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Q&A: COVID expert on worse-than-expected winter surge

 December 7, 2022 at 4:31 PM PST

S1: Another winter COVID surge may have begun.

S2: The wave is already in its early stage , looking worse than anticipated.

S1: I'm Maureen CAVANAUGH with Meg Perez. This is KPBS midday edition. The city Council votes on a plan that could transform Mira mesa.

S3: Developers would get incentives to break up these sort of car centric super blocks that are so car focused and so bad for pedestrians. And if you cut streets through some of these giant super blocks , they become more residentially friendly.

S1: North Park businesses prepare to pay a new tax and a veteran. Warwick's book buyer explains why she devoted her career to the love of books. That's ahead on Midday Edition. Holiday shoppers and party goers are celebrating this year , moving about and socializing freely without pandemic restrictions. And that could be a very bad thing. Health officials say the number of COVID cases and hospitalizations are rising dramatically across the nation. Los Angeles has seen cases triple since early November. And here in San Diego , hospitalization rates are on the rise. How deadly will this surge be and what can we do to protect ourselves and our loved ones over the holidays ? Dr. Eric Topol is here to help us figure that out. Dr. Topol is director of the Scripps Research Translational Institute in La Hoya. And , Dr. Topol , welcome to the program.

S2: Thanks , Mary. Now.

S4: Now.


S2: But right now , what we're seeing , as you mentioned , Maureen , in L.A. , but also throughout the country , is that the wave is already in its early stage , looking worse than anticipated. So this really reflects immunity waning. That is , the boosters and even our infections , that immunity we have from that is not holding up as well. We need to get boosters that are more recent within the last 4 to 6 months. And also , we , of course , are not using mask in mitigation. So a lot of things we could do right now to help prevent impede this wave. New York State is the bellwether right now because they have the most of this new variant , BQ 1.1 and also another worrisome variant just behind that cold xwb. And things are looking bad there. There are worst hospitalizations for COVID in the past ten , almost 11 months.

S1: I want to talk about a little bit more about immunity , as you mentioned. The numbers show that most of them , in fact , more than 90% of Americans have already had COVID.

S2: 90 some percent of had COVID because there are other recent assessments that are using actual antibody testing , not models. And those numbers are considerably less. You know , in the seventies and eighties. I still think there are a lot of people that haven't had COVID that are vulnerable. But also , you know , even with the vaccines and boosters , the problem is , is that when al-Muqrin came along a year ago , that put a whole different look about the durability of vaccines and susceptibility to infection. So even though boosters really are essential for preventing hospitalizations and deaths , they're not holding up much with respect to infection or for very long. That's why the masks are all we have to really rely on and high quality masks , and we're not doing that very well. So we have some tools here boosters , masks , other mitigation measures. And fortunately , we're in a better climate where we don't have as much forced indoor gatherings. You know , we don't have the cold and low humidity issues that a lot of the other parts of the country are confronting. So we should be doing better. But it also means embracing the tools that we have.

S1: Tell us more about the new dominant strain out there. BQ 1.1. Right.

S2: Right. So now we've lost all our monoclonal antibodies. So , Deb , tell them that to level MAB. And also if you show the combination antibody that worked very well for immunocompromised , they no longer work because this variant has so many new mutations that it basically prevents our our antibody treatments from having an effect. And the way it hurts us is , is our immunity wane from prior infections and vaccines and boosters. And this is a double whammy because our immune system doesn't recognize it well. So the good thing is that the Bivalent booster has effects against this variant , and that's another reason to get it. The Emory study , which may be the best one of all , a lab study showed it had 5 to 10 fold increased antibodies , neutralizing antibodies directed against BQ 1.1. So it's a way that when we Bivalent booster was directed to be a five , but that's already basically faded. But we have the fortune , good fortune. It wasn't known until this became a reality through the testing that we got at least a way to handle to some extent , the new variant. Most of the time we're chasing variants , but this is one time fortuitously , we've gotten a bit ahead. Yeah.

