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San Diego’s emergency rooms continue to be strained

 January 20, 2022 at 4:19 PM PST

Speaker 1: (00:00)

Navigating hospital shortages, amid case

Speaker 2: (00:03)

Surges. It's not just as simple as the, the healthcare workers themselves, but you know, their entire family as

Speaker 1: (00:09)

Well. I'm Jade Henman with Kavanaugh. This is K PBS midday edition A proposal to use conservatorship to help some people who are homeless,

Speaker 3: (00:29)

Unless there are adequate services to meet the needs of the conservative. There isn't an awful lot of point in doing it.

Speaker 1: (00:36)

The California children's now report card is sounding the alarm for youth across this state. And we'll hear a little blue grass from a local banjo artist that's ahead on midday edition. Even as hospital across the region, struggle with a huge swell in patients. Signs are emerging that staffing shortages are beginning to improve and while hospitalization rates have not yet reached the highs of last winter, the ongoing crush of patients is testing the resources of San Diego's emergency departments. Joining me now with more is San Diego in Tribune health reporter Paul Sissen.

Speaker 2: (01:24)

Paul. Welcome. Thanks so much for having me. So what's the

Speaker 1: (01:27)

Latest with hospitalizations across the county. We're

Speaker 2: (01:30)

Up to just a little over 1300 in the weekly report that comes out every Wednesday from the county. That's still, uh, you know, significantly below the Heights that we saw last year. I think the number got up just over 1800, uh, uh, when it was at its worst. Uh, last January, you know, this is interesting because, uh, last week, uh, we had some forecasting and projections from a, a really good researcher at U C S D. And that research indicated that it might go higher than it did last year. That just the massive, larger number of infections that we've seen in the last couple weeks would produce a larger number, even though the, the hospitalization rate is much lower than it was with Aron. I guess the, uh, the idea was that because the denominator is so much larger, the enumerator would eventually end up exceeding last year. So, so that didn't happen this week. That's really good news for hospitals and, uh, you know, it kind of remains to be seen whether that will still be the case over the next week or so, you know, it can off and take a couple weeks for somebody who gets infected to get ill enough to need a hospital bed. So some of that, that illness might just, uh, be waiting in the wings to progress to the point where those folks come forward. Nobody really knows for sure.

Speaker 1: (02:36)

Let's talk a bit more about that, you know, case numbers this month are the highest they've ever been, but hospitalization still haven't reached their peak. Uh, can you tell us more about that?

Speaker 2: (02:44)

Yeah. You know, it seems to be down to the severity, uh, of illness and the Aron variant causes. Uh, you know, we we've seen in South Africa where it first appeared and researched it's come out of many different countries. That Aron seems to produce less severe illness, uh, in people than the Delta variant and its predecessors did. And that, that seems to be playing out in the real world here and pretty much everywhere in the United States. So it's possible, uh, like we said, to have a much larger number of infections of people actually getting infected, but fewer of them having very severe I illness

Speaker 1: (03:19)

Worker shortages and hospitals have been an ongoing concern in this surge. Is that situation improving?

Speaker 2: (03:25)

Yeah, it sounds like it is. We're several weeks into this now. Uh, you know, if you think back to, you know, a lot of these exposures happening, you know, on Christmas or shortly before Christmas or in the week after Christmas, uh, so, you know, they're, they're keeping healthcare workers who test home for five to seven days. Each health group in town seems to handle it slightly differently, but it seems like, uh, most of them are running a, uh, a negative test, uh, before they let employees come back to work. And so, you know, now it's starting to feel, and what folks were saying is that, uh, you know, enough time has now passed that many of those in that first wave who called in sick and had to go, uh, into, uh, isolation for five to seven days are, are now, you know, far enough long that they're testing negative and, and starting to kind of filter back into their jobs.

Speaker 2: (04:09)

So that's reducing the overall percentage of healthcare workers that are, that are out sick. You know, one, one caveat there, from what I'm told is, uh, you know, the fact that these healthcare workers, uh, you know, they have family and, and loved ones. And so even if they themselves have gotten better, they may have a child at home who they need to stay home with, who, who is still, uh, positive and UN unable to go to school. So, you know, it's not just as simple as the, the healthcare workers themselves, but you know, their entire families as well.

