but for some students, especially those with disabilities, the transition back to the classroom has been quite difficult. Resources have changed the way things have been set up to support students looks different than it did pre pandemic and retaining staff in different school settings. I know this is the case in San Diego has been challenging. So it makes the accommodations and resources to support students that may need extra support less than what they were. So this can create more problems. In addition, youth have been accustomed to being at home, doing things over the computer. And so for some, it was actually preferable. If you had been bullied or had difficulties with social interactions, perhaps being online was easier than returning to in person. So a lot of different factors for sure, you

Speaker 4: (15:47)

Alluded to this earlier and many child psychologists say the problems of anxiety and depression were already growing among children even before the pandemic. So do you see this as an ongoing problem?

Speaker 3: (15:59)

The pandemic exacerbated an already existing problem. I used the example that at radi children's hospital, we'd seen an huge increase, exponential increase in the need for mental health. That before the pandemic started, we were planning to open a specialized psychiatric emergency room. And as luck would have it, you know, in a sad way, the pandemic started and the need even went further up. So we were able to open our specialized psychiatric emergency room during the pandemic. And it's been full since. So absolutely the need was there before. And the pandemic has just worsened. This crisis that was already present what's

Speaker 4: (16:32)

Signs, should a family look for, if they suspect their child is going through some sort of difficult mental health disturbance,

Speaker 3: (16:40)

A change in their behavior is key. If they're withdrawing from the family, not doing things that they normally enjoy, not hanging out with their friends or changing friend groups, these are all signs that something has gone astray, difficulty sleeping is key changing in appetite, not feeling as energized. These are also signs that something's not going well. And of course the obvious is if your child is talking about it saying, I feel sad. I just don't feel the same. I'm feeling really worried. I'm feeling really anxious. And that's why it's so important to really direct with children and just ask, how are you feeling? Are you feeling sad? And of course asking directly about suicide as well. It's a unfortunately common enough phenomenon in youth that as parents, as teachers, as people working with children, we need to be directly asking them, have you had suicidal thoughts asking about suicide to is not caused suicide? If anything, it saves lives.

Speaker 4: (17:37)

The surgeon general says, communities need to respond quickly with a wide ranging approach to confront children's mental health problems. What would you like to see in that response?

Speaker 3: (17:48)

I would like to see some more funding to be able to allow for expansion of existing programs. And I think that that needs to come from the federal level and it needs to allow access to all families. I also think that we need to very much improve school-based mental health care treatment, provide more support to the schools there at the front lines.

Speaker 4: (18:08)

It's the school teachers, the counselors that are identifying children, you know, at risk. And also we need to improve integration into our primary care and pediatric offices. Because for those of us in this line of work, we believe that prevention is key. These mental health issues are preventable. They are treatable and we need to catch children early. I've been speaking with Dr. Willow Jenkins medical director of inpatient psychiatry at rate eight children's hospital. Dr. Jenkins. Thank you so much. Thank you. If you were someone, you know, are having thoughts of suicide call the national suicide prevention hotline at 802 7 3 8 2 5 5. This is KPBS midday edition. I'm Maureen Kavanaugh with Jade Heman. Thousands of catalytic converters have been reported stolen from cars in San Diego county surveillance videos, show thieves, getting away with the converter before anyone notices KPBS reported. Tanya thorn takes a closer look at how this is happening.

Speaker 5: (19:26)

They're being dubbed cat burglars, but they're not after your jewels. They're target catalytic converters apart found underneath cars that reduces their harmful emissions. Thieve stole catalytic converters from Vista resident, Amanda Hendrix twice. The first time her converter was stolen three days before Christmas, thankfully

Speaker 6: (19:50)

The, um, insurance took care of, of it. They told the police came, they told us park it in the driveway under a light that will discourage. So we did it, everything they said. Um, then April came along and happened again.

Speaker 5: (20:06)

This time her ring camera got footage of the theft happening. Her car was jacked up and the converter stolen and under four minutes,

Speaker 6: (20:15)

It's very frustrating. I'm a light sleeper anyway. And then it just, it adds a level of anxiety that, you know, you, you feel like those are your private things, you know, and to have somebody coming and damaging it, taking it apart, you know, and it just, it felt like such a violation.

