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Weekly reported COVID-19 infections increase by 40% in San Diego County

 May 20, 2022 at 12:42 PM PDT

S1: A spike in cases and new COVID variants detected in San Diego.
S2: So we should expect to see them gradually replace the prior variants.
S1: I'm Maureen CAVANAUGH. This is KPBS Midday Edition. We'll hear from the candidates in San Diego's District two city council race.
S3: I'm just tired of not having responsive government or transparent government.
S4: I will show up and the community will be heard at City Hall.
S1: And San Diego's green spaces open up for a local art with the new parks social. That's ahead on Midday Edition. Two new and highly contagious COVID virus variants have been detected in San Diego. The county health department says three cases of the Bay four and Bay five variants have been found. Those two variants , first identified in Europe , are offshoots of the Omicron variant. They are believed to be even more infectious than the fast spreading Omicron , but of greater concern. Health experts say the new variant seemed to evade immune protection from both vaccines and natural immunity. The new variants may be partly responsible for a significant uptick in COVID cases. More than 1500 new cases were reported in San Diego Wednesday , the highest one day number since February. Joining me is Dr. Robert Schooley , an infectious disease specialist at UC San Diego Health. And Dr. Scully , welcome to the program.
S2: Thank you.
S1: Now the new variants , BA four and be a five are even more infectious than previous variants.
S2: What they're doing is what we're seeing with these variants is that there's a gradual evolution of RNA viruses , which is what the coronavirus is composed of , have as a strategy to evolve in front of the immune responses in the animals they're trying to grow in. In our case , humans and the corona viruses that have been circulating in the past are confronting those of us who've been vaccinated and those of us have been infected with prior variants. And the only way it can keep circulating is to generate new variants and not as sensitive to the immune responses that are in the population. So these VA forward and BFR variants have advantages over the earlier ones because we're not as immune to them as we are to the earlier variants. And so we should expect to see them gradually replace the prior variants.
S1: And they do have the ability to infect people who've been vaccinated.
S2: They do. But we've you know , we've seen reinfection from the beginning in this outbreak. We know that coronavirus immunity is transient. You get vaccinated , you get infected. And shortly after you recover , you begin to see the immune response you build , begin to decay over time , which is why we need booster shots and why when you get reinfected , you get a boost in your immunity as the immune response from prior experience declines , you're susceptible to getting reinfected with the same variant , or in this case , new variants. The new variants are easier for the virus because your immune system is not as tuned into them. And so they're it's easier for them to infect people with prior immunity. But this has been going on really since the beginning of the pandemic and known for hundreds of years with other coronaviruses that circulate in the human population.
S1: So cases in San Diego have risen about 40% in the past week.
S2: And I'd be surprised if we see a large surge in deaths or in hospitalizations. We may see a bit of an increase as the number of cases rise and as people who aren't as immune prepared for these new variants become exposed and infected. I think one distinction that's important to know is that , yes , these vaccines and prior infection are not as good at preventing infection with these new variants , but they do reduce it , but they are still quite effective in reducing severe illness and death. That's one of the reasons we're seeing increasing number of cases out of proportion to the number of hospitalizations and deaths. We're still getting protection from these new variants with our prior immunity from vaccines and prior infection.
S1: So it looks like with vaccinations , these variants don't produce severe disease.
S2: You think about people operating , running transit systems or betting grocery stores , things that where we need to have people in place to go on with essential societal functioning. So I think people who have jobs like that should really think about masking up and trying to keep their heads down as we go through this new round of infections so that we can keep everything open and keep everything rolling. We didn't have trouble with the number of hospital beds in December and January. What we had trouble with was people to take care of people in those beds.
S1: We had some good news about vaccinations this week with young kids , 5 to 11 now eligible for a Pfizer COVID booster.
S2: And so it kind of keeps the lid on the boiling pot. It doesn't stop the water from being hot , but it will keep it from being quite as severe as it might have been without. So the more immunity we have with the population from vaccination , the harder it is for the virus to pass from one person to the other.
S1: And what about masking for all of us ? On Wednesday , the head of the CDC urged masking in parts of the country with medium or high rates of COVID transmission.
S2: I can tell you that when I go to the grocery store , I still put a mask on. It's not a big deal. And I'd just as soon continue to be able to work and and not expose people. So even though we're not at a high level right now , for me , it's something that I would do when I'm around other people indoors. For people who are at risk , in other words , older people , people who haven't been vaccinated , people who have underlying diseases , even though we're not at moderate or high risk right now as the CDC categorization goes , it's really. I think the masking remains a very important part of remaining healthy. What often happens is our reporting is behind where the virus really is. It takes a while for someone to get tested. It takes a while for those numbers to be reported. So what we're seeing now in case numbers is what was going on really last week in terms of viral transmissions. And so now is the time that instituting more masking and things is going to have a bigger impact on slowing things down than if we wait another week and say , wow , it really is surging. I really do think that it's a good idea to keep a mask handy and to use it when you're around other people , though.