Speaker 1: (04:35)

Now, earlier this week, you reported that two south bay hospitals reported internal, uh, at their facilities. What exactly does that mean? Yeah,

Speaker 2: (04:44)

That's kinda a new term for me as a healthcare reporter. I, I wasn't super familiar with the term. I guess some hospitals, uh, up in Los Angeles county ended up, uh, declaring internal disasters. Uh, last year when there was a massive oxygen shortage, uh, when so many people were having severe COVID at the same time, a, uh, all required bottled oxygen all at once. From what I understand that this term of art, it really means that a hospital is no longer confident that it can deliver the level of care, uh, that it would expect to protect, uh, health and safety more practically. What it means is that they stop taking all ambulance deliveries generally, uh, you know, we've us before this idea of a hospital using what they call diversion to kind of reduce the number of, uh, ambulance transports that arrive at their busy, uh, emergency department, uh, in those cases where, you know, the traditional diversion system, from what I'm told the idea is that when you declare an internal disaster, they shut down all ambulance traffic, uh, including severe cases like people having strokes and heart attacks, generally, they would still let all of those, uh, kind of super, uh, serious and immediate cases come through and, and still see them, uh, in a normal case of diversion.

Speaker 2: (05:54)

But when they declare disaster, they're saying we're just so jammed up that we can't possibly take another one. So it's a serious situation because if you have a couple of facilities, declare this disaster status at the same time, it can become a situation where you have ambulance drivers driving around town with critical patients, looking for somewhere to deliver a patient. So, you know, it's a situation where you, you don't want too many of those dominoes fall all in a row. It sounds like the county's EMS coordination service was able to help the local hospitals work through that. You know, they have the broad view of what's happening in every ER across the county in a pretty real time view of who's being admitted where, and so they can kind of coordinate and direct patients to other hospitals and tell the ambulances where to go. They could kind of be a traffic controller in that way. So sounds like that system really got put to the test. We don't have a lot of details on exactly all the nitty gritty of how it all went down, but it sounds like there, there's a really interesting, uh, story to be told there.

Speaker 1: (06:49)

And we're all still advised to be cautious for at least another few more weeks. I've been speaking with San Diego union Tribune health reporter, Paul Sien, Paul, thank you so much for joining us. Thanks for

Speaker 2: (07:01)

Having me

Speaker 1: (07:10)

Both governor Newsom and mayor Todd Gloria have named homelessness as one of the state's major challenges, Newsom proposed another two B for homeless services in his new budget. And in his state of the city address, mayor Gloria pledged to increase the number of shelter beds and supportive housing, but there was also something new in both proposals. The idea of updating California's conservatorship laws. Here's how mayor Gloria put it.

Speaker 4: (07:37)

But the fact, the current state law on conservatorship is too restrictive. So this year I'm pushing for state action on conservatorships so that people who cannot help themselves aren't left vulnerable to the dangers of life on the streets.

Speaker 1: (07:55)

A conservatorship could allow a court to determine that a person is too in or incapacitated to make decisions for themselves, and then be placed in a care facility. Even if it's against their will. It would be a big step for lawmakers to take and here to help explain more about conservatorships as Dr. Michael popper, a psychiatrist with sharp Mesa Vista hospital, formerly chief medical officer of the hospital, and Dr. Popper, welcome to the program.

Speaker 3: (08:23)

Nice to be here.

Speaker 1: (08:24)

What kind of role do you think conservatorships might play in helping the state's homeless population?

Speaker 3: (08:30)

They can play a very significant role, depending on the extent to which we utilize the current law. This law's been an effect for 50 years in Cal and an actual fact it's, it's been pretty effective in terms of being able to get people into treatment and to some extent, to keep them in treatment. However, what we are experiencing is different ways and different counties within California, that this law is implemented. There, there really isn't a standardization throughout California in terms of the implementation of the conservator's laws counties, very widely in terms of how it's implemented and what the services are that support conservative. Are

Speaker 1: (09:15)

We talking about members of the homeless population with severe mental illness? Would they be subjects potentially of conservatorships

Speaker 3: (09:24)

Potentially? Yes, that, that really is the population we're talking about here. For the most part, these are people who in the recent years have fallen through the cracks who, whose needs have not been at, by available services, either due to their own reluctance to avail themselves with those services or the fact that they just aren't there. One of the major issues we face is housing for people with severe mental illness and especially housing that provides supportive services. It's sort of a missing P piece in this entire conversation. And unless we do that, we can change the laws all we want, but we really aren't going to affect outcomes unless we provide adequate housing and services for people in the community.

Speaker 1: (10:10)

I wanna talk to you specifically a little bit more about that, but I wanna hone in on this word and how people are, are understanding it. I think many people last heard about conservatorships in reference to Brit Spears and her father, her father taking over her finances. Are there different types of conservatorships?