Speaker 5: (20:33)

And she's not the only one on this year, more than 1500 converter thefts have been reported in San Diego cameras have captured thefts happening in broad daylight in public places. But why have catalytic converters become a hot commodity? The parts contain platinum and Rium and the price per ounce for these precious metals has gone up in the last year. Toyota Prius converters contain more of these metals, making them the biggest targets

Speaker 7: (21:00)

And they're cutting them anywhere from here to there wherever they can. And, um, run off with them, putting 'em in the trunk and leave. You know, Tony

Speaker 5: (21:06)

English owns wholesale performance muffler in Escondido. He says he sees cars whose converters have been stolen every week, especially after the weekend, they

Speaker 7: (21:16)

Steal the catalytic converters and they sell 'em to recyclers. You know, uh, most of the legit recyclers won't buy 'em, but there are, uh, you know, they, they trickle it down somehow and they get 'em sold somewhere.

Speaker 5: (21:27)

Some insurances do cover stolen catalytic converters, but they don't cover the shield that protects the converter from

Speaker 7: (21:35)

Theft. And that is a Prius shield to keep from stealing the Prius. Catalytic

Speaker 5: (21:40)

Converter English says he's installing more of them.

Speaker 7: (21:43)

Prius is for instance, are $3,600 just in parts when somebody steals your cat catalytic converter. So a $500 shield really sounds like a really good investment, you know,

Speaker 5: (21:52)

While the shields protect the converter law enforcement is trying to crack down on the thefts happening across the county.

Speaker 8: (21:58)

What's happening before is if someone was contacted with, um, catalytic converter say in the middle of the night, and we didn't, we weren't able to link them to a crime. The, that was, you know, what we, we believe was stolen property, but, um, we needed a victim to, you know, file a case matched up to a car.

Speaker 5: (22:17)

Lieutenant B Barrett with the Escondido police department says the district attorney's office has given police the green light to start making arrests.

Speaker 8: (22:26)

In speaking with district attorney's office. I they're saying there is no other reason to have these things in the middle of the night, um, and they are stolen property. So we have the probable cause to make that arrest and they will file on those cases.

Speaker 5: (22:37)

Lieutenant Barreth says since no arrests were being made due to the pandemic, thieves were getting bold. So bold that in August thieves stole a catalytic converter from an Escondido police van surveillance footage helped police catch

Speaker 8: (22:52)

The thieves Tula Vista was able to make a stop on that vehicle. About four days later, um, there were some catalytic converters in that vehicle at the time. Um, unfortunately because of the timeframe difference between the, the, the days that we didn't get, uh, a conviction on our case. But I mean, the, the person was, uh, contacted by law enforcement

Speaker 5: (23:08)

Police depart have also hosted events where community members can get their catalytic converters engraved with their VIN number in case it is ever stolen. Officials recommend parking your vehicle inside a garage or in a wallet area, getting security cameras and alarms, and consider getting a cat shield to protect the converter.

Speaker 4: (23:29)

Joining me as KPBS, north county reporter Tanya thorn and Tanya. Welcome.

Speaker 5: (23:34)

Thank you, Maureen.

Speaker 4: (23:36)

Now the theft of catalytic converters is one of the hot topics on my nextdoor social media site. How did you get interested in the story?

Speaker 5: (23:45)

I mean, it's exactly that right, Maureen. I think we've all heard of these theft happening. We've seen them. I mean, we've seen countless surveillance videos on our nextdoor app on Facebook and it's just, it's popping up everywhere. So I think we've all known somebody or seen somebody that's been impacted by these theft. It's just this problem that seems to be happening countywide.