S1: I've been speaking with Dr. Robert Schooley , an infectious disease specialist at UC San Diego Health. Dr. Schooley , thank you very much.
S2: Thanks very much. Have a good day.
S1: One of the most competitive races in San Diego's June 7th primary election is the race for City Council District two. Incumbent Jen Campbell faces five challengers in the district , which covers Claremont , Mission Beach and Point Loma. KPBS metro reporter Andrew Bowen takes a closer look at some of those candidates and their priorities.
S5: City Council member Jen Campbell assembled her supporters this week to tout one of her proudest accomplishments since taking office a system to legalize and regulate short term home rentals popularized by Airbnb. The issue had been at a stalemate for years , with hard liners on both sides. Campbell says she brokered the compromise.
S6: We will close the chapter on the unregulated market that has vexed our city , our residents and the good faith hosts who wanted a clear set of guidelines to follow.
S5: The rules , limit the number of full time vacation rentals to 1% of the city's housing stock.
S6: Which will allow thousands of homes to come back onto our housing market and bring stability and normalcy and peace and quiet to our neighborhoods.
S5: While Campbell is proud of the ordinance , her opponents in the race see it as a betrayal.
S3: I'm just tired of not having responsive government or transparent government.
S5: Mandy Havlik is an activist and member of the Peninsula Community Planning Board , where she's been a skeptic of growth and denser housing.
S3: A lot of my background is in customer service and I feel like that's something that's missing in the office. A lot of the issues with our current incumbent is , Hey , I call , I have issues and I'm not getting a response. I'm not getting a call back. And ultimately , we all want to feel seen and heard.
S5: KPBS spoke with Havlik and three other candidates at a debate this week , which Campbell said she couldn't attend because of a scheduling conflict.
S7: What kind of city are we giving my kids is the reason why I'm running.
S5: Joel Day is a UCSD lecturer and former staffer in the mayor's office. He bills himself as the most detail oriented candidate with a short , medium and long term plan to tackle his top priority homelessness.
S7: We need safe encampment sites so that people get into the continuum of care and off of stoops and off of the streets. We need block leasing or master leasing so that the city directly can put people into units without security deposits , without credit checks , which are huge barriers of entry to rapidly rehouse people. And then finally , we need to build deeply affordable units.
S4: I will show up and the community will be heard at City Hall.
S5: Linda Lucas is a dentist , professor of dental hygiene and a realtor. Among her top priorities is fixing San Diego's crumbling infrastructure , though she doesn't want to pay for those repairs with higher taxes.
S4: A lot of us are being taxed out of the state , right ? I don't know how much more of a burden we can handle. So my goal is to look for alternatives. Funding measures , seek the maximum we can from the state and from our federal governments , and only if we've exhausted all other resources. Then we can talk about raising taxes.
S5: Lori Saldana is a former state assembly member and retired community college professor. What sets her apart in the crowded field of candidates.
S5: She says her record in the legislature shows she was ahead of the curve in supporting same sex marriage and the ban on the open carrying of firearms.
S4: So I think as the state changed , I really pushed , pushed , pushed on those issues , if not for me to get them through with my name on them. For others in future sessions to get them through.
S5: District two is at the center of some hot debates in city politics , like how to redevelop the city owned sports arena property in the Midway District and how to update the Claremont Community Plan , which will change height and density limits in that neighborhood. The two candidates with the most votes in the primary will compete in a runoff on November 8th. Andrew Bohn , KPBS News.
S1: This is KPBS Midday Edition. I'm Maureen CAVANAUGH. San Diego parks will come alive with public art starting this weekend. The Civic Initiative Parks Social grew out of a desire to offer local artists financial support during uncertain times. KPBS arts producer and editor Julia Dixon Evans tells us about a few of the projects you can visit.
S8: San Ysidro Community Park is a narrow stretch of grass surrounded by homes , businesses , a rec center and busy trolley tracks. In the middle artist event , Ramon and Shayna Ray Dowling weave long strips of cloth into massive blankets. It's part of their park social art installation , one of 18 site specific art projects that are taking over San Diego City parklands over the next few months. Ramon said that they chose this space and their project for this community.
S4: The birds.
S1: The trolley , the this kind of pattern that creates a square around houses. We thought that it would be.