Speaker 3: (10:29)

Yes, there are two general types. And in her instance it was a probate conservator of her person and a state aid. And her father, I believe was the conservator and lots of conflict there. What we're talking about is the other type of conservatorship, which is the LPs conservatorship it's specific to providing services and support to people with severe mental illness.

Speaker 1: (10:55)

What do you think of the mayor's belief that current conservatorship laws are too restrictive?

Speaker 3: (11:01)

There is a movement to broaden the criteria. Currently the criteria for LPs conservatorship is relative to grave disability that is specific to the inability to provide food, clothing, or shelter for oneself as a result of a mental illness. It doesn't include many other forms of manifestations of mental illness, which cause a person to not take care of themselves adequately. And so what they're looking at is broadening the criteria to include criteria more like that, which could be helpful. But again, unless there are adequate services to meet the needs of the conservate, there, isn't an awful lot of point in doing it

Speaker 1: (11:45)

As you and other people have pointed out San Diego and California really don't have a lot of places to put incapacitated people who might be the subjects of conservatorships would new facilities have to be built,

Speaker 3: (11:59)

New facilities should be built. They really should be in tandem. We really should be approaching this population in the most humane way, in the most supportive way. And as it is, we really aren't. We really are failing this population and you can see it in Los Angeles and San Diego, especially in terms of the outcomes of failed policies. And that is too many people with severe mental illness and substance abuse on the streets. Uh, not able to access services because they don't exist. And because we don't get them to those services in an effective way. So

Speaker 1: (12:34)

Do you trust lawmakers in Sacramento and the San Diego city attorney's office to get this right?

Speaker 3: (12:40)

There are multiple parties that are responsible. One is the city and that's great, but the city has a specific kind of role relative to the development of new types of buildings and those types of things. The county on the other hand provides the safety net for the severely mentally ill. There are multiple responsible parties and the best way to approach it is through coordination of those approaches. For example, between the city and the county, and as, uh, mayor Gloria is referring to influencing the state legislature through city mayors and, and, and other influences.

Speaker 1: (13:16)

Let me just ask you this. Do you see any dangers in moving forward with using conservatorships to get homeless people off the streets?

Speaker 3: (13:24)

Well, there is the issue relative to civil liberties. I mean, we have to always weigh the interventions we create, uh, with whether or not they unduly interfere with a person of civil liberties. The, so that has to be part of the equation. And I think that is very much part of the equation in San Diego county. We have very much aired on the side of civil liberties over the last 20 or 30 years as new policies have been implemented to some extent, to the exclusion of better services for the county. And so we have to weigh these things, but we have to be rational as we weigh these things. So that's, that really is sort of the, uh, kind of the downside as you look at it is, is making sure that people civil liberties are respected and that there's a judicial process available to people on conservatorship.

Speaker 1: (14:17)

I've been speaking with psychiatrist, Dr. Michael popper and Dr. PLO. Thank you so much.

Speaker 3: (14:22)

Thank you very much.

Speaker 1: (14:35)

This is K PBS midday edition. I'm Maureen Kavanaugh with Jade Henman California. Regulators are holding off on considering a proposal that would upend the state's solar marketplace K PBS environment reporter Eric Anderson says the delay likely means changes to the controversial plans that are in the works.

Speaker 3: (14:56)

The California public utilities commission delivered grim news for the state's solar installers last

Speaker 5: (15:02)

Month. It's it's so bad.

Speaker 3: (15:04)

Bernadette Del KIRO is the executive director of the California solar in storage association.

Speaker 5: (15:10)

We think proposed decision, the bones of it are so rotten, uh, that it will not

Speaker 3: (15:14)

Hold the public agency recommended slashing how much homeowners are paid for electricity generated by their rooftop solar panels. And it proposed a steep increase in grid access charges for a typical solar customer about $60 a month. The plan essentially negates the financial incentives for homeowners to pay thousands of dollars to add solar panels to their roofs. Solar industry advocates say that changes could dry up demand for the green energy option and throw thousands of solar installers out of work. And that got solar workers to a rally in Los Angeles law week. The message was aimed at the CPU C's satellite office in LA, the solar workers like revamp energy's owner. Jay cutting says his brown and black workers need the support of commissioners.

Speaker 6: (16:07)

And we would hate to see all the hard work and, and progress we've made aid been killed by this, by this bill and this solar tax. So we came to show our support and say, save our jobs.

