Skip to main content

Flu Outbreak Hits Local Migrant Shelter And More Local News

Cover image for podcast episode

In today’s San Diego News Matters podcast, at least 16 people at a family migrant shelter downtown are suffering flu-like symptoms. Also, say goodbye to plastic plates, bowls and cups when you go out to eat and the city’s Independent Budget Analyst says San Diego’s homeless program funding is "unsustainable."

Show transcript

Speaker 1: 00:00 Good morning. It's May 24th I'm Deb Welsh. Had your listing to San Diego News matters of flu outbreak has second more than a dozen people this week at a San Diego migrant shelter. KPBS health reporter as Susan Murphy tells us, health officials are isolating the patients and taking extra precautions. At least 16 people at a downtown family migrant shelter are suffering. Flu like symptoms. San Diego County Deputy Public Health Officer, Dr