S1: Yeah.

S2: You know , universal coronavirus vaccines are. It's because largely that there's this misperception , illusion that the pandemic is over , and then it just keeps coming back to haunt us. And , you know , just when we get through this wave , then we probably are going to have to deal with. It could be another variant wave in the early part of next year. And we may have we may be Americanized. That is , we may get a PI or a sigma , a whole new family. That's why it's really essential that this country goes after nasal vaccines and and variant proof vaccines with the utmost priority. And unfortunately , we have no congressional governmental support for doing these kinds of things.

S1: You know , you write that we collectively are not taking enough care of the vulnerable members of our communities. You just mentioned that it's still seniors and immunocompromised people who remain at greatest risk.

S2: And so , for example , the boosters , you know , 80% have had a fall booster. In most recent campaign. Our senior rate for boosters 65 and over is one of three 33%. It's pitiful. Not only do we rank 70th in the world for boosters , but even worse for taking care of our elders. And also , we don't mask up with high quality masks , not just for ourselves , but for the sake of our immunocompromised people that are at least 7 million Americans , as well as people who are compromised. Because as we get older , our immune system doesn't work as well , even in response to infections and vaccines. So we helping each other , we're just not doing it. And as so many other countries around the world have shown us , it can be done.

S1: The media has been all over COVID news for the last two years , but this particular surge isn't really making many headlines.

S2: So that's gotten a lot of attention That's appropriate. We also have a lot of RSV for children and all and also people of older age. So part of it is we've got other infections to deal with. But part of it is we're just got profound fatigue with COVID , understandably. But that doesn't mean it's going to go away. You know , we can't rule it away. So the problem we have is we're distracted and this wave is sneaking up pretty quickly and there's very little media attention. You know , today we're just starting to see the beginning of that. But we already started to see this taking off before Thanksgiving , and now it's accelerating.


S2: That is , you've got protection against all three of the prevalent respiratory viruses. The best way we can help reduce flu besides flu shots , RSV , we don't have any vaccine and obviously COVID. So if there ever was a reason to use a high quality mask , it's right now to counter three concurrent respiratory viruses.


S2: For example , why not do the rapid test to make sure that people are not asymptomatic carriers and or pre-symptomatic ? So using rapid tests , trying to get really good ventilation and air quality. So , yeah , a gathering could be indoors. But , you know , we're lucky here in San Diego. Oftentimes we can we have windows open or be outdoors. So there's lots of things we can do to reduce that risk. The hope is that we can do it , and ignoring it or being in denial isn't going to help anything.

S1: I've been speaking with Dr. Eric Topol , director of the Scripps Research Translational Institute in La Hoya. Dr. Topol , thank you again.

S2: Thank you , Maureen. Always great to be with you. And KPBS.

S5: When you think of San Diego's Mira mesa neighborhood , you might think of car dependent strip malls and vast open spaces. But a recently approved blueprint could bring big changes to that neighborhood. A plan approved by the City Council on Monday would aim to nearly double the population of the area , as well as see the development of high rise housing and pedestrian friendly urban villages. Joining me now with more details on this plan is San Diego Union Tribune reporter David Garrett. David , welcome back.

S3: Thanks for having. Me.

S5: Me.


S5: There has been a lot of talk in the past about Mira mesa being a focal point for redevelopment.

S3: And since then , we understand climate change better. We understand that pedestrian friendly neighborhoods are more appealing to residents. And so the shift in sort of people's perception of what is an appealing neighborhood , San Diego adopted a City of Villages strategy about 20 years ago now. And this really fits with this , the revamped US.

S5: So Mayor Mesa , like most neighborhoods in San Diego , are very car dependent.

S3: And if you cut streets through some of these giant super blocks , they become more residentially friendly and the developers would be able to build high rise housing in return for breaking up the super blocks.

S5: So housing , of course , is a big part of this blueprint.