Speaker 3: (16:20)

But the commission isn't the only target solar industry backers have worked hard to get the attention of governor Gavin Newsom and hints that their campaign is working came when Newsom answered questions and about the proposal during the unveiling of his proposed budget earlier this month,

Speaker 7: (16:37)

That draft plan that was recently released. I just had a chance to review. And I'll say this about the plan. We still have

Speaker 3: (16:43)

Some work to do I wanna ask again later during the event, Newsom was vague, but did suggest the proposal would not survive in its current form. Do I think,

Speaker 7: (16:52)

Uh, that change just need to be

Speaker 3: (16:53)

Made? Yes, I do. A recent development suggests change might be coming. The CPU C failed to put the item on its January 27th agenda after planning a vote for more than a year. It is unclear if the issue is just being pushed back a couple of weeks or longer,

Speaker 5: (17:09)

There's no question. The commission needs more time on this

Speaker 3: (17:12)

Solar Indi tree backer Bernadette Del Kiara is not ready to call the delay of victory, especially with the commission in flu. The CPU C president has only been in office since the beginning of the year. And another of the panels, five seats remain unfilled.

Speaker 5: (17:28)

It is unprecedented. The shake up of the, the leadership of this commission, right at the five yard line of one of the biggest decisions they will have made this decade. So there's no question they need more time. And I think the governor recognized that and referenced that as well,

Speaker 3: (17:42)

San Diego gas and electric has remained quiet on the issue. Since early last year, the utility called the process sensitive and told KPBS they would not be commenting until after regulators make their decision. But utility back groups continue to run ads on social media. A

Speaker 8: (17:59)

Flaw in state law is forcing Californians who can't afford rooftop, solar to subsidize welfare homeowners who can seniors

Speaker 3: (18:06)

And families struggle. And they have surrogates making their case. Cathy fair banks runs the utility funded group, affordable energy for all it's unfair.

Speaker 9: (18:16)

And you know, we understand why the solar industry is objecting to these reforms. It means cuts to their profits. It means cuts to executive salaries and bonuses. It means cuts in their shareholders.

Speaker 3: (18:32)

Meanwhile, solar industry backers say it is utilities that are motivated by greed. Regulators will make the final decision. They've changed the solar market once before making only minor tweaks after a more sweeping utility friendly proposal was rejected. It remains unclear if that will happen again,

Speaker 1: (18:52)

Joining me as KPBS environment reporter Eric Anderson, Eric. Welcome.

Speaker 3: (18:57)

Thank you, Maureen.

Speaker 1: (18:59)

Can you remind us why the energy companies like SDG and E say the current fee structure for rooftop solar needs to be changed?

Speaker 3: (19:08)

Well, I think the utilities is starting to feel the pressure of an expanding, uh, solar footprint in the state of California. More than 1.3 million homes now have rooftop solar, and that's reduced the revenue that they make. Uh, a big chunk of the revenue that utilities make comes from the electricity to that they sell to customers. And if those customers are gen generating that electricity, a on their own rooftops, uh, then, uh, the utilities are not selling them, uh, the electricity. And what they're saying in a nutshell is that they still have all these fixed costs that they have to deal with maintaining the power lines that get the power to individual homes, both in communities and some of those high, uh, high tension power lines that go to energy projects in, in far flung places. And those costs are fixed. And they feel like if you're getting out of, uh, buying electricity, if you're not buying as a much electricity, uh, then, uh, other people who are buying the electricity are paying more for those fixed cost. So they say they want to fix that imbalance

Speaker 1: (20:14)

And do solar energy advocates agree that some changes need to be made?

Speaker 3: (20:20)

Well, I'm not sure that they agree. I think the solar industry is very comfortable with the net energy metering. It's called NM 2.0 a system that's in place. And they like to have something. I think if you ask the 'em, uh, very similar to that, they're obviously open to, to accepting some tweaks to the current system. Uh, but what they like about it, uh, the current system is that the grid connection fee is only about $12 a month. And, uh, uh, the price for energy generated, uh, on rooftop solar, uh, the price of the utility has to pay the customer, generating that electricity is only a few pennies below the retail price of electricity that those consumers would then have to buy, uh, pay when they buy electricity from the utility.

Speaker 1: (21:08)

And how does the shake up on the state board? The fact as you say that the chair has only been there several weeks, how does that impact the future of the proposal?

