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Pfizer asks FDA to allow COVID-19 vaccine for kids under 5

 February 2, 2022 at 4:06 PM PST

Speaker 1: (00:01)

The latest on vaccines for children and long COVID.

Speaker 2: (00:04)

We had the highest number of children infected and hospitalized in the whole pandemic. So this is a response to a crisis. I'm

Speaker 1: (00:12)

Jade Henman with Maureen Kavanaugh. This is KPBS midday edition. Academic free speech is in the spotlight after comments from a Dean at SDSU.

Speaker 3: (00:29)

It's a, an example that there are a lot more people looking at. Who's saying what on Twitter,

Speaker 1: (00:34)

The unexpected collaboration between a charter school and the old English game of squash and check in with a local comic book publisher that's ahead on midday edition San Diego mark, a new COVID milestone today as the county is set to Surpas 700,000 cases since the pandemic began as more signs point to a gradual slowing of the current Omicron surge vaccines for children as young as six months could be available soon. Joining me now is Dr. Eric Topel director of the script's research translational Institute in LA Jolla. Dr. Toal welcome back to the program.

Speaker 2: (01:25)

Good to be with you

Speaker 1: (01:26)

G so are we seeing the peak of this current OCN surge?

Speaker 2: (01:30)

Well, for now, yes. Uh, Aron is basically, uh, going on descent throughout the country throughout California and San Diego, which is good. Uh, whether it will go way down, isn't entirely clear, but at least it's reducing the toll on our medical resources and, uh, not spreading like it was. So these are really good signs

Speaker 1: (01:53)

And big news this week, as Pfizer has applied for vaccine approval for children ages six months to five years. Uh, this is a bit complicated because we already know the at Pfizer's two dose regimen for children, ages two to five was not protective. Um, however, it was found to be protective for children six months to two years. Can you explain what you know about why they are still applying for approval?

Speaker 2: (02:17)

Right. Well, this is a little complicated Jade because the adult dose was 30, my grams of the mRNA, and that was also the dose, um, that was used in teens. And then when they used the dose for five to 11 year olds, they dropped it down to 10. And then when they tried to go from babies to age five, they dropped it down to three. So what happened was they went down too low, which is great for safety. I mean, it's excellent, but it really wasn't enough of the exposure, uh, of the spike mRNA, uh, for, particularly for ages two to five. So a third dose is ongoing to rev that up and, uh, that probably will be all that's needed to give really strong protection, but we're only gonna see those data in the weeks ahead. Mm.

Speaker 1: (03:06)

So then what do you make of this? Well,

Speaker 2: (03:08)

This is unusual because typically you'd have all the data secure and done, uh, reviewed before there would be an approval, but it looks like the interest here is because there's a lot of children younger than age five who are getting sick. Some of them actually in the hospital, the idea is to get them at least started with their first dose because by the time the third dose data will be ready and it's likely it'll be, uh, quite good that they would be on their way towards the third dose. To me, jaded would be better if it was just a two dose, uh, program of course. And they started out with a higher dose, but I give, I give 'em credit because they were trying to not, you know, give too much, this is what happened essentially in the teens where we saw, even though it was rare, the myocarditis issue, because they didn't drop the dose down. Whereas in the five to 11 of an age group, the kids did incredibly well and worldwide, there's like 11 cases of myocarditis out of, you know, 10 million plus kids. And those, all those cases recovered fully. So it is a lot about this dose story. And, uh, here, the compensation is a third dose. Uh, another way to go for it. Would've been just reload with a somewhat higher dose, um, uh, for the young children.

Speaker 1: (04:25)

What do you think the risk is in moving forward with this request?

Speaker 2: (04:29)

I don't think there's any risk because the safety is there's a non-issue the real issue is will the third dose provide the immune protection that we have seen in all the other age per I think it's very likely, but, um, this is, this is not typical. It's because we're in a BA a pandemic. And recently, uh, as you know, we had the highest number of children, both infected and hospitalized, uh, in, in the whole pandemic. So in, in a way, this is response to a crisis. Can you

Speaker 1: (04:59)

Remind us what have the company found in terms of side effects for the vaccine, for children as young as six months?

Speaker 2: (05:06)

Well, for young children, the only side effects were the typical ones that we've seen, which is the soreness in the arm. And, uh, you know, occasional fevers, chills, you know, what we call reactogenic. So the, these are minor transient side effects. So that's why the, you know, the, the vaccines were tolerated incredibly well throughout all, uh, children at all ages,

Speaker 1: (05:28)

The issue of childcare and the impact of this on working parents has been a huge issue during the pandemic. How do you see vaccinating this population affecting families with kids in daycare?