S3: So it's sort of simultaneously fighting climate change and solving the city's housing crisis. You know , San Diego needs to build about 20,000 new units a year , and they've been way below that. This this will help adds 24,000 new units. They won't happen immediately , but over the next 30 years. So Mayor Mesa will be playing sort of a participatory role in the city , meeting its goals over the next 30 years because of this plan.

S5: David , you touched on this a little bit earlier , but there are also plans to develop more park land , bike lanes and other public utilities. Tell us more about this and why Mira mesa is in need of it.

S3: Yeah , well , Bear Mesa was built without enough park space and certainly wasn't built with a lot of bike lanes or recreational amenities. But that's also been sort of a controversial part of this plan because community leaders feel like the things are in the plan , but they're promised but there's no locations and no funding specifically for them. So they hope that they're not just dreams that will never happen. But certainly Mayor Mesa needs them. And the community leaders are strongly lobbying for the city to make sure that those things happen.


S3: You say all this growth is that SANDAG plans to put a new trolley line , the purple line , through Kearny Mesa and through Mira mesa. And it's not going to start running until 2045. But that is sort of part of the long term solution. Having mass transit in terms of which it lacks now would be a huge change. In addition , there are some shuttles planned to the coaster and to the new blue line extension to the La Hoya that exists of the trolley because that's a university city which is near mere Mesa.


S3: This is a good balance between new housing. You'll also have some new jobs. You're going to make it more pedestrian friendly. You're trying to meet climate goals. So city officials are sort of touting this as an innovative plan that has the right balance. Okay.

S5: Okay. There are always two or three or four sides to this.

S3: They say it doesn't do enough to fight climate change. But I would say the loudest critics are neighborhood leaders. The mayor of Mesa Community Planning Group asked for 13 changes to the plan and they got zero of them. Usually when a community group ask for changes , they get some of them. They all 13 were rejected by the city. The city sort of stuck to their guns and said , We need new housing. We need to do it this way. And community leaders wanted a guarantee they would get more parks. They wanted maybe more or less intense increase in housing. But they didn't get their way.

S5: So bringing more people into the neighborhood means adequate infrastructure is needed.

S3: They're worried that they won't get the added infrastructure in an already I mean , Miramar is notorious for traffic congestion. This plan claims it will reduce it. I think a lot of the residents are worried it might worsen it if the infrastructure is not built. There's plans for bridges over streets and there's. Plans for people to take these rapid buses. But will the rapid buses happen ? Will people actually embrace that type of commuting ? That those are unknowns.


S3: What's next is developers have to react to the incentives. And if they do , then some of the things will happen. And I guess , you know , the residents have to start embracing some of the transit and other options that are in the plan.

S5: Well , as they say , it takes a village , so I guess we shall see. I've been speaking with San Diego Union Tribune reporter David Garrett. David , thank you. Thanks.

S3: Thanks.

S1: This is KPBS midday edition. I'm Maureen CAVANAUGH with Meg Perez in for Jade Heineman. As Russia's war on Ukraine continues to rage , KPBS reporter Kitty Alvarado has the story of a North County family torn apart by the war and kept apart by U.S. immigration policy.

S4: Russia's war on Ukraine is personal for Bruce and Ellen. Natalie.

S1: Natalie.

S3: My wife is Russian , and this Russia's unprovoked aggression in Ukraine has disturbed us greatly.

S4: But Elena still has family in Russia. She says they're harassed because they're against the war.

S3: If you talk with people , people call you traitor.

S4: Then Elena's brother , Sergei's for Dare Ski got drafted by the Russian army. She translated his words to us during a Zoom call.

S3: Maybe you just want us to do what we do. So is it news , though ? He said absolutely. That's my decision from day one. That that's just no choice. That's scary , because Russia. I know that the reason we do Ukraine never was a choice.

S1: So he packed a small.

S4: Bag , kissed his mother goodbye , and left the only home he's ever known planning to stay with his sister in America.