Speaker 3: (21:17)

Yeah, that's really a, a kind of an interesting additional complication to this, uh, to this whole issue. You know, if the C P you C had a full board and all the members who were members at the beginning of December last year were still seated. They would have the five members they could have probably gone ahead, uh, and voted on this proposal, which was released on December 13th, but this new proposal, uh, which has these high grade connection fees that get paid every month, regardless of whether or not, uh, that customer uses any electricity from the utility, uh, that have these, uh, that really slash the value of solar generated on rooftop, those proposals. Uh, now it's kind of in flux, because as you said, the president of the PUC unexpectedly retired in December, and there was a new person, uh, Alice re old seated in January. She's only been on the job for a couple of weeks. This is not an easy, uh, cut and dried decision. It's very complicated. The proposed rule changes that we're talking about here, you know, are more than a hundred pages of documents. Um, very detailed. It's not something that you can just read in a, in an afternoon and, and fee you like you're comfortable with it. So, uh, she needs to get up to speed. There's another vacancy on the panel as well, which complicates things

Speaker 1: (22:35)

You say governor Newsom has indicated that he is not a total fan of the new solar fee structure proposed by the CPU. C does the governor have any official capacity to veto the changes?

Speaker 3: (22:48)

The governor hunter doesn't do anything directly related to this, but he appoints all the members of the public utilities commission. And he's the one who appointed Alice Reynolds, who is the new board president. Uh, does the governor have a role to play in this? I think he does. Uh, but it's not the kind of public hands on role, uh, that some people might want him to have. Um, uh, he can influence the commission. And I think what he said when he unveiled his budget earlier this month was that, look, he's looked at it. Um, he's not comfortable with the proposal that was released in December. He said it needs work, but he didn't say very much more than that. Um, he kind of is keeping the, the cards closed to his vest on, on exactly what he wants exactly what is going on. He also hinted that there were discussions about this issue that were ongoing. So that's something that, uh, is being, uh, processed right now, kind of out of the public's view.

Speaker 1: (23:46)

Okay. Then I've been speaking with KPBS environment reporter Eric Anderson, Eric, thank you.

Speaker 3: (23:52)

My pleasure

Speaker 1: (23:58)

To understand how a local comic bookstore survived the pandemic. You need to look to its origin story says K PBS arts reporter, Beth Amando. She checks in at comic Kasi, the comic bookstore. She has been going to for decades to see how it's overcome multiple challenges. These past

Speaker 10: (24:15)

Two years comic books don't always have superheroes, but if we look to the origin story of comic Kasi, we will find an unlikely hero in Robert Scott. He started the store 30 years ago, stocked it with diverse books and made it a welcoming environment for customers. He was a champion of comics and the ability of comics to create a community. But in December of 2019, Scott died unexpectedly of health related issues. Leaving the store in the hands of its two employees, just as a was about to shut the world down.

Speaker 11: (24:48)

When everything's going well, you can talk about community and we're a big community.

Speaker 10: (24:52)

Lucky Bronson was one of those employees, but

Speaker 11: (24:55)

When faced with possibly closing, our customers are family and friends. They stepped up and start buying stuff and keeping us open. And that's when you know, you're part of the community and you're at your lowest and people show

Speaker 10: (25:09)

Up Bronson now manages comic CauseI. He says, it's thanks to the community that Scott built and the eclectic stockpile of books. He acquired that the store survived

Speaker 11: (25:18)

Because of all that product we had sitting around and our customers willingness to try something new during the pandemic. It definitely kept us afloat.

Speaker 10: (25:27)

Megan Massengill is one of those customers during

Speaker 12: (25:29)

The pandemic, we read more. We tried to do pickup more. It's such a pleasure to have built a relationship. And I that's what keeps me coming back and supporting

Speaker 10: (25:38)

Them. That supportive community also extended to some of the small comic book publishers,

Speaker 11: (25:43)

For instance, Robert Kirkman's company Skybound they published a comic, a new walking dead story that no one expected published it for free, sent it to us for free so that we could sell it and make some money. While, while this whole thing was going on. Now, things

Speaker 10: (25:57)

Are sort of back to normal. Hey guys, Hey, what's up man. Regulars wearing masks of their favorite pop culture icons are back in the store each week to pick up their comic books, subscriptions, Gary Dexter dedicates one night a week to what he calls his adult daycare.

Speaker 13: (26:12)

I come here, I get here after work sometime around about five o'clock and I stay till closing time. And we just review the events in nerd kind for the week. And, uh, so highlight on my week,

Speaker 10: (26:23)

Bronson provides the kind of customer service you won't find online or at a big chain says Dexter, but

Speaker 13: (26:29)

I have my weekly order. They look after me every week, uh, pull the books that I read. So not only is he looking after your own subscriptions, but he knows what you like. He can recommend stuff for you, exposes you to stuff that you would otherwise miss. And I think that's important in the store of this type

Speaker 10: (26:43)

Alonzo Nuez is executive director of little fish comic book studio, where he is helping to foster the next generation of comics, fans, and creators, a

Speaker 14: (26:52)