Speaker 2: (05:39)

Well, the uptake in children overall, including teens has been very low and it's really unfortunate. There's a lot of reasons why it helps. One is it of course, helps to protect those children from getting infection. But of course, it's also the network of all the people that they connect with, whether it's a daycare or preschool or a school, you know, it helps to keep that fully functional and prevent the spread that uh, can occur. Uh, and also there is an issue about long COVID in children. It's about one half to one. Third is common as adults, but it's a big deal when it occurs and it can be debilitating. So lots of reasons why children of all just should get vaccinated. Unfortunately, their parents, even though oftentimes their parents were vaccinated, they're, they're not moving forward and getting their, their children done as well. So that's really unfortunate and it defies the data, which we really is strongly supportive of vaccination. And

Speaker 1: (06:34)

You mentioned long COVID, um, has there been any more reason search on the impact of long COVID in children?

Speaker 2: (06:40)

Yes. Uh, we've seen more in, in recent weeks. Uh, the fact that, uh, as I mentioned, the incident, uh, in children, there's concerns about, uh, impairing cognitive development. We have issues of fatigue and as well as things like difficulty, breath, breathing, joint aches, I mean, a lot of symptoms that can be ongoing for many, many months, even after a mild infection. It's not common. It's certainly in only a few percent of kids, but remember how many kids have been getting infections in recent weeks because of Aron? We don't know the story about Aron and long COVID. We only lean know it from the prior versions of the virus.

Speaker 1: (07:21)

We continue to hear about the next steps of the pandemic and whether it will move into an epidemic or an endemic phase, um, what the virus itself have to change in order to reach that endemic phase.

Speaker 2: (07:34)

I mean, we would've been there a long time ago in terms of containing the virus had, we got out into 90% vaccinated and all those people vaccinated, boosted, uh, we're still far from that. So we're highly vulnerable, uh, here in San Diego and, and actually throughout California and United States. Uh, and we did much, uh, worse than Northern California in the bay area where they had a much higher rate of both vaccination, a and use of boosters. So we are vulnerable, uh, that we're gonna get into a more quiet phase, but the containment of getting, you know, unusual infections, we're not gonna get there unless we get, uh, higher levels of vaccination and boosting because there is, uh, a problem throughout the world of a large proportion of people have never had a vaccine, particularly in Africa. Uh we're in this together. And so unless we get the whole world high level of vaccinated, uh, or the protection from prior COVID that can be seen, we're not gonna have containment and it's not. This containment is really the story that we're after, which is it's very unusual to know of someone who has an active COVID infection or is having, you know, real getting really sick from one we'll get there eventually. But, uh, we would get there much faster if we had the vaccination rates up.

Speaker 1: (08:52)

I've been speaking with Dr. Eric Topel director of the scripts research translational Institute, Dr. Topple. Thank you very much. Thanks Jay. In December Monica, Casper, who is Dean of the college of arts and letters at SDSU took to Twitter and made comments about conservatives. Her tweet was met with swift backlash and even threats to the campus. Now they are part of a larger conversation about academic free speech. Gary Robbins has been covering this for the San Diego union Tribune and joins us now, Gary, welcome.

Speaker 3: (09:30)

Hi, it's good to be with you.

Speaker 1: (09:31)

All right. So what did Monica Casper say in her tweet that provoked so much,

Speaker 3: (09:37)

Well, let me read it verbatim. It says just so we're clear on the rights agenda, racism, good abortion, bad money, good women, bad capitalism, good sustainability, bad stupidity, good science, bad power, good equality, bad white people. Good. Non-white people, bad stench. Indeed.

Speaker 1: (10:02)

How do Dean Casper's words fit into a bigger national dialogue about academic free speech?

Speaker 3: (10:09)

Well, they fit in, in a very strong way because, uh, these kinds of comments are being all over made at campuses all over the United States. And they're co causing a lot of angst. Now, as you really emphasize that, um, some of the comments are against people who are liberal. Some are against people who are conservative. It's not just one side or the other. This is going back and forth. Um, just recently Robert Wrights, the former labor secretary in the Clinton administration made a comment, uh, while teaching at UC Berkeley, he got on, um, a Senator Christian cinema after she voted against a filibuster, he went on Twitter and suggested that she'd be physically struck by other, um, members of the democratic party. Um, he took the tweet down, so there's a lot of really raw language out there. And it gets picked up in amplified very, very quickly.

Speaker 1: (10:56)

And you spoke to an SDSU literature or professor Peter Herman about the issue of academic free speech as well. Uh, what did he have to say?

Speaker 3: (11:04)

He said that it's an example of intolerance on American campuses. He says when people see something like that, it tends to confirm in their mind that professors are in fact liberal and that they think like this, but he also said, um, some of the other tweets that you see on line do the opposite. You see conservatives making remarks about liberals that are just as biting and in the end, what you have is total polarization instead of any type of effort for both sides to understand each other.

