More San Diegans Get Their COVID-19 Vaccine
Speaker 1: 00:01 It's been a brutal few months for COVID-19 in San Diego, but now numbers are trending down and more vaccines are slowly rolling out is the worst of the pandemic behind us. San Diego's former mayor has eyes for higher office. Kevin Faulkner says, he's ready to take on the governor, Gavin Newsome and something as simple as going outside for a walk is a problem in some of our neighborhoods, how one community is determined to find a solution for new sidewalks. I'm Mark Sauer and the KPBS round table starts. Now Speaker 2: 00:38 [inaudible] Speaker 1: 00:42 Welcome to our discussion of the week. Stop stories. I'm Mark Sauer and joining me on this remote edition of the KPBS round table report or Matt Hoffman, a KPBS news, Marco Serrano anchor for Univision in San Diego and Andrea Lopez via Fanya who covers San Diego neighborhoods for the union Tribune. More shots are getting into more arms, which is good. The number of new cases and of hospitalizations here are falling also good, but the COVID-19 vaccine rollout has been hampered in San Diego and many other places by a simple fact, supply is failing to meet demand. Joining me with an update is KPBS reporter, Matt Hoffman. Welcome back to the round table, Matt. Hey, Mark has gone. So let's start with some good news, your story this week on firefighters heading to areas in rural San Diego County to vaccinate seniors. Tell us about that. Speaker 3: 01:31 Yeah. We're talking about operation collaboration and it's led by Cal fire San Diego, but it's a bunch of different fire departments, Encinitas, Carlsbad, Lakeside, all pulling together, their firefighter paramedics, who sort of some of them during the head Bay crisis. They also were vaccinating too, but using them as vaccinator. So instead of nurses, they're hitting a bunch of different locations. They were at the Julian library earlier this week, there'll be in homeschool and then over the weekend, they're going up to Ramona high school. So they're trying to meet people sort of where they're at, but I will say one thing with this, just because the site is at the Julian library. Um, you know, we saw people coming from Vista, uh, people coming from all over the region to book appointments there also people from Julian, but the sites are tried to be geared to people so that they don't have to drive from Julian, you know, an hour plus down to Chula Vista to get a vaccine Speaker 1: 02:16 Focuses on proximity, people nearby. Now we've had several other vaccination sites open up in recent days. Uh, where are some of the main ones? How is it going, uh, at those sites early on? Speaker 3: 02:28 Yeah, some of the recent ones, the super stations. So just recently Cal state San Marcos, that's a super station up there in the North County. And then just a couple of days ago, uh, in Lamesa at Grossmont center, we saw a new location open up, uh, and a former department store that one, uh, used to be a Charlotte ruse store. But, um, I was at that site, uh, earlier, uh, this week and that one was moving that one's run by sharp. Now all of these super sites they're supported by the County, meaning all of the vaccines come from the County. And we do know that as the County tries to scale up their super sites, the one at Petco park, regular regularly doing 5,000 vaccinations a day there, they want to be able to do 5,000 vaccinations at each of these super sites. But as they open them, they have to scale up. So like the one in the Mesa, when it first opened a Grossmont center, they did 2000 that day. But with some of the supply questions, they might not be able to scale up. Speaker 1: 03:14 Right. That's what I wanted to get into. You interviewed a number of people who got vaccinated at the rural sites and at these new ones where we're talking about some of those throughout the Metro area, and many say it was a breeze getting in and getting vaccinated, but far more often, we're hearing stories of frustration trying over and over to get appointments slots online. Explain what County supervisor Nathan Fletcher said this week about supply and demand. Speaker 3: 03:37 Yeah, supervisor Fletcher. Um, he did say, you know, while it might be a bad thing that there's not a lot of appointments, it shows that there is demand. And basically what he says is look, and this is something that we knew that the County was going to do from the beginning. They wanted to build out their infrastructure, their vaccination infrastructure, as quickly as they can. And the hopes of basically being able to go to this state and say, look, we are burning through all this vaccine. Please give us more. Um, and we found out this week that we basically right now have the capacity at County sponsored sites. So, you know, not including like places that are getting vaccinations shipped directly to them. So maybe like UC San