Speaker 4: (24:08)

And are there hotspots where a lot of these thefts take place or is it, as you say all over the

Speaker 5: (24:13)

County? You know, when I started this, I originally wanted to gather data from all of our local police departments, but that was proving to be really difficult. And you know, it, it, it looked like no city or police department wants to be the one that has the most steps happening, right. But after gathering some data, it really looks like city of San Diego definitely has the most reports just because of the size of the city. I mean, they've had over a thousand reports made, but you know, this is something that is happening countywide and even statewide. I mean, it's really happen everywhere. Now,

Speaker 4: (24:47)

If you get your catalytic converter stolen, can you still drive your car?

Speaker 5: (24:52)

well, the biggest giveaway that your converter has been stolen is that screechy sound. It makes as soon as you turn the key. So that's the biggest giveaway. If you hear that sound, you know, your converter has more than likely been stolen and technically the car is still drive, but the entire trip will be an eerie, loud and screechy ride. So it's probably best to get it towed just for safety.

Speaker 4: (25:14)

The reason why the converters were being stolen, always mystified me. But your report says it's because of the metals that they contained, are they really so valuable?

Speaker 5: (25:24)

You know, they really are. And it eye thiefs keep stealing them. The prices of the metals do go up and down. And the way it works is a thief steals a converter and sells them to a recycler. The thieves are getting a couple hundred bucks, maybe four to $500 for each converter. The recyclers are the ones that are making the bigger money, depending on the market value of the metals at the time. And they have their way of extracting those precious metals that are found inside the catalytic converters.

Speaker 4: (25:53)

The speed of the thefts is amazing considering it's not easy to get underneath the car to remove the converters. How is it usually done?

Speaker 5: (26:01)

You know, it is amazing. I've seen so many videos and they're all under four or five minutes. And from what I've seen is that thieves usually come equipped with only a couple of things. It's usually a carjack, a handheld saw and a flashlight, right? Because they're probably doing this at night and they are very quick. I mean, they can get under there, Jack up the car and they have a lookout. Usually they're with somebody else. Someone's looking out to see if anyone is watching. And I mean, they are in and out. It is really amazing.

Speaker 4: (26:30)

Let's talk about the catalytic converter shields that you mentioned in your report. Do they really make it impossible to steal these things?

Speaker 5: (26:37)

You know, I learned that it's not impossible, but it does provide an extra barrier that these thieves have to get through. So usually what is happening is that if the thief C one of these shields is covering the converter, they're more than likely going to move on to another cart, just because it's gonna take them more time to get to the converter. It might ruin their saw or their whatever they're using to steal these things. So it seems like it's definitely deteriorating the thieves from concentrating on that car and moving on to one without a shield.

Speaker 4: (27:07)

Now that the county da has given permission for police to make arrests. When someone is found with a catalytic converter, what kind of charges is the suspect facing?

Speaker 5: (27:17)

So police are unable to make any arrests because of the booking restrictions due to the pandemic, but now out the da has given them the green light to start making arrests. Because if someone is pulled over in the middle of the night and they have, you know, two, three catalytic converters in their trunk, it is very probable that they have just stolen those converters. So, because it just is so much money to replace these things. We're talking about three to four or $5,000 to get a catalytic converter replaced that is over the $950 limit. So this is automatically a felony. And so the da will start filing cases for these thieves.

Speaker 4: (27:55)

And tell us more about the effort to get VIN numbers put on catalytic converters. Yeah. So,

Speaker 5: (28:00)

You know, if AIE is found with a couple catalytic converters in their trunk, and we can't identify who those catalytic converters belong to, if a VIN number is engraved on this converter, then it really helps the police locate a victim. And that way the case can be complete. And there is a, an entire report that is filed, and this really helps prosecute the thieve. So a lot of auto shops have been working with law enforcement to get the community, to come out and get their VIN numbers engraved on their catalytic converters, because it's become such a problem.

Speaker 4: (28:33)

You know, we've seen so many things arise during the pandemic kind of because there was a pandemic, does law enforcement think that the theft of catalytic converters is something that is specific to these times or something that's gonna last?