Speaker 1: (11:30)

Did Dean Casper express any regrets about the tweet and the impact it had? She

Speaker 3: (11:36)

Did. Uh, she sent an email to some of the faculty saying that she felt very badly that the tweet had blown up like that and brought a lot of negative publicity to the university, including threats against the university and that it put her in a bad light because she's the Dean of one of the largest, um, colleges at your, at the university. Um, she did in some sense, blame the media on, on this, but she, she did express a sense of remorse that something like that took off,

Speaker 1: (12:03)

How did the university respond to what Dean Casper said?

Speaker 3: (12:07)

Well, in an unusual way, president de LA to about a month after she made this remark, went on Twitter herself and said the following, I will always stand by the right to free speech, but I do not condone or agree with what she said. I do not support actions that seek to divide us, uh, or to undermine civic discourse for any reason at SDSU. We welcome everyone. We benefit from learning from one another. When we participate in civic engagement, across the spectrum of so social and political discourse, even when we disagree with one another, this makes our university great. That was really unusual because it's very rare for, uh, a university president to publicly call out and criticize a Dean. Um, so that's part of what, uh, caught people's attention. It wasn't just the college fix writing about until we wrote about it. Other publications, because it was just so unusual.

Speaker 1: (12:59)

Dean Casper is not the first SDSU academic for whom academic free speech has thrust them into the spotlight. What impact have these various instances of speech had on these professors?

Speaker 3: (13:11)

You know, that's a great question because sometimes it's unclear year, last year in April, a, a lecturer at San Diego state named Bob Jordan used a racial stereotype in an online class to make a, a point within about cinema. And it really offended a lot of people. Uh, someone took a video from the online class, put it on Twitter and it blew up right away. Um, and you know, he got incredible, uh, criticism. Now, the university stood by his right to free speech, but they put someone else in the class to finish that class. And far as I can tell, he hasn't, um, taught at the university since then the university says he's been working on a university project, but if I'm really clear what his status is, uh, I talked to Dr. Jordan last year or professor Jordan last year. And he said that the university told him not to say anything.

Speaker 3: (13:59)

The university said the opposite. So it's not always clear what happens. I also talked to Jonathan Robert, um, a political science professor at San Diego state, who in 2017 made a really controversial remark about Senator John McCain. When McCain made an announcement that he was, that he had cancer. Robert went on and said that, um, McCain was a war criminal, and hadn't done as much as he could to help, uh, people in public health. Um, you know, Robert got a lot of heat for that comment. Uh, a lot of people thought it was really Anant thing to say. Um, he, I talked to Robert, um, about a week ago, said, you know, I learned that whatever you say online can really blow up. And I guess I really wasn't aware of how bad it could be, but he did tell me that it has not stopped him from speaking freely on campus. And he spoke very freely to me when we,

Speaker 4: (14:51)

Uh, did an interview.

Speaker 1: (14:53)

Hmm. I've been speaking with Gary Robbins reporter for the San Diego union Tribune. Gary, thank you so much for joining us.

Speaker 4: (15:00)

Thank you.

Speaker 1: (15:10)

You are listening to K PBS midday edition. I'm Jade Henman with Maureen Kavanaugh. The community of Southeast San Diego is being infused with new resources to help children reach college and their career goals. K PBS education reporter mg Perez tells us about the unexpected collaboration between a charter school and the old game of squash.

Speaker 5: (15:35)

There is a distinct sound to squash. The old English game played to score points with rackets slamming small rubber balls against the walls of a court.

Speaker 6: (15:45)

I guess the big question is why is it called squash it's cause the balls squashing.

Speaker 5: (15:49)

That's the simple explanation from Dion Saffy squash manager at the access youth academy on Euclid avenue in Southeast San Diego, the academy offers squash lessons on the courts and academic tutoring in a classroom after school neighborhood charter school, students are invited to both. Affy says it's a perfect combination. If you're

Speaker 6: (16:10)

A good player, is mental, like a it's mental experience. You've gotta think your way around the core. You've gotta use those tactics to be able to win.

Speaker 5: (16:19)

Even if you're not a great player, there are benefits 11 year old Teresa Joyce says she's not a great player and she loves it here. It's

Speaker 7: (16:27)

A really safe place where everyone can help you. And it just gets your mind off of things. When you're in the court, hear a little bit about

Speaker 5: (16:36)

This. Okay. There is a sixth grade student at the nearby Kip preparatory academy, a tuition free charter that opened about a year ago at its new location. Just steps from the UFLI avenue trolley station. As a public charter school, there is an extended school day, allowing students more time for study and extracurricular activities like learning to play squash through the access youth program. Alan is a Spanish word that means ahead or making progress. The charter is also about choice. According to school leader, Roxanne, Cal Perth weight. We

Speaker 8: (17:10)

Want it to be a choice for them, for them to say a, okay, I want to go to college because this is the pathway that will open for me. Or I have a choice to be able to maybe not pursue college. However, I pursue a path that is best for me.