Diego, but at County sites, they can do a combined 20,000 per day, 20,000 vaccinations, but they only have the supply to do 10,000 a day right now. Speaker 3: 04:16 And basically what does that mean? You know, does that mean that appointments are going to be slashed at the Petco park site? We don't really know because we know UC San Diego is also reaching out to the state to see if they can get some more vaccines to help support that. So, uh, you know, maybe we're going to see the Petco park stations still stay at 5,000 a day and maybe some of those super sites are going to be much lower, but we do know that there is a strain on the supply and County officials tell us that they really only get about a day's notice for when they're going to get more. Speaker 1: 04:39 And, uh, tell us about a couple of wrinkles down at Petco park. Uh, they've had some slots go open, they get filled quickly. Some people wait an hour or two in line, but there's other ways to do it down there. Right, Speaker 3: 04:50 Right. So we still know that there's hundreds of thousands of San Diego that need this vaccination, but you know, one of the county's top performing sites, the UC San Diego on that does about 5,000 vaccinations per day. Uh, earlier in the morning on Thursday, you know, they said, look, we only have about 2000 appointments and we could do about 3000 more. Now after blasting that out on social media, they were able to kind of quickly fill up those appointments. Uh, but something interesting if you are going to that UC San Diego site, which is seeing a lot of the traffic, um, traffic sort of comes in from three ways into the entrance. Um, so if you're going down there, there's one little trick that can get you your vaccination a lot quicker. Um, you can do walk-ups. So now all the appointments, when you book them online, it's going to say, you know, drive through UC San Diego, but you can park, you know, a couple blocks away wherever you can find a spot and you can just walk up. And people we talked to on Thursday said they get in and out and about 20 minutes Speaker 1: 05:37 And that's all around Petco park, downtown near the ballpark. Speaker 3: 05:40 Yeah. All around Petco park, people waiting in their cars say that they wait anywhere from an hour to two hours, uh, to get through that. Speaker 1: 05:45 And we'll get a little more into the weeds. Now, many people over 65, me included are waiting the second shot of the COVID vaccine. What did Fletcher say this week about priorities regarding first and second shots? Yeah, there was a question Speaker 3: 05:58 About, you know, we're pushing out a lot of vaccinations. Are we going to have enough to do second doses? And the supervisor Fletcher said that we're going to be prioritizing second dose appointments over first ones. You know, they want to make sure that they keep hammering home, that they're hitting that vulnerable population of seniors. You know, a lot of the deaths that we're seeing in San Diego. Um, but what's interesting in that, you know, typically, you know, when we were first doing some of these vaccinations people get their shot and then they get, you know, three to four weeks, uh, get their followup appointment. Now the County said, uh, they technically have up to six weeks to schedule that followup. So sort of based on supply and demand, they're going to be, you know, scheduling anywhere from three to six weeks. Those follow-up appointments. Speaker 1: 06:33 It was good news here this week, uh, Johnson and Johnson with a third vaccine as a applied for emergency status. And that's expected to be granted. So we may get a big boost here in supply nationally going forward. And I wanted to ask about a president, Joe Biden, the Democrats in Congress, they're set to pass a COVID 19 relief. Bill includes hundreds of billions of dollars to ramp up the nation's vaccine rollout. Any idea how soon the impact of that boost and supply and resources might be felt in counties like San Diego? Speaker 3: 07:00 You know, we heard a County public health officer, Dr. Wilma Wooten talking about this this week, you know, she's saying, look, not only Johnson and Johnson, but there's some other vaccines that are coming down the pipeline and, you know, while supplies might be constrained right now that on the horizon, there's some good news coming. There's a lot more vaccinations coming. We've heard that Johnson and Johnson, it's only a one dose vaccination. And they said that they can make billions. So a lot more vaccinations are sets that come to the region. Speaker 1: 07:23 Now we should note the COVID numbers overall are improving here and around the nation and more good news, the double whammy of flu season, plus the COVID pandemic had health officials distressed about hospitals getting overrun last fall. Now a flu numbers are way down explain what's going on there. Speaker 3: 07:39 Yeah, unfortunately