S3: Where is one of the rebels ? And we have problems. And I never thought I will be in a situation like this. I never thought I would be escaping.

S4: The journey would be perilous. Just to get to the Russian border took days.

S3: It is all a bit silly , but that's not what I saw. Thank you. So guys who are crossing the borders , they have like faces from stress and shock.

S4: Eventually , he met up with his brother in law , Bruce in Mexico City. Their plan to go to Tijuana to cross the border into the U.S.. Sergei was very nervous.

S3: He really wants to get political asylum in.

S2: The United States , because if he doesn't get political asylum , he's in big trouble.

S3: He doesn't have a future in Russia.

S4: Bruce recorded their journey on his cell phone.

S2: Okay , I'm here with Sergei.

S3: He's about ready to go across the border and go to the border and.

S5: Apply for political. Asylum.

S3: Asylum. But he.

S4: Says they were stopped by the U.S. Border Patrol before they could even reach the.

S3: Border and immediately put a traffic cone in front of the car. The Border Patrol officer came over and asked for our documents. I handed our passports over.

S4: He says they explained their situation to a supervisor.

S3: He told me that it was.

S2: Impossible to apply.

S3: At the border for political asylum. And this was a surprise to me.

S4: Their experience is not a surprise to immigration attorney Lola SARAFA.

S1: Who specializes.

S4: In civil rights and Russian immigration cases. She says she never advises clients to present themselves at the southern border. Because of Title 42 , a Trump era rule that prevents people from seeking asylum at the southern border.

S3: And you hear the stories of cartels controlling access to the border. People sometimes have to pay money to have peyote to be taken to the border. So it's kind of a last resort. But people choose to present themselves at the border despite all the.

S1: Dangers , which.

S3: I think speaks for how desperate they are.

S4: Title 42 is set to be repealed on December 21st. But Sergei has already left Tijuana because of a call from his mother saying she was having stroke symptoms.

S3: This really upset Sagay. He said , I'm killing my mother. I've come here.

S2: I've been treated just the way I would be treated by Russia.

S3: And he decided against my better judgment , he was going to leave.

S4: Sagay can't go back to Russia , though.

S3: The arrest warrant has been issued against him. We're in a very , very difficult situation.

S4: He's now in Central Asia. More than a month has gone by and the tallies are now worried about Sagay and his mental state.

S3: He's depressed. He's upset. He doesn't know what to do next.

S4: Elena says when she speaks with her brother , now , he talks about may be going back to Russia , even if it means arrest. It's horrifying for them.

S3: Thinking that he cannot. She still can be in the war. He still can be in the danger just.

S4: Because nobody would give him a chance. Now she just wants someone to help put the pieces of her family back together. Kitty Alvarado , KPBS News.

S5: Most commercial and residential property owners in North Park belong to a business district that pays for upkeep of the high traffic neighborhood. Starting next month , they will pay an extra tax. Among other things , the new tax money raised will be used to pay for landscaping , sanitation , cleanup and hiring private security. While a 60% majority of business district members voted to raise their own taxes , the rest did not. Here to tell us more is a new source. Reporter Crystal niblock. Crystal , welcome to the program.

S4: Thank you for having me.

S5: So property owners taxing themselves , that's unusual.

S4: Then what this city already provides by default in maintenance and enhancement. These are services that pay for enhancements to help improve business in the area , but it also provides perks for residential homes nearby , keeping the streets clean. Things like that.

S5: To be clear , the property owners had already been paying additional taxes.

S4: And that expiring tax is going to end by December 31st. So this new tax is going to essentially take the old tax place.

S5: This makes North Park different from other popular San Diego business districts like La Hoya and Hillcrest , right ? Yeah.

S4: It has property owners taxing themselves three times , comparing that to other communities in the city. They're the only ones who do that. There's other areas such as Hillcrest and La Hoya that do tax themselves twice , but having a third tax on themselves is , is that award goes to North Park.