Speaker 5: (17:24)

The Alane school currently has 370 students who live in the neighborhood and also commuters who come from as far away as Barrio Logan in downtown, there is room for almost a hundred more students in this program offering strong academics, social, emotional learning, and a physical and mental health curriculum. Carolina Yuna is a seventh grade student who never expected to find her way from class to a squash court.

Speaker 7: (17:51)

Two people came in my classroom and they talked about squash and they talked about how it could help with college. The program can help with college and like your health,

Speaker 5: (18:07)

The game of squa, she's intentional in this combination of learning and athletics. Squash is not widely played at many colleges and not as competitive for scholarships as other sports. Aiden Ente is a 10th grade charter student, happy to help her odds.

Speaker 9: (18:23)

I have pretty big ambitions, I would say like academic-wise. So it'd just be really cool. I think to like offset that with another sport,

Speaker 5: (18:31)

The access youth academy for tutoring and squash lessons and the new Adelante campus are part of a master plan to redevelop and infuse resources into a 60 acre area of Southeast San Diego. The plan is partially funded by the Jacobs center for neighborhood innovation. Jones is the president and CEO.

Speaker 2: (18:52)

We hope within that, uh, to demonstrate a way of community building that can be modeled in other areas to build out the entire of Southeastern San Diego and create a more vibrant

Speaker 5: (19:07)

Place for now the charter school and squashed academy continue recruiting for more students. Young Teresa joy reminds us she's happy to already be a member of both.

Speaker 7: (19:18)

I do wanna be a pro squash player, but if it comes to a job, maybe like a nurse or a dentist

Speaker 5: (19:25)

Squash player or

Speaker 7: (19:26)

A nurse, yeah.

Speaker 5: (19:28)

She and many other students now have more choices as they continue their journey in the classroom. And on a squash court mg Perez, KPBS news,

Speaker 10: (19:49)

San Diego unified is this state's second largest school district serving more than 121,000 students, but it is just one of 42 school districts in the county. 11 of those districts serve fewer than a thousand students. And the smallest district has an enrollment of 32, an investigative report by the voice of San Diego found proliferation of school districts is more than just a quirky, fun fact. It could be a waste of money, resources, and a holdover from the bad old days of segregation. Joining me as voice of San Diego education reporter will hunts ferry will welcome back. Thanks

Speaker 3: (20:28)

For having me, Maureen

Speaker 10: (20:29)

42 school districts in Sandy seems like a lot. Did that number surprise you?

Speaker 3: (20:35)

Yeah, it did. It's always kind of surprised me a little bit. You know, I've been covering education here for a little more than three years and, um, I'm from North Carolina there. We have basically one school district for per county, even in the bigger metropolitan areas. And so I've always been fascinated in this setup that we have in San Diego county of 42 school districts and kind of what that means for students

Speaker 10: (21:01)

Now, besides San Diego unified, which are the largest districts in the county.

Speaker 3: (21:05)

Well, you've got Sweetwater in south bay. It's the next biggest 40,000 students roughly it serves just high school. Powerway unified is the next biggest.

Speaker 10: (21:16)

And of course you found the smallest too. Tell us about Spencer valley school

Speaker 3: (21:21)

District Spencer valley served last year 32 students, and that's based enough students to fill one classroom in a lot of school districts. And the funny thing about Spencer valley is that it's sandwiched inside of Julian union high school district and Julian union elementary school district. Those are both really tiny as well. So for these five schools out in east county that are all, you know, in the same area, you have three distinct and different school districts.

Speaker 10: (21:53)

Now you point out in your report that all of these districts have to have the same type of administrative staff. They all have to have a superintendent and a school board, no matter how small

Speaker 3: (22:04)

They are. We have quite a few school districts here in the county that just operate one school. But even though they only have one school, they still have an elected board of education. They have to pay to run those elections. They still have a superintendent. They still have an attendance compliance officer. So there's a lot of duplication in that administrative work. Definitely

Speaker 10: (22:28)

Tell us about the difference in per pupil funding. In these various districts.

Speaker 3: (22:33)

I found a huge difference in the amount of per pupil funding that these school districts get. If you look at the 11 smallest districts in the county, each of those have less than a thousand students on average, they get about $23,000 per student that they serve. If you look at the biggest other 33 districts, they get about 13,000 per pupil in state funding. And so it's almost twice the difference in per pupil funding that you see among these school districts, because there's like baseline funding that comes from the state. And when you, you have such few students that translates into a lot of dollars. And so, you know, it's a worthwhile question to ask, is this the kind of funding disparities that we wanna see in our schools?