we did just have our first flu death of the season, but that's pretty remarkable when you look at some of the other seasons, you know, talking to health officials, they say that this is sort of a bright spot during a deadly pandemic. Um, but talking to some of those health officials, they basically say, look coronavirus in the flu. They spread in the same way. So a lot of these measures that we're taking, wearing masks, social distancing, staying away from people, not in our households as likely stopping the spread, curbing the spread of the flu. Speaker 1: 08:03 And finally, the super bowl is on Sunday. Traditionally, one of the year's big social events, of course. What are health officials saying about how to watch the game safely? Speaker 3: 08:13 Well, they're saying watch it with your immediate family people inside your household. They're asking people not to go gather in these big groups, like we're accustomed to big super bowl parties. You know, we have 30, 40, 50 people you're playing the squares. Um, ideally, you know, maybe you can play those squares via zoom or something or via text and be out there asking people not to gather in groups, especially now that we have that UK Varian out there. You know, we had just, uh, last week, 150 suspected cases here, um, at some of the highest in the nation. So the really keeping an eye on that because they don't want to see a surge coming from that variant, which we know spreads a lot quicker than regular COVID-19 Speaker 1: 08:45 Right. We want to have that light at the end of the tunnel. Keep getting brighter and brighter as we go. Certainly I've been speaking with KPBS reporter, Matt Hoffman. Thanks Matt. Thanks Mark. Can a San Diego rise to the governor's chair in California? It's happened before with Pete Wilson using the office as a springboard to the us Senate in the eighties followed by two terms in Sacramento in the 1990s, but these are much different times and a much different electorate for San Diego's. Kevin Faulkner still Faulkner sees an opportunity with governor Gavin Newsome facing a recall effort over his handling of COVID-19, whether it's 20, 22 or sooner Faulkner threw his hat in the ring this week, Univision San Diego anchor Marco Serrano got the first interview with Faulkner and joins us here on the round table. Hello Marco. Hello. Thank you for having me first off. How did Univision get this interview? Was it an attempt by Faulkner to connect directly with a Spanish speaking audience? Speaker 4: 09:38 A Faulkner has always had a relationship with Univision going back to the first time he actually won that special election right after the, uh, Bob Filner fiasco. And, um, he would go into our station every Friday morning and do our morning show. And he did that for probably more than a year. So it was really an attempt on their part to have the Hispanic community get to know him. And from our side of it was also a great opportunity to have him do Q and A's every morning and just let people know what he was trying to do within this new administration. And so that relationship just kept on through the years. Speaker 1: 10:13 Do you get the sense that Faulkner has support among the local Spanish speaking communities? Or will this be an uphill climb? Speaker 4: 10:20 I think it's going to be a challenge for them to have the Hispanic community get to know him and also warm up to not necessarily their ideas, but just him in itself. I think it might seem a little detached sometimes from, from the community just because he's a white guy in his fifties and people are getting used to now in our community to relate to some of the new people that we have in politics that speak Spanish that are Hispanic. And that's not only at a local level, but also at a state level. Speaker 1: 10:55 And you discussed a variety of topics with them, including COVID 19, that's the basis for this recall effort against Gavin Newsome what's Faulkner's pitch that he'd be a better leader on this issue. Of course he runs in 2022. Maybe COVID will be out of the headlines by then Speaker 4: 11:11 Kept emphasizing about COVID on a process led by science. He said, and that's, here's where his alignment to party politics really get clear talks about opening schools or schools should have been open from from months, uh, behind claiming that there's no science really behind the risks of open air dining, or even shutting down playgrounds. He, he mentioned that there was no really clear data on this. And so that the Newsome government should have done a better job in just actually discerning which, which were real facts and which were just reactions that we were developing. As we were getting to know how this has worked Speaker 1: 11:57 And governor Newsome or any democratic opponent assured a bash Faulkner for supporting Donald Trump in 2020 dropping his criticism of the ex president from earlier. How