S4: And that's just the money that's going to be collected from them. And most of it's going to be used on sanitation. And sanitation is an umbrella term for cleanups. Think of things like power washing the streets , graffiti removal , taking out trash , cleaning up litter gutters , things like that. And the majority of the funding is going to be used on that , as well as other things like contracting private security firms on an as needed basis , landscaping , things like that.

S5: While the majority of property owners approved the new taxes , 40% said no. Tell us about them.

S4: So some property owners are upset that they already pay for these services with the other taxes that they pay. So this is going to be the third one replacing one that's already existing. Right. And the other two are supposed to be paying for services that go above and beyond what the city already provides. So one property owner that I spoke to , she was very upset about getting a public notice that she's going to be paying this new tax and the one that she's paying right now for the one that's expiring. It's 180 for her. And with this new tax , it's going to be 230. So that's a big jump. We punched the numbers and we calculated that there's going to be about average of 29% increase between the old tax that's expiring and the new one that's replacing it. So , you know , she people people like this property owner that I spoke to. She she owns a condo. They're upset.


S4: They think that it's going to do a lot of good for the businesses there , keeping them safe , clean post signage , holiday decorations , all that stuff to kind of inviting people to the area to to shop and to , you know , frequent the bars , things like that. Proponents want to continue to have this level of upkeep in that area to maintain the beauty of North Park in that area. So that's what I found in my reporting.

S5: Well , that's certainly something to look forward to for all of us who do enjoy the businesses , restaurants and all the hot spots in North Park. I've been speaking with my new sauce. Reporter Krystal Niblock. Thank you for being with us.

S4: Thank you for having me.

S5: I knew Source is an independently funded nonprofit partner of KPBS and.

S1: Since Elon Musk bought Twitter , we've heard many , many stories about upheaval in the company. Thousands of employees have been fired. Advertisers have abandoned the platform , as have hundreds of high profile tweeters. At this point , it's not clear if Musk's $44 billion Twitter purchase will be able to make a go of it in the long run. But the buyout has gotten a lot of people thinking about whether the world's social media platforms should remain in the hands of just a few billionaires. One of the people pondering that question is Nikki Usher , associate professor of communications at the University of San Diego. They published an opinion piece on Slate called The Internet Is Having Its Mid-life Crisis. Nikki Usher joins me now. And welcome to the program.

S4: Thanks so much for having me.

S1: Why the Internet having a midlife crisis ? Many people think it's Elon Musk who's having a midlife crisis.

S4: Well , I mean , it's part and parcel because the Internet's about as old as many people in midlife crisis mode , depending on where you count. But I think the Internet has been commercial as we know it since 1992 , but it's been around since like the late fifties , depending on where you count. And so I think we've got like a good midlife crisis range point. And I think we see it we've seen the starting point in 2016 and now 2020. And here we are with one person owning a major communication platform. So I would say I would say it's like one of many reckoning moments for the Internet. But I think a really important one.


S4: I mean , at least Facebook is publicly traded , even though Mark Zuckerberg is who we imagine owning it. Right. He's still accountable to shareholders. And I think the scary thing about Twitter is one person is now running the show. The company is now a private company. But activist groups around the world turn to Twitter to help raise attention to their causes and organize. And that doesn't sit well , not just with me , but with many other people who think about this stuff.


S4: So you might think a little bit about what happened in Texas when the power grid fell apart. Imagine what happens when the Internet falls apart , even for a stoppage in a single platform like Slack , which is used for workplace communications , can literally set companies off the rails because they can't communicate and do their business anymore. And so Twitter has become one of a number of tech platforms that are the bedrock of our contemporary communication infrastructure.

S1: In your article , you put forth a vision for Twitter as a public private partnership. Tell us about that.