S4: A really beautiful.
S1: Thing to do in for a project because the communities right around.
S4: The project.
S8: The City of San Diego , announced the park's social initiative in May 2020 , when artists and performers face immediate and future uncertainty. City funding for the arts had just been slashed by 50%. And with events and museums on hold , creative opportunities were as dire as the economics. City arts leaders felt it was urgent that they develop programs to get funding and opportunities into the hands of local artists. Jonathan Glass is the executive director of the city's Commission for Arts and Culture.
S7: Here in San. Diego.
S2: Diego.
S7: Individual artists were going to be among the very hardest hit , and we had to do something about that. All of their sources of income just went flat immediately.
S8: Beginning Saturday through November , the site specific projects will gradually be activated in parks across the city by 23 artists in total. For Reiman and Dowling in San Ysidro , they collected clothing from the community and cut it into strips to weave into blankets. Darling said that they chose used clothing because it meant that every strip of fabric has a history of its own. Some even carried , their former owner sent carrying their essence with it. But there's something about textile that's. Almost.
S4: Almost.
S3: Like it's asking you to touch it. And especially since these are clothes , you know , and they were. Against.
S8: Against.
S3: A body , against skin.
S8: The artists will teach visitors how to weave their own blankets out of scraps in several workshops. The first on Saturday at 3 p.m. at the park. They'll also build a meditative tent out of the cloth strips called a memory dome , where the community can reflect on the last two years of the pandemic. In July. A picnic celebration will be held at San Isidro Community Park , with the finished interactive works in place several miles due north of San Isidro. Married artists Ingram , Ober and Marisol Rendon opted for Otay Valley Regional Park. It's a wilder , less defined space. The network of about eight miles of trails.
S4: Each time we pulled up to a little trailhead kiosk , it.
S7: Presented a very different idea of what the park was. You know.
S4: All of it was sort of wrapped up in questions and discoveries. And so.
S7: That to us is kind of the most.
S4: Interesting point of entry.
S8: Place that we can learn.
S4: From basically.
S8: And feel excited about and research. As Rendon and over explore the park , they realized the park served four main communities when the park's visitors and trail goers another a population living in encampments in the park. There's also active graffiti artists and of course , the wildlife. They'll teach park visitors how to make a sculpture out of invasive pampas grass. Beginning this Sunday at the ranger station at 11 throughout parks social. They'll also install a sphere sculpture for the encampment residents to use to assemble their own artworks and another sphere of blank stucco near an area with significant graffiti art in City Heights. The collaborative artist duo Bryan and Ryan chose choices like a strangely hybrid , natural and human made park , known for its loop trail tracks like was built as a reservoir in 1901 and is now stocked as a youth fishing lake. non-Native eucalyptus trees dot the point eight mile perimeter trail of the lake , as do play structures , benches and park horse style fitness equipment. Ryan believes that Ryan and the pair said that they were instantly charmed by the park.
S7: There's an obvious ownership over the park by all the park goers , and even though we visited every other park in our district , some of them seemed more ornamental , whereas this park people would participate in every possible way. And it didn't take long just walking around the park where people would ask us what we were doing.
S8: On Sunday at noon , they'll hold their first hand phones across the water event , where visitors can tell each other stories using tin cans strung across the lake. They've also already begun carving faces of regular park goers into eucalyptus trees. Stamps approved by the Rangers , of course , for a set of billboards and printed activity books. They will gather memories and park. Law. It's something they hope to contribute to as well. The two have adapted personas. Brian is an active exerciser , clad in brightly colored tracksuits , and Ryan is an outdoorsy nature lover dressed in fleece. These are small interruptions to the order of things. ATREUS Like.
S7: There's some convergence of the way people will tell their own story , tell stories of things that they've seen here , and we want to participate in some of that.
S8: Production for Parks Sociale officially launches at 11 on Saturday at Fault Line Park. There'll be an ice cream social , a chance to meet the artists and pick up a guide to the projects and a performance of Timothy Murdock's Walking the Wall installation will follow. Julia Dixon Evans , KPBS News.
S1: You can find links to more information and calendars and maps of all the projects on our website.

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Two new and highly contagious COVID-19 variants have been detected in San Diego. This comes as more than 1,500 new COVID-19 cases were reported in the county Wednesday – the highest one-day number reported since February. And, one of the most competitive races in San Diego's June 7 primary election is the race for City Council District 2. Incumbent Jen Campbell faces five challengers. Finally, San Diego’s parks will come alive with public art this weekend. The civic initiative Park Social grew out of a desire to offer local artists financial support during uncertain times. We have details on some of the projects that will be on display.