Speaker 5: (28:48)

You know, I mean, the thefts of catalytic converters definitely increase peaks of the pandemic. I mean, a lot of people were struggling financially. And so apparently it's easy money because it keeps happening. They're able to get them sold somewhere. But, you know, it's, it's also that these, the price of these metals are, are high again. So if, if it's easy money and the thief see that they can get away with it in four to five minutes, and they're making four or 500 bucks every night, you know, maybe even just stealing one is worth it to them. So it's definitely a result of the pandemic and the price of the medals. But yeah, and so law enforcement is really hoping that now that they are able to make arrest, that the thefts of these converters will ultimately go down.

Speaker 4: (29:29)

I've been speaking with KPBS north county reporter Tanya thorn, Tanya. Thank you.

Speaker 5: (29:35)

Thank you.

Speaker 4: (29:42)

After a pandemic year of buying online holiday shoppers have a unique opportunity this weekend, actually touching and paging through a real book. The north park book fair holiday edition is happening this Saturday with hundreds of new and used books for sale plus food vendors and an open mic. The far is in support of small businesses this holiday season. And joining me with details on the book fair is one of the event coordinators, Jennifer Coburn, Jennifer, welcome.

Speaker 9: (30:13)

Hi, thanks for having me

Speaker 4: (30:15)

Now, bookstores in north park must be so eager for this event. How tough has it for those small businesses during the past year?

Speaker 9: (30:24)

Well, as you know, uh, small businesses across the country have been really hit hard by the pandemic because you know, when, when we're told that you really can't go out, unless you are going to the supermarket or to a doctor's appointment, people start to rely on online retailers, more so buying habits start to change. And that really hits the small business community hard, especially book sellers.

Speaker 4: (30:49)

Now, even before the lockdowns independent bookstores were threatened by online giants like Amazon, were they getting creative to stay afloat.

Speaker 9: (30:59)

They were getting creative and the pandemic forced to be even more creative. You know, when, when we had the lockdown order, one of our book stores, verbatim books decided, okay, if people can't come inside my bookstore, I'm gonna bring my books out to the sidewalk so that people can leaf through brows, talk with other book lover. And we were shocked. There was a line around the corner. People were really hungry for this type of human connection and interaction. So that was kinda what prompted us to have our first north park book fair this summer.

Speaker 4: (31:38)

Can you tell us what people can expect at the north park book, fair holiday edition this week?

Speaker 9: (31:44)

Sure thing they can expect a great time with over a hundred booths. We're gonna have 15 bookstores, 11 small presses, and we're gonna have dozens of local authors, um, like there's historical fiction, favorite Jill hall, pink Chiana poet, Kazi Ali. And if you are not a writer, but want to be writer, Inc is gonna be there. So they can tell you about the classes that they offer for aspiring writers and also for the kids. And there's gonna be plenty of kids. Book sellers and Santa Claus will be there. Will

Speaker 4: (32:16)

The authors at the fair, will they be signing books?

Speaker 9: (32:20)

Sure thing. They'll be signing all of their books. So if you wanna pick up a nice, uh, addition for yourself to cozy up by the fire, with and stuff, the stockings of your book, loving friends, um, they're there to do it.

Speaker 4: (32:32)

Will there be gifts on sale other than books?

Speaker 9: (32:36)

Yeah. We're gonna have other handcrafted, one of a kind gifts. They'll be candles. They'll be chocolates, they'll be cheese. It will be a wonderful street fair for book lovers. And if you've got people who really aren't book lovers, they're gonna still have a good time because we're gonna have live music. We're gonna have tons of things, do things to eat and goods to buy.

Speaker 4: (33:02)

Tell us about some of the safety precautions in place for this event.

Speaker 9: (33:05)

Well, the major safety protocol that we have is that the event is outdoors. We're also gonna have more hand washing stations and bathrooms, and there will be no samplings of foods offered by the food sellers, which is disappointing, but also is gonna keep our guests safe.

Speaker 4: (33:23)

Are you concerned about all the talk about the Omicron variant, keeping the population down for this, uh, event?

Speaker 9: (33:31)

Yeah, the oon variant is of concern, which is why we really double down on our safety precautions.

Speaker 4: (33:37)

We all know what the downsides of the a pandemic are for independent bookstores, but is there an upside, do people suspect the pandemic led to people reading more?