S4: So many people who are in the Internet policy space tend to have these broad public visions of , you know , the government will take care of it and government for the people , by the people. And I am a deep , deep cynic and a capitalist , to be quite honest. And so I'm trying to think of a way that it's sellable to imagine the Internet as belonging to all of us , but also very American. And I think the way to imagine that is through a public private partnership. We see this with stadiums , right , where , you know , Snapdragon Stadium is also SDSU. There are lots of examples of the government and industry working together. And this used to be the case with a lot of pre-digital communication technology from the telegraph to broadcast television. It's just it didn't happen for some reason in the same way with the Internet or with these specific platforms.


S4: I really do believe that information is a human right and the Internet is the way that people get this information , among many others. And so I think it really has to be a bottom up conversation where people genuinely recognize that this is something that belongs to all of us. And it needs to be treated with that kind of respect , maybe like water or natural gas or something else like that.

S1: In your article , you also point to the sites Wikipedia , the Internet Archive , the Mozilla Foundation , as examples where nonprofits have entered the scene and regulated the input into that website.

S4: There are these huge global platforms that have different regulatory frameworks in every single country that they enter. And so for us , it might very well be a public private partnership , but for the UK , maybe the BBC starts to own Twitter. So it could look a little bit different depending on the country. My hope would be that if Twitter were more publicly owned and the administration of that was through nonprofits , that it would be an arm's length kind of approach. And I think that that's something that all non-commercial organizations struggle with , accountability to donors , accountability to philanthropy. But there's something instantly , when you say that you're doing something in the public interest , it's really different than saying you're doing something for profit. And I think that since the Internet is something that belongs to the public , that should be the guiding ethos.

S1: It seems like all the alternatives have drawbacks and that Twitter account to stay messy no matter what.

S4: You know , I think Mastodon is a really which is one of these platforms that people have proposed as a potential alternative to Twitter. It's it's tries to be very heavy handed in its self-regulation of speech. And it's maddening. And so , you know , you're sort of in this situation where you're damned if you do , damned if you don't , because the way that humans communicate is messy. And so if we want to have a platform that reflects the best and worst of humanity , it's going to be messy. And we need to have the space for that.

S1: What about people who say that said , I'm finished with social media ? It's increased a lot of harmful things for society , political polarization , conspiracy theories , the sale of personal data. And it's also an unhealthy obsession for a lot of people. Let's just watch it die.

S4: This is what we have we talk about for an entire semester in my class because it's just hard to even wrap your head around the role that big technology plays in all of our lives. But I think it would be healthy for everyone to be much more conscious about when , why and how they're using these technologies in their lives. And when something is free to understand , it's not really free. So I don't think you can live a life absent of any form of social media or big tech. But I do think you can live a more conscious life.

S1: Fair enough. I've been speaking with Nikki Usher , associate professor of communications at the University of San Diego. Thank you so much for speaking with us.

S4: Thanks for having me.

S5: This is KPBS midday edition. I'm M.G. Peres with Maureen CAVANAUGH. In the 1980s , it was shopping malls that drew people away from local independent bookstores around town. Then there were giant box superstores , and of course , along came Amazon. But Warwick Bookstore in La Hoya lives on encouraging literacy for all ages. War Wicks head book buyer Adrian Newell is at the end of a wild ride 34 year career , witnessing the rise and fall of borders and the age of e-books. Welcome , Adrian , and congratulations on your retirement.

S3: Thank you very much. Pleasure to be here with you.

S5: So you had been with War Wicks for 34 years , but your career as a book buyer started even before that. Have you always been a bit of a bookworm ? Absolutely.

S3: I'm a lifelong reader. I grew up without TV. So the form of entertainment was reading. And I had parents who really encouraged it , although they had very specific thoughts about what were good books and bad books. So I wasn't allowed to read Hemingway or Steinbeck , you know , people like that. But I definitely grew up on all the classics.

S5: A good book can be so subjective.

S3: You really have to have that sort of drive to find out about things that you don't know anything about , and also an understanding of the community that you're purchasing books for. But I , I think for me , the biggest factor has been curiosity.