Speaker 10: (23:22)

And how did all these different school districts develop

Speaker 3: (23:25)

California around 1850, I believe, um, created right to a public education and school districts started popping up all around the state. And so at that time, you know, housing itself in various communities was already pretty segregated. Frequently. People of one race lived over here and people of another race lived over there and that might be just around the corner, but it was still very segregated. And when the school district boundaries were being drawn, they were usually being drawn in a way that kept some people on one side of town and the other people on the other side of town. And so we ended up with these school districts, you know, with segregated populations and the thing about having a bigger school district, you know, if you've got a small district that cuts out one community while keeping in another, if you make it bigger and you have the opportunity to balance school populations and, and there's a lot of reasons, that's a good thing.

Speaker 3: (24:32)

You know, research shows that high poverty schools can be a very challenging place to learn. In one thing you can do about that is you can try to put more resources into high poverty schools, make sure they get more money for the counts they need and for the teachers they need. But the other thing you can try to do is make sure there aren't high poverty schools to begin with. And the way you could do that is by expanding some of these school district boundaries and making sure you mix up these student populations more and integrate them more. Do

Speaker 10: (25:03)

We see school district boundaries, having an hacked on segregating students today?

Speaker 3: (25:08)

One of the most interesting examples you might look at are the Escondido union school districts and the Powerway unified district, those districts, but up against each other, they're right next to each other, but they're very different in terms of their diversity of students. You know, Powerway has, has less poverty and it's much more white, about 40% of its students are white and, uh, Escondido is much more Latino district. Uh, it only has 20% white students and it has, um, more poverty and, you know, Powerway unified has this like great reputation as a school district in San Diego, right? People really want to go to Powerway and it's not exactly that same reputation in Escondido. You know, that's just a really classic example of a place where, what would we think about these school districts, if the diversity and them were different. And do we like the fact that there's this segregation butted up right against each other, right. Did in two districts butted up right against each other.

Speaker 10: (26:13)

I've been speaking with the voice of San Diego education reporter will hunts will.

Speaker 3: (26:17)

Thanks a lot. Thank you, Maureen.

Speaker 1: (26:29)

A stepping stone can be used to build pathways and that's just what's happening at a rehab center with that name in city Heights. That pathway is for L LGBTQ individuals struggling with alcohol and substance abuse. K PBS speaks city Heights, reporter Jacob a tells us more. And we wanna warn you. Some of the stories he found there are difficult to hear.

Speaker 11: (26:53)

Joey Johnson says he started messing with drugs when he was

Speaker 12: (26:55)

16. And you know, I found meth really, you know, pretty easily

Speaker 11: (27:00)

Johnson says the drugs helped to soThe his internalized pain about his sexual orientation. I

Speaker 12: (27:05)

Think a major reason that I've come to learn why I chose to, you know, escape, so to speak, um, and use drugs and alcohol was because I've never necessarily been comfortable with the fact that I'm a gay man. I've always been in the closet growing up. I, I will. Wasn't comfortable in high school coming out. I pretty much to be honest, I pretty much hated the person that I was.

Speaker 11: (27:29)

That's where stepping stone comes in. The recovery center first opened its stores in city Heights in 1976. And hasn't stopped serving the community since then, even through an ongoing pandemic stepping stone outpatient director, Pam Highfield says the rehab facility has come a long way from it tumble roots.

Speaker 13: (27:47)

So they got together, they formed a nonprofit, um, and it got the property. It was at the time four or six little cottages here. And we, how we got kicked off, that's how we started. And then over the years is continued to grow.

Speaker 11: (28:00)

Highfield says the nonprofit organization is the only one in the region that specializes in the LGBTQ community.

Speaker 13: (28:08)

A lot of places turn to us when dealing with issues related to the community. Um, we do a lot with transgenders. That's been out the gate, so that's that's of course every place has to now, but back in the day, um, the other facilities didn't know what, what do they do, right? And we would bring 'em in here and incorporate 'em into our population.

Speaker 11: (28:29)

And for graduates of stepping Stone's residential program in city Heights, the organization also offers a sober living program. Johnson began that process recently, the 32 year old has been to a couple of different rehab facilities and relapsed more than once, but he says he felt it at stepping stone, unlike at other treatment centers, you

Speaker 12: (28:48)

Know, making bad choices and using drugs has constantly led me to homelessness and, um, you know, selling my body, um, ending up in the hospital more times than I'd want, you know, for numerous reasons. Um, so yeah, I pretty much lost my way. This was a one place. I, I felt a special closeness to people, um, that no one nowhere else could really provide.