Comic store, really functions as not just a place to buy comics, uh, and to get recommendations, but really as a kind of almost community center, uh, with overstating it for nerds, for geeks, for, for just fans of the comic medium of manga. And it's really important to have the opportunity, as I like to say, to find something completely out of the blue to almost literally trip over it on the ground. This really does

Speaker 10: (27:19)

Look cool though. I'm so sorry. I got distracted. I'm like, and that's one of the joys of comic Kazi were not only at the shelves, Dr. Bursting point with books, but there are boxes lining the walls with treasures, waiting to be unearthed. That's why I like physical shopping for books. I wasn't coming to buy something tonight, but I might grab this not G marsh says it was a small comic shop that hooked him on comics as a kid. Now, as publishers, Sandy, Diego based, I D w publishing, he appreciates those spaces as more than just a place for nerds to meet and discuss what they

Speaker 4: (27:50)

Love from a coldhearted mercenary aspect of things. Like that's just good for the industry and the business in general. Like we want people to, to be able to get out there and be the ones who are saying like, what do you mean? You've never read, you have to read this right now. And we're like, yes, please do. We, we love it a lot too. And it's, it's the lifeblood of, you know, what works for us as we move forward.

Speaker 10: (28:12)

Moving forward, comic Kazi still faces challenges, especially with supply chain issues and the ever-changing nature of the pandemic, but it has a community. It can count on Beth Amando K PBS news.

Speaker 1: (28:24)

KA Kazi is located on Claremont Mesa Boulevard with new comics arriving every Wednesday. This year's California children's report card is out, and it is raising red flags for youth across the state. The report card shows from the pandemic to systemic racism. California youth are under a lot of pressure and more resources are needed to address it. Kelly Hardy is senior managing director of health and research with children. Now she joins us with a look at California's grades. Kelly. Welcome.

Speaker 15: (28:59)

Thank you so much, Jade.

Speaker 1: (29:00)

So how did the state do in this year's report card? Well,

Speaker 15: (29:03)

The state brought home that I wouldn't want my kid to be bringing home well, let's just put it that way. Um, the, the state needs to be making kids priority one, two, and three, to make sure that they have the supports they need to grow up and succeed in California. The grades are a bit better than they were in the previous report for we're moving in the right direction on some issues, thanks to, to really big investments, but it's a start. We have a long way to go. So

Speaker 1: (29:35)

What areas did you all explore in this, uh, research?

Speaker 15: (29:39)

So we looked at 32 different issue areas from funding for K12 education, to healthcare, accountability, to preventive screenings, mental health, substance abuse, decriminalization of youth. So many different issue areas that impact children's lives. And we looked at both long term trends. What's what's happening with our kids. And also what we know of that we can see from the data, um, of the impact of the pandemic in those areas.

Speaker 1: (30:14)

And of particular concern in the data is the disparity in learning loss. Uh, as we enter third year of this pandemic, can you talk about that?

Speaker 15: (30:23)

Absolutely. All kids have had some learning lag, um, that we see from the pandemic due to the closures of closures of school buildings, um, and difficulties connecting online, et cetera. Um, but we definitely see that groups have had more difficulties than others, especially English learners. Um, those who are categorized as economically disadvantaged and American Indian and Latino

Speaker 1: (30:56)

Students, uh, the study also points to arise in suicides among black youth. Uh, how much of an increase are we seeing and, and what's driving that.

Speaker 15: (31:05)

So, unfortunately there's a, a doubling really of the rate of suicides amongst black youth ages, 10 to 24, um, between 2014 and 2020, and especially a, a sharp rise from 2019 to 20 me, there's congressional committees looking into this issue. It's not happening just in California, it's nationwide, but we really need to make sure that there's prevention and interventions targeted specifically towards black youth in California. What we're seeing as far as causes are that there's overt and systemic racism. That's put putting additional pressures on black youth and that our black young people are overpoliced and under resourced.

Speaker 1: (31:56)

Hmm. From where you sit, do you think there are some policies in place that have really exacerbated these issues? ,

Speaker 15: (32:04)

There's just not enough access to services sometimes at any cost. Um, we hear of parents looking for mental healthcare for their kids, and they can't find them no matter what they're willing to pay. So it's a, it's a really pressing concern.

Speaker 1: (32:21)

When you look at the data collected, uh, in this study, um, you describe the outlook for children in California as grim. What were the biggest indications of that? What we pointed

Speaker 15: (32:33)

Out around behavioral health and mental health, um, is really concerning. And, uh, those of us who are parents, um, who are, or who have kids in our lives can certainly see that, that the pandemic has had, and especially concerning impact on the mental health of kids. Additionally, we see that the state earned a D minus grade in healthcare, accountability, too few kids are getting checkups. Only 26% of our infants got well, baby checkups in California. And that was in 2019. So before the pandemic, so we really just need to be making sure that the basics are covered.