do you think this plays in blue, California and with the Spanish? Speaker 4: 12:09 I think what Hispanics, it's going to be tricky if you're a Republican politician and Hispanics don't know your name, that's actually a good thing in a way, because it means that you never really did such things that word got out through the community through those that even don't follow politics or current events that much. And so he has that going for him. He pretty much is starting on a clean slate and the rest of the state within the Hispanic community. Um, I don't think it might affect them that much. It's it's he comes in and from an angle of economics, at least that's what he says. And I think it was also pretty smart of him politically, if Trump would have won to have him aligned with Trump as president, instead of creating this wall between him, whether he actually made it to Sacramento or not. And so I thought it was a pretty smart move in a way Speaker 1: 13:03 You asked, Faulkner about how he would attract democratic support. What was his response Speaker 4: 13:08 Through the power of argument he said, and making it about leadership for him, demograph San Diego demographics mirror, what the rest of the state looks like. And so that's why he thinks that it wouldn't be that hard for him to actually convince part of that 30% that is not registered as a Democrat or just a Republican. And then also try to win some of those boats of moderate Republicans that voted, or that actually vote that did vote for Biden. And so they're trying to pull that people in those boulders in and talking about housing, just overall safety infrastructure, as we know, they, they, they had this program where they promise to pay more than a thousand. That's a thousand miles of, um, new paving around the city. And I think they actually surpassed that. So things like that, that he's trying to, to implement or talk about at least trying to sell that message to the rest of California Speaker 1: 14:10 In the last Republican nominee, John Cox also from San Diego, he says, he'll run in a recall if it happens. And Cox also took a veiled shot at people like Faulkner tweeting that Gavin Newsome and big city politicians made a mess. Where do you think Faulkner stacks up in a potential recall field? He'd have to get out of that first before he could run, uh, generally. Right. Speaker 4: 14:31 And, um, that's a tricky question in a way, cause we don't really know where we're going to be at statewide as far as, uh, the economy and COVID, by the time of a recall, if it actually does happen, things might change a lot for California for the good, uh, meaning that that's actually something that Newsome can stop worrying about. If the kids are back in school, if we have more small businesses opening and, and people that work in the service sector are back. Thanks, Mike just totally changed. And the recall might just seem like unnecessary, especially being so close to what would be actually an election next year. Speaker 1: 15:11 It's a good point though, while we're talking about recall, where do you, where do you think we are? You think it's really going to happen? Speaker 4: 15:15 Well, they say they have 1.3 million signatures already gathered. They're trying to hit 2 million by March the 17th when the deadline comes. And so they might actually get the right amount of signatures. But like I said before, you need a lot of money in order to, to pull this thing off and you actually need a big name. This is not, you know, two Oh three with chores neighbor, which was easier for people to go to him and, and, um, Davis, um, I think it's quite an effort that really would need good campaigning on the Ricoh group. And also on the side of any candidate, including Foglar just to get their name known and convince people. That's why they should, they should not be with, with newsroom anymore. Intellect, somebody new Speaker 1: 16:10 And Latinos are a huge voting block in California. Of course, what are the key issues they're watching when it comes to a race like this? Speaker 4: 16:17 So the public policy Institute of California came out with a poll on Tuesday. So did UC Berkeley Institute of policy. One of them says that four in 10 California instinct that COVID is the most important issue for, for state government and this legislature. And COVID seems to be on everybody's mind because it also hits your pocket, especially for Hispanics and specifically for Hispanic women who have actually been the most affected nationwide throughout the pandemic. Those two issues I think, and schools, opening schools, so that actually parents can go back to work, uh, is what really, really, uh, people are thinking about and hoping that that would change soon. Speaker 1: 17:03 There's plenty to watch in the weeks and months ahead, I've been speaking with Marco Serrano news anchor for Univision in San