Speaker 11: (29:11)

Chris Miller is the organization's director of programs, but he was once a client and says, stepping stone saved his life.

Speaker 14: (29:17)

23 years ago, I went through a stepping stone, outpatient. Um, I've been clean and sober since

Speaker 11: (29:24)

Then. Miller says many people still misunderstand substance abuse and how it affects the LGBTQ community. He says many clients feel a sense of shame when reaching out for help. No,

Speaker 14: (29:34)

There's, you know, stigma of the addiction. There's, you know, stigma of being gay and lesbian, not accepted in the, uh, community, uh, transgender, we serve transgender clients. Um, some of the individuals are HIV positive. So there's, um, stigma associated with

Speaker 11: (29:53)

That. Joe wescot is the lead counselor at stepping Stone's outpatient facility in north park. But back in 2017, he was a client too.

Speaker 15: (30:01)

We, we tackle the reasons why they use it's and majority of our clients are, um, meth users. And there's a lot of Dr um, drug sex links that we have to work through. And this is just a safe place for them and myself to do that

Speaker 11: (30:18)

For wescot. The best part of the center was in and still is the community. It offers

Speaker 15: (30:23)

Initially when I left here, I, I would come back and just sit downstairs on the benches, um, when I was feeling a little squirrly or, or having a lot of cravings. Um, so this place has, um, is it has just a feeling and they, they call it like the there's a miracle here that

Speaker 11: (30:41)

Happens for clients who have attended different stepping stone programs. Over the years, Miller says the journey often comes full circle like it did for himself. And wescot they work for the organization that provided them sobriety to help the stepping stone community further grow. And with it guide others like Johnson to follow similar pathways to recovery, Jacob air K PBS news,

Speaker 10: (31:14)

As much of the country shivers under a blanket of snow and ice. The sight of San Diego's sun and beaches might be very enticing. That's what the San Diego tourism authority is hoping as it launches a new 8 million ad campaign. That includes a TV commercial with lots of happy, sunny, San Diegos. So with

Speaker 16: (31:34)

Your happy and you know, it, throw your hands up and show it if your happy and you know, it clap your hands. You love the life you living. Go ahead and dive, shaking, shaking, like you mean it show me what

Speaker 10: (31:53)

You got. The, if you're happy and you know what TV spot will run during super bowl. Pre-game programming March madness and other big sports events, but it remains to be seen at the time. Time is right for a big tourism marketing campaign. Are people really ready to travel and get happy in San Diego? Joining me as Carrie K pitch. She's chief operating officer for the San Diego tourism authority and Carrie, welcome to the program. Hello, thank

Speaker 17: (32:20)

You. What

Speaker 10: (32:21)

Made the tourism authority decide that the time is ripe for people to start traveling to San Diego?

Speaker 17: (32:26)

Well, spring and summer is the peak travel season, and we are really excited that we have the opportunity to invite people to San Diego. To once again, enjoy our beautiful destination. We've been able to continue to market San Diego as a leisure travel destination throughout the last few years. And when we do put that welcome mat out, what we see is that people are very eager to come into San Diego and enjoy the beautiful destination that we have and the wide variety of activities that we offer. We've been able to do these things in an environment that is really respect of our community and the needs of our community, able to generate those visitor dollars while doing so in a way that is safe and fun

Speaker 10: (33:12)

Is this TV spot playing all over the country?

Speaker 17: (33:15)

The TV spot will be mostly playing in our Western reach markets, Los Angeles, San Francisco, Phoenix, and Sacramento. But we do have a layer of digital advertising that will be seen nationally. It's about 25% of the media buy. So that means that yes, you will have people seeing this across the country and seeing it while the country's really dealing with some very cold weather. Unfortunately,

Speaker 10: (33:40)

Now we played a clip from the TV. Commercial listeners can see it on YouTube, but can you describe it for us? What San Diego attractions does it show?

Speaker 17: (33:49)

So the TV spot that we have is really showing the outdoor beauty of San Diego, which is what people are looking for. When they're thinking about travel destinations, we were able to you film, uh, in a variety of coastal areas and be able to also show the beauty of B Bella park. So it is a fun and lighthearted spot. Um, it takes an old nursery rhyme happy, and you know it, and it's been reinterpreted using a very, uh, fresh take on the song that was produced by a nationally artist, Michael Franti.

Speaker 10: (34:22)

Now this campaign seems to present a more diverse San Diego than in the past, is that

Speaker 17: (34:28)

Right? We're always trying to make sure that we are reflective of what San Diego is. And as a community, and as a destination, we offer a great deal of diversity. We did research last summer and people to talked about regardless of who they are and where they're from, they feel welcomed in San Diego, they see themselves here. And so we wanted to make sure that the TV spot really reflected that diversity and that welcoming spirit.