Speaker 1: (33:15)

What solutions do you see?

Speaker 15: (33:17)

Well, in the report card, we've included a pro kid agenda item for each of these issue areas. So we point out what we think the state should be doing, um, on all of these issues. One of the things that we mentioned is, again, more access to mental health services in schools and in other areas because kids need them are just not getting them,

Speaker 1: (33:41)

Uh, in this research. Did you find areas where things are actually working for children?

Speaker 15: (33:47)

We did there's many bright spots, and I would encourage folks to look at the report card. One of them is that, uh, there was a historic rate of voting amongst young people in 2020, and that's really, uh, showing leadership for the future.

Speaker 1: (34:03)

I've been speaking with Kelly, Hardy, senior managing director of health and research with children. Now, Kelly, thank you so much for joining

Speaker 15: (34:09)

Us. Thank you.

Speaker 1: (34:16)

This is KPBS midday edition. I'm Maureen Kavanaugh with J Henman while we are sure many of our listeners would like to leave 20, 21 in the rear view mirror. One of the things we can be thankful for from the previous year is all the new music that was released today. We focus on the music that sprang from the instruments created by the locally based Dearing banjo company that a company has been crafting the iconic stringed instruments out of their spring valley location since 1975 from bluegras to blues, to world and experimental K P S's. Christina Kim spoke with CEO, Jamie Deering to break down some of last year's best in banjo music. Jamie,

Speaker 16: (35:02)

The first track we're gonna listen to comes courtesy of celebrated Americana artist. Rhian gins. What can you tell us about I shall not be moved

Speaker 17: (35:11)

Well for those in your audience that are familiar with RH and gins. It should come as no surprise that she's come out with another really great record. This time accompanied by her partner, Italian multi, and a medalist Francesco thereI. The album is titled they're calling me home and is a blend of original composition and traditional songs that have been given new life. Thanks. Tori's hauntingly resonant, voice the tracks on the record encompass a really great one of old and new and their version of the classic spiritual. I shall not be moved, has a particular significance given the commemoration of Martin Luther king Jr day earlier this

Speaker 16: (35:47)

Week, let's take a listen,

Speaker 18: (36:07)


Speaker 16: (36:17)

So beautiful.

Speaker 17: (36:18)

Mm-hmm we and Francesco actually recorded this album in a studio just outside of Dublin while two were stuck in Ireland during the pandemic. Oh wow. So it's interesting to hear the product of that sort of forced musical exile as we enter the new year.

Speaker 16: (36:32)

So really an international affair we just heard, I shall not be moved by ran and gins and in Francesco Teresa for our next song, we're gonna hear something, a little different. Jamie, what can listeners expect from timeless by a PVA Krishna and Ryan Kavanaugh?

Speaker 17: (36:47)

Right? So timeless is actually the, so appearance of banjo on a Prova C Krishna's recent album intuition. She is a highly accomplished Southern Indian violinist, who has out a really great record featuring eight of her own original compositions in her work. She's been known to blend her Indian classical influences with various styles of music from around the world, such as jazz, Italian, Flamingo, and bluegrass. And for songs like timeless, she's joined by ban joist, Ryan Kavanaugh, who adds this F stick jolt of energy into Christian's layered composition.

Speaker 16: (37:41)

I can hear that layered composition that you're you're talking about. So how did this collaboration come through?

Speaker 17: (37:47)

Ryan was recommended to Krishna for this project by master guitarist, John McLaughlin. And it's not hard to see why hearing and pick away on top of the Indian rhythms and percussion is literally awesome. And it's great example of what happens when two distinctly different musical styles merge to create something new and exciting.

Speaker 16: (38:11)

Okay. So next up on our list is one of your personal favorites for the year. Jamie, tell us about ni fish mountain and their track, a Sparrow song.

Speaker 17: (38:19)

So one of my favorite albums of the past year were songs for the spars by ne fish mountain who perform and play with Dearing bands and are good friends. The music they play is this interesting blend of bluegrass and traditional Jewish musical stylings. When they release this album, it immediately occupied a semipermanent rotation in my car CD player for the year, the strong playing style of Eric. Limberg the main instrumentalist really compliments the tight vocal harmonies that he shares with band mate and wife, Donny Zelo. I particularly like a Sparrow song for its hopeful and inspiring lyrics. Especially after the last two years, we've all had

Speaker 19: (38:58)

They say you're small, not worth a thing, but I know the truth. I've heard you sing and face to face I the and their hate and they don't sing don't

Speaker 16: (39:34)

Oh, that is hopeful.