Speaker 9: (33:48)

The pandemic absolutely led to people reading more, um, book riot recently surveyed their members and they found that 58% were reading more during the pandemic, uh, lit hub did a similar or survey. They found 35% of their subscribers, um, or reading more. So people are reading more. They're buying more books, they're listening to audio books and they are downloading eBooks. So book buying is up, but the way people have purchased books has shifted. They've been relying more on online book sellers. So that has led to many book sellers having to get a little more creative. So, as I mentioned, the verbatim books who along with the north park lions club and north park main street are the sponsors of this event. Uh, people are getting really creative. They're bringing their books outdoors. They are having events via zoom events were one of the ways that book sellers really sold a lot of books because people love to connect with authors, ask questions about the writing process, ask questions about how they got their ideas, how they did their research and that wasn't able to happen online. So did it on zoom. There's a book seller in Brooklyn who had people order books online, and then they would deliver them. They would deliver them to their door.

Speaker 4: (35:12)

As you say, I think buying books online has turned into a habit for a lot of people. It's very convenient. It comes fast and you don't have to leave the house, but what do you get from attending a fair like this, or going in person to a bookstore that you can't get online? You

Speaker 9: (35:29)

Know, there is no algorithm that is going to replace human connection. When you have a chance to talk to authors, to talk to book sellers, to tell them, Hey, I like this book. What did you think of this other book by the author? And, you know, Amazon is great. They can recommend things for you. Like if you like this, you'll probably like this, but you can't have a conversation with another human being. And I think we all really that now more than ever.

Speaker 4: (35:58)

And there's also something about actually paging through a book and getting to know it before

Speaker 9: (36:03)

You take it home. And you know what, I dunno if I really wanna live in a world without bricks and mortar bookstores, as you said, you can leave through the books. You can sit down and, and read a couple pages and it's, it's just a wonderful sanctuary from the hustle and bustle of our everyday lives. Jennifer,

Speaker 4: (36:22)

Do you think San Diego's independent bookstores are gonna be able to bounce back from their pandemic decline? I

Speaker 9: (36:28)

Think they already are. And I think that's only going to grow in the future.

Speaker 4: (36:33)

Okay. Then the north park book fair holiday edition this Saturday from 10:00 AM to 5:00 PM at north Parkway and 30th street. I've been speaking to Jennifer Coburn and one of the event coordinators and Jennifer. Thank you so much.

Speaker 9: (36:49)

Thank you, Maureen. It's been a pleasure.

Speaker 1: (36:58)

You're listening to K PBS midday edition. I'm Jade Henman with Maureen Kavanaugh each month. K PBS arch producer and editor. Julia Dixon Evans brings five songs to our attention for us to listen to including new tracks by locals or from bands coming to town on tour. And she joins us with her music picks for the month of, of December. Julia. Welcome.

Speaker 10: (37:20)

Hi Jade. Thanks for having me.

Speaker 1: (37:22)

So first up we have a San Diego band called the phases with their track remote control. Tell us about them, the

Speaker 10: (37:29)

Phases. They're having a bit of a moment right now. They went on tour with beach goons earlier this fall and played shows across the country, including who a packed house at the observatory here. And they also just played with in fluorescence last week at the loft at U C S D. And they're gonna play soda bar with the havenots on December 30th. And I love their sound. It's kind of a mix of, of lofi grit. Along with sweetness, it's kind of like a nostalgic yearning. It definitely betrays their youth and they recently put out a new single called remote control. The lyrics are equal parts, angry, fed up and a bit dystopic nursery rhyme like the lyrics, the gesture lost his hand in the court. The king won't listen anymore. And it it's like this synth out pop song. It's perfectly grungy.

Speaker 11: (38:40)

My dream

Speaker 1: (38:48)

That's remote control by the phases and playing soda bar. This coming weekend on Saturday is another artist from your list, Juliana Zacharia. She has a new track called she tell us why she wrote this song.