Speaker 10: (34:56)

Now we know that the various COVID lockdowns and surges hurt the traveling hospitality in industry very badly. How has the industry coped with such tremendous losses?

Speaker 17: (35:07)

It has been a very difficult time over the last two years through the pandemic. What you saw happen is that businesses worked very closely with the county of San Diego to ensure that they had safe operating guidelines in place. So whether it was a restaurant, an attraction, a hotel, or an event or a venue, everyone was trying to make sure that they were following all the right protocols, both for their employees, as well as for those visitors and guests who came into their establishments. What we've seen happen is that, uh, large events and group meetings have been slower to return from a travel perspective. Individual, uh, leisure travel has certainly held up pretty well, but unfortunately we still see that visitor spending is down. It's down about 40%. And we take a look at employment for San Diego in the leisure and hospitality sector. It too is down compared to pre pandemic levels. It's down by a good 15%, fewer employees.

Speaker 10: (36:08)

What kind of feedback have you gotten so far in the new ad

Speaker 17: (36:11)

Campaign for the new campaign? People really are enjoying the energy, the catchy song and the at beautiful images. We just had it air for the very first time during the farmer's insurance open this weekend. And what we've heard mostly is just, wow, what great timing you've got the farmer's insurance open airing nationally. You have all these eyeballs watching live sports, and then you have this horrible weather conditions that are going on across the country. And here's beautiful San Diego, whether you're watching the golf tournament or you're seeing the TV spots. So, so far the feedback's been very positive.

Speaker 10: (36:46)

Okay. So far so good. I've been speaking with Carrie K pitch chief operating officer for the San Diego tourism authority. Carrie, thank you.

Speaker 17: (36:54)

Thank you. Your hands

Speaker 16: (36:56)

Up, Bishop it so happy. And you know,

Speaker 1: (37:01)

You're listening to KPBS midday edition. I'm Jade Henman with Maureen Kavanaugh, San Diego based I D w publishing is one of the top four publishers of comic books and graphic novels in the us like so many businesses. It has had to make adjustments during the pandemic. Currently its staff is still working remotely, but keeping busy K PBS arts reporter, Beth Amando checks in with its new publisher Nachi marsh who took over in the fall of 2020 in the midst of the pandemic.

Speaker 18: (37:33)

So what have been some of the challenges for I D w during this pandemic, and especially for you coming in, in the midst

Speaker 19: (37:40)

Of it? I think the biggest challenge for IDW has been that comics and graphic novels in generally are very collaborative storytelling environment, whether it's specifically multiple people working on, uh, a single issue of a comic or, or even a, a, a small creative team working on a graphic novel of their own. And that certainly tails into kind of the office culture as well with things. And, and I think the biggest challenge that everyone's been dealing with and that I've been dealing with since I came on board is just trying to figure out how to keep as much of that kind of open and collaborative environment to be able to be as treatable, fostering as possible, and to have life not just kind of turn into a bunch of snippets of like 30 minutes to talk about this 30 minutes to talk about this 30 minutes to talk about this while still, literally having enough structure in the day to do all of that. It is something that we are literally talking about every single month and trying to make sure we can have a decent balance of, but that's certainly not going away, uh, anytime immediately soon.

Speaker 18: (38:38)

Now, one thing that may have helped in a certain way, cuz I know I've, um, I've interviewed some of your predecessors there mm-hmm is there's been this increase in kind of the global contribution of contributors because of the ability to transfer files digitally and not have to be in the same room as whoever it is, is creating your artwork. So did some of that kind of groundwork of those kind of collaborations prove to be really helpful during the pandemic?

Speaker 19: (39:09)

Certainly the ease of being able to have the other side of that coin, where, where you can't all be in the same place, what that means you can actually be anywhere has made it easier for us to continue working with creative talent when, when we're actually talking about getting the comic and graphic novels done, but also it has made it advantageous for us in some places where we could make sure that we weren't kind of turning anyone away because, oh, here's an amazing candidate for a role, but they live in the Pacific Northwest or they live in the greater New York area or anything like that. Obviously we don't know what the future looks like. And I would certainly love for everyone to actually, you know, for me to meet my coworkers in person and all of that. But we are, we are certainly trying to make sure we can take advantage of that. And so it certainly does make a, a slightly easier environment when we're hunting for new talent or just trying to kind of keep the machine running as it was before

Speaker 18: (39:59)

The pandemic, there was a push for digital comics and there there's a lot of comics that are available, uh, online. So during this pandemic, has there been a greater, uh, push towards digital or just, uh, more interest in what the possibilities are? Um, what kind of conversations have you had about that?