Diego. Thanks Marco. Thank you. We turn now to a different kind of mad money in this case. Mad stands for maintenance assessment district. It's a tax commonly assessed by a smattering of business owners or homeowners on themselves for specific improvements. There are dozens of Mads across San Diego, but never has there been one to install sidewalks until now joining me to explain is Andrea Lopez via Fanya who covers neighborhoods for the San Diego union Tribune. Andrea, welcome back to the round table. Thanks for having me Mark. Well, what's an a, this is really an interesting story and, uh, it started out, um, you know, just with a bunch of neighbors fed up, start by setting the scene for us. Where's this neighborhood and what kind of community is it? Speaker 5: 17:53 Yeah, so, uh, paradise Hills is such a beautiful community. It's located in Southeastern San Diego, North of the 54. And it really is just a mostly residential neighborhood. You have a big population of Filipino residents. There's also a military presence there, lots of family members, lots of single family homes. So it really, isn't just a beautiful community. They have a, a certain commercial area where you have small businesses kind of thing. So it's, it's mostly a residential neighborhood though Speaker 1: 18:25 Sidewalks, uh, and to a large extent. And that's what the fuss is about. What have residents done there did in the past to try and get the city to address their lack of, Speaker 5: 18:36 Yeah. So, you know, residents have spoken to their council members in the past. This has been an ongoing issue. It's an old neighborhood, some of the streets, you know, you'll walk down some of them and there'll be, are we a house with a sidewalk, but then two houses without a sidewalk. So residents have been outspoken about this issue. They've, you know, emailed their representatives or have tried to come up with some creative solutions, but nothing has really stuck until now. Speaker 1: 19:01 Story notes that paradise Hills is hardly unique. Many San Diego neighborhoods across all income levels are lacking sidewalks. Why is that? Speaker 5: 19:08 Yeah, so I'm actually really interesting, which I didn't know before, but, uh, the city did an inventory of its sidewalks just to determine which neighborhoods had sidewalks, which ones didn't have sidewalks and, you know, kind of taking a look at that. I believe a former council member Mark Kiersey was, was, um, spearheaded that, but, but some of what explains why some neighborhoods are missing sidewalks mainly has to do with when, when these neighborhoods were built, right? What requirements were in place for developers. That's why you would get all this kind of like patchy sidewalks in these communities because developers didn't have to build sidewalks at the time. Speaker 1: 19:44 And so explain what a mad a maintenance assessment district is. What are they normally established for? Speaker 5: 19:50 Yeah. So maintenance assessment districts are really interesting. They're normally established by property owners because they want services that go beyond what the city offers. So, you know, maybe there's like a tagging problem or maybe there's a lot of litter in the neighborhood and they want to deal with that. But the city doesn't necessarily, you know, address graffiti on private property. Um, so normally these property owners have to get together and decide that they want to tax themselves to pay for this extra benefit. Uh, it's a whole long process, but essentially all the property owners have to decide on what their main assessment district is going to do, which is usually maintenance, um, you know, cleaning, graffiti, picking up litter, um, maybe creating some sort of sense of community with banners and they, they vote to tax themselves and if it passes, then they taxed themselves and they get all these services. Speaker 1: 20:40 And we should note that a business owners can do this too. Maybe you've got a section of business owners on a Boulevard, for instance, they want improvements with lights or better sidewalks or what have you. And they can assess themselves as well and get money to improve the area. Right, Speaker 5: 20:57 Right. Yeah. The business improvement districts is what they're called Speaker 1: 21:00 Now. Uh, this neighborhood in paradise Hills, can they even qualify to set up such an assessment district for the purpose of installing sidewalks? Speaker 5: 21:08 Yeah. So I reached out to the city and, um, you know, they didn't, they didn't give me a direct answer. Apparently the residents are in touch with city staff and figuring out what exactly, um, you know, can they do, and can the maintenance assessment district pay for this? It sounds like it can, but it, but I believe they have to have further discussions about it. Speaker 1: 21:27 And how much would the whole thing cost? Speaker 5: 21:30 