Speaker 17: (39:36)

Yeah. The fish mountain are joined on this track by noted musicians, Jerry Douglas and Brian Sutton who add incredible death to the recording. Aside from the song, you'll also hear a few instrumental tracks that really round out the album and make for a smooth soulful bluegrass experience

Speaker 19: (39:56)

Too many times.

Speaker 16: (39:58)

All right. So for our next track, we're gonna take listeners on as much a historical journey as a musical one. Tell us about Tony. Trish's leaving this lonesome land.

Speaker 17: (40:08)

Well, when I first got to sit down to listen to Tony Trish's album, shall we hope the experience was a lot like listening to a play the song styles of playing words, and sounds completely transport you to an older time with lyrics that convey the grit, hardship, and raw emotion of civil war, era America. It's not an easy thing to do. And they did it amazingly on leaving this lonesome land. Tony has joined by celebrated blues guitarist guy Davis, who also a talented banjo player in his own right to say nothing of the songs, evocative lyrics, Davis' musical background, really IBUs this track with an unmistakable blue sensibility.

Speaker 20: (40:51)

My catalyst hands, they dig the holes. Mys field is full of soul C O line need the red Oak tree hard gave out at 63 C O dropped his whole and fell. Never made it to the evening, Never made a break to run. Now I dig his grave in the Asheville sun.

Speaker 16: (41:30)

This one's giving me chills. Are those hand claps?

Speaker 17: (41:33)

Yeah, it's amazing. The song is sparse rhythmic and powerful, and it really conveys the historical weight that sits on this album. The level of strife and very real situations in the era highlight a fraught history that is brought to life through their compelling musical performances. I appreciate this album immensely, and if it needs to be mentioned at all, I always love hearing our long time. Dear artist and friend Tony Trish on the banjo,

Speaker 18: (42:06)


Speaker 20: (42:07)

The stone above his head on

Speaker 16: (42:14)

Jamie. We've got one more song on our list. And it's from a locally based musician to boot. Tell us about curly headed woman by Clinton Davis.

Speaker 17: (42:22)

So Clinton Davis is one of our featured during artists who plays on both our Vegas Senator and our good time America model banjos. The track we're about to hear comes off of Clinton's album. If I live and don't killed what a name, which was released last year on Tiki parlor recordings, it was cut during the pandemic. And Clinton describes the album as his own form of social distancing. That somber approach is definitely made apparent in some of the more stripped down tracks, which really embody the highs and sound of bluegras greats like Roscoe Holcomb and Tommy JLL. Clinton plays all the instruments on this album, including banjo, Manin, guitar, and piano. All of which really goes to show what a talented musician he is.

Speaker 19: (43:21)

Rocks are in the mountain. Fish is in sea curly. Had the woman made food. I mean, tell me how long do I have to wait? Can I get you now? What the ity

Speaker 17: (43:42)

Really love his style? Nothing on the album sounds the least bit rushed. And every song ripples with heart and nuance from Klaw hammerer open back to blues guitar. This record will practically transport the listener to a creaky back porch to now

Speaker 19: (43:57)

Girl ahead, a woman was the cause of it all. Tell me how long Do I have to wait? Can I get you now?

Speaker 16: (44:11)

If you're like me and you wanna keep hearing more, you can find the full playlist of dear banjo company's best banjo recordings of 2021 at blog dot Dearing, I've been speaking with their CEO, Jamie Dearing. Jamie, thank you so much for joining me today.

Speaker 17: (44:27)

Thanks for having me enjoyed it.

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Though hospitalization rates have not reached the highs of last winter, the ongoing crush of patients is testing the resources of San Diego’s emergency departments. And California Gov. Gavin Newsom and San Diego Mayor Todd Gloria are promoting reforming conservatorship laws in an effort to address homelessness. In other news from Sacramento, state regulators are holding off on considering a proposal that would upend the state’s solar marketplace. Plus, KPBS Arts reporter Beth Accomando checks in at Comickaze, a comic book store she has been going to for decades, to see how it has overcome multiple challenges these past two years. And this year’s California Children’s Report Card has found that, from the pandemic to systemic racism, the state’s youth are under a lot of pressure and more resources are needed to address that. Finally, Jamie Deering, the CEO of Spring Valley’s Deering Banjo Company, joins KPBS Midday Edition to break down some of 2021's best in banjo music — from bluegrass to blues to world and experimental.