Speaker 19: (40:17)

It hasn't been a push in the ways that I think a lot of people were initially expecting in terms of just kind of boiling it all down to press tax. Like if you're not going into places and you want to read comics, how are you going to do that? Obviously having digital distribution for all of our stories is very helpful, but I think that a lot of companies that deal with physical media have found through the course of the pandemic, that a lot of people are developing even more of an affinity for being able to have books that they can hold, have objects that they can hold. And to be able to kind of like ly focus on the thing that they are reading that said, will you have definitely seen that, especially on the, the library side that as library closures have had to happen off and on throughout the course of the pandemic that we've seen a increase in business from digital library services, which is also fantastic. There are a lot of great companies out there that are doing really good work to make sure that people who are who's kind of lifeline for reading in general, be acknowledged entertainment, whatever it be are through the libraries can continue to have that lifeline in as many ways as humanly possible. So, yeah, I've been excited to see that happen over the course of time.

Speaker 18: (41:27)

So we are now poised on the beginning of a new year, 2022. What are you looking forward to this year or concerns or what kind of is your crystal ball for 2022?

Speaker 19: (41:40)

Um, the fact that if you had asked me this question, like 14 days ago, I feel like I would've had a different answer lies how complicated 2022 is going to be. It really is the kind of, for us normalization of what it at certain times seemed kind of like a chaotic environment. And now is kind of like Tuesday when, when we're dealing with things where we are making the best plans humanly possible, but then understanding that when we come into work, come into work, when we turn on computers in the morning or whatever that we have to do a 180 and pivot and say, where we planning on going to the show, does that show still exist? What are we doing instead? Or are we planning on trying to do in-person events with an author about X, Y, or Z? Are they allowed to, and, or do they want to, what do we do instead? You know, we really wanna make sure that we are in a place where we can not just be scrubbing things, but being able to give alternates and all and, and options for both our talent and our fans. For me, I'm really excited about the evolution of the ways that readers and fans interact with the comics industry in general, the evolution of the kind of convention space and then the fan interaction space within conventions, um, over the course of the pandemic, something that's been really exciting for me to see. And

Speaker 18: (42:58)

Can I ask if you have a memory of what kind of hooked you into comics?

Speaker 19: (43:04)

I do. I grew up on the upper west side of Manhattan and there was a, a comic shop, not too far from where I, I lived as a kid. We moved around a lot, but there was a kind of like a, a place that ended up being kind of equidistant to various kind of chaotic bouncing around that, that we were doing. It was a, a small shop, but the sort of place where like when an 11 year old came in and was like, I saw this thing on TV and it's, it sounds like there are comics that have giant robots in them and da, da, da, da, da, that, you know, instead of like looking down there and knows, and only talking to cool people about cool things, they're like, oh, you should spend your couple of dollars that you have on these robot tech comics or like, oh, that thing that those people are talking about is like 20 years of Xmen continuity.

Speaker 19: (43:47)

You don't have the money for that, but like, here's this classic issue of whatever that references the things that were being talked about. And it was less a single issue. Although there are certainly things that kind of stand out in time for, for me, and more just the idea of like being able to go to a place. I was not a kid to like talk to strangers in bookstores about the things that they were into or anything like that. But being able to just kind of like almost go to a place where you could be around people who wanted to be like that and be like, I guess I could ask a question. And then like four weeks later, like build up the kind of guts to ask a question and come out with a couple cool comics from it. That is what really hooked me because there's always something new coming out that, you know, the, the idea of being able to go someplace every single week and, and be able to, you know, get something new, then be able to get the follow up to whatever, you know, cliff hanger was kind of, um, stringing me along in the best way possible at the time that really made me love the kind of serialized storytelling version of things.

Speaker 19: (44:45)

And then it just kind of grew and blossomed over time. I wanna thank you

Speaker 18: (44:49)

Very much for talking to about ID w making it through this pandemic.

Speaker 19: (44:54)

No, my pleasure. Thank you for the time. And for reaching out

Speaker 1: (44:57)

That was Beth ado, speaking with ID W's new publisher and marsh.

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San Diego marks a new COVID-19 case milestone today, as the county is set to surpass 700,000 cases since the pandemic began. Then, a San Diego State University dean made comments on twitter about conservatives and was thrust into a national debate on academic free speech. And, the old English game of squash is giving students at a charter school in Southeast San Diego new opportunities academically and athletically. Next, San Diego County is home to 42 school districts. One, San Diego Unified has more than 100,000 students but several others serve fewer than 1,000 students, resulting in wide disparities in per-pupil funding. Plus, the San Diego Tourism Authority hopes a new ad which markets San Diego as a happy place will bring more visitors to the city. Finally, San Diego-based IDW Publishing is one of the top four publishers of comic books and graphic novels in the U.S. and like so many businesses it had to make adjustments during the pandemic.