Speaker 10: (39:00)

Yeah. So Juliana Zacharia told me that this song is about how she wishes. She had come out to her parents and just kind of the strangeness of having to come out in the first place. She said that she had played this song on recently and that the energy in the room absolutely transformed when this song would be played. It's about how being gay is not the life her parents wanted for her. But the difference is just an S in front of the H and the E the song overall feels really Anthem, but also were intimate and personal from her own lived experience. And I especially adore that repeated line. Love is bigger than fear. Why do you think I'm here? I saw Julian Zacharia play live in July, and it was such a joyous earnest and really fun show. So I can't wait to see her again on Saturday, she's working on a new album, which is expected to be out in the spring. And the single is the latest little taste of that album.

Speaker 11: (40:05)

Love ready?

Speaker 1: (40:28)

That was Juliana, Zach R with she next, we head down to south bay to hear from Chula Vista's Los saints. They'll play a show on December 14th, also at soda bar. Let's hear their track. I'm in need.

Speaker 11: (40:41)

Maybe things will get better now attention.

Speaker 10: (41:00)

So Los saints has this super melodic sound. I've seen them described as bedroom pop, which is kind of a genre defying sound known for intimacy or minimalism. And there's a ton of emotion in this, and just a little bit of an edge. I really like this single from 2020 called I'm in need. And they released this along with a bunch of other pandemic fueled projects, like in this burst of creativity, including a three part song cycle with music videos for each one, but I'm in need is about not really feeling like everything is perfect, but that it's okay. It's a relatively quiet tune with a lot of ache and definitely some resolve and Los saints will play with three LH at soda bar on Tuesday.

Speaker 1: (41:55)

And that's low saints with I'm in need now for your out of town, pick Oakland band fearing who are coming to town Sunday night, tell us about their latest, full length album and, uh, one of their singles pictured. Perfect.

Speaker 10: (42:09)

Yeah, fearing is a pretty goth post punk band. They kind of build on all of the members, former punk band chops, but then it all is kind of washed out with a, with a mellower darker mood, a little bit like shoe gaze. And I instantly thought of former local soft kill or blood ponies when I heard fearing and they put out an album in 20 called shadow. One of my favorite tracks from there pictured perfect is this devastating sprawling and cinematic song, not just in the sound, but in the lyrics too. There's some really great scene setting in their songwriting and they're on tour right now and coming to soda bar on Sunday, performing with tennis system,

Speaker 11: (43:10)


Speaker 1: (43:24)

That was pictured perfect by Oakland band fearing. And finally Oceanside's own. Shane hall is your next pick with his song. Life up

Speaker 11: (43:50)

It's been

Speaker 1: (43:56)

Shane hall will be playing the CA by this Friday, December 10th. Talk to us about this pick

Speaker 10: (44:01)

Shane hall is a blues and soul powerhouse. You recently put out a live album and then a brand new video for this track life up. And it's the very first glimpse we've had of his forthcoming release. It's an EP called the slow, and it's something like a detour from his more raucous blue sound that the energy still comes through. It's paired down with this Sonic backdrop, the FCI harmonies and DESS, and then this, this dash of heartbreak. It really is a gorgeous track. And I can't wait to hear the rest of the EP for a Friday show at the Kaba. Shane hall will be playing with the great Jake nature in the moment of truth, chunky hustle, bras band, and Emily Afton.

Speaker 1: (44:46)

You can find a playlist of all these songs and details on the concerts at our website. I've been speaking with KPBS arts producer and editor, Julia Dixon Evans. Julia, thank you.

Speaker 10: (44:56)

Thanks so much, Jade.

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As health officials continue to learn more about omicron’s emergence, how it will affect the course of the pandemic remains to be seen. Plus, Surgeon General Vivek Murthy issued a health advisory on children’s mental health to highlight an increased rate of depression and anxiety being diagnosed in children, mainly stemming from pandemic stress. Also, a look at the rise in catalytic converters thefts in San Diego County. And, holiday shoppers have a unique opportunity this weekend to page through new and used books at the North Park Book Fair Holiday Edition. Finally, five songs to listen to for December.