S5: If I did my math correctly , Ronald Reagan was president when you started working for war , which that has been a while. Why did you.

S3: Stay ? I stayed because I love the environment. I had actually started in the book industry in 1978. I worked for a chain , Waldenbooks , and I worked for them for about four and a half years. And then I went to Aztec shops and was assistant to the trade book buyer for approximately five years. And my first , the woman who hired me at Waldenbooks left after about , I want to say , maybe eight months to become the buyer at Worswick. And we stayed in touch. And I finally said to her one day , I think I'm ready to come work for you. Do you still want me ? And I was hired to work two days a week. We were right in the middle of a remodel , and I just remember going home every day and being grateful to be in a place that really had that sort of family feeling. You know , the small business component that you don't get when you're working for a big corporation or a big university. And I remember my mentor , Barbara Christman , who was also the head buyer at work. She would thank me every day for doing my job. And that was such a novel thing for me that I just I stayed. And I love being in an environment where we had a lot of independence and autonomy and we had , you know , wonderful interactions with customers. And I didn't really see any reason to leave.

S5: Your time as a book buyer coincided with a tough time for the publishing industry.

S3: You basically had to know what was in the store. This was even the case when I was at Waldenbooks. We had these big volumes called Books in print , and they were alpha by title , author or subject. And , you know , we would also have microfiche that we would use and that would be updated every week. So we've gone from that to being almost an entirely digital industry. Now , all of the catalogs , instead of being print catalogs , everything's on pretty much online now. So I think , you know , it's been the whole arc of going from very old school , very low tech. A lot of the information had to be in your head to , you know , just being able to Google a couple of keywords and , you know , the whole what's available just is at your fingertips.

S5: Warwick said a close call not too long ago when the building was being sold , but the community really rallied to save it.

S3: And I think I always like to say it's a very symbiotic relationship and that we endure and survive and thrive because of the community's support. But I also think that the community gains a lot from what we bring in terms of culture , you know , through our book signings and events that we've either hosted or partnered with other community organizations on. I think you can't take away one component. But it was really wonderful. To see how the community you could tell that they valued what we brought to the community.


S3: I think it was a threat to any brick and mortar business , but also specifically small business. But it's interesting in that I think a lot of independent businesses , not just bookstores , came out of that thriving. And to me , that was the the ray of sunshine behind , you know , through very , very difficult years and that the support for independent business is very strong , much stronger than it was going in. And I think people consumers began to understand the importance of supporting their local restaurants , their local coffee shop , all of those local businesses that really helped create vibrant communities. And when Amazon stopped shipping books for a little bit or D prioritizing them , we were one of the only places in town where you could go and get a book because , you know , the chains weren't really operating at the time and it was very difficult. But the community rallied and supported us and ordered online and we shipped out a lot of things and did curbside and and just our ability to to be able to make that pivot very quickly without having to go through a lot of , you know , red tape or any kind of corporate regulations , I think was also a big benefit.

S5: From the comfort of your retirement.

S3: We have championed many causes over the years , particularly free speech issues and censorship issues. I do see a future for independent businesses. But , you know , things can change very quickly. So that I like to remain optimistic about that. I do think that readers and communities recognize the value that we bring.


S3: So it just a lot of it depends on what I'm in the mood for. I love Steinbeck. He's always been a favorite author , Edith Wharton. I do love classics. It would be really difficult for me to pinpoint a favorite book. And I always love a great thriller. So I'm pretty much game to read just about anything. The only thing I tend to steer away from are lengthy biographies. I just I have to say , I don't have that much interest in reading , you know , 500 to 1000 pages about any one person. But I would be hard pressed to actually name a favorite book.

S5: All righty , then. I have been speaking with Adrian Newell , who for the last 34 years has been the head book buyer for Warwick Bookstore in La Hoya. And , Adrian , thanks so much for talking with us today and best wishes on your retirement.

S3: Thank you so much. It was a pleasure.

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