Well, um, because this is an area in, you know, Southeastern San Diego. Some residents may be lower to medium income. Uh, they're trying to keep the costs low. So the proponents of this are proposing maybe like a 10 to $12 tax extra a month that would, uh, you know, essentially fund the main successment district. So their budget is pretty small and if they do want to put on these sidewalks and they can, it's gonna take a long time. Speaker 1: 21:58 I see, because obviously per month they'd have to raise it over time and get a pool of money going, and that's going to take awhile. And now, uh, do we know how much it cost to put in a sidewalk in this city? Speaker 5: 22:11 It's difficult to determine. It depends on a lot of things. Depends on the location, depends on the permit, me whether the sidewalk is missing something else or, you know, it's all, all of these other components that play into that. But there is an average cost or some kind of repair that, that the city does. And, um, I believe that's an average of 18 to $25 per square foot. And that's depending if there's a tree that city staff has to get rid of. Speaker 1: 22:39 And do we know exactly our linear length of sidewalks here? Uh, I mean, is it hundreds of miles of sidewalks in that area? Speaker 5: 22:47 No, but, uh, Statia one of the residents I interviewed said that she's been speaking with different people with regards to the sidewalks and she thinks that it would be a million dollars for a mile of sidewalk. So like I said, they have a long way to go, Speaker 1: 23:03 You know, it's funny, the sidewalks are ubiquitous and we kind of just take them for granted, but there's a lot, a lot that goes into it. When you, when you talk about breaking it all down like this, now you spoke with some urban planning experts. What are, why are sidewalks so important for a community accordingly? Speaker 5: 23:19 Yeah. And, and it's super interesting, like you said, Mark, it's something we take for granted, right? We walk outside our doors and we don't normally think about, Oh, we have a sidewalk here that we're walking on, but, but they play a big role in everything with plan urban planners hold me, is that it plays a role in, you know, the overall sense of community. How likely are you just to walk down the street with your dog and maybe get to know your neighbors, um, or get to know your own neighborhood, if you don't feel safe walking because you feel you might have to walk where the cars are driving, then you might not walk your community as often you might stay in doors. Um, also because you can't maybe walk to the store or you, you don't feel safe having your son walk to school, then you're going to use your car more often. Um, you know, so that plays into pollution and, you know, overall, it's, it's the sense of, you know, the neighborhood, not, not feeling as, as nice maybe, um, a lot of the streets in that community, um, because they don't have sidewalks, there's overgrown weeds. So, you know, more people that will dump, you know, old mattresses or just old, old things down on the floor, because there's all these weeds. Yeah. Speaker 1: 24:22 Not a yellow brick road, but, uh, important and with value and nonetheless, and finally what happens now, is there a campaign and a vote of the people in this paradise Hills neighborhood to decide whether to tax themselves for this project? What's the first step. It seems like they got to get some agreement in place, right? Speaker 5: 24:39 Yeah. So they have to decide exactly what services they want, this maintenance assessment district to provide for the community. So, um, obviously sidewalks is a big one, but it also includes, uh, graffiti, um, litter, abatement, and then a sense of place. So they would like to install kind of those neighborhood signs that you see like in North park or in Barrio Logan, uh, to give the community just, you know, a bigger sense of place. Um, so they're hashing that out in a debating what services and maintenance assessment district is gonna provide. And, um, they're doing this with city staff and then after they get a budget, they will, uh, go to the property owners in the neighborhood and do some sort of, uh, uh, balloting to, to see if property owners are willing to pay a little extra for this. Speaker 1: 25:25 Well, I'll be interested to see how it all works out. Quite a story credit, a great little community yarn as we call it. I'd been speaking with Andrea Lopez via Fanya of the San Diego union Tribune. Thanks, Andrea. Thank you for having me that wraps up our discussion of the week's top stories I'd like to thank my guests, Matt Hoffman of KPBS news, Marco Serrano of Univision, San Diego and Andrea Lopez via Fanya of the San Diego union Tribune. You can find all the stories we discussed on our website, kpbs.org. I'm Mark Sauer. Thanks for listening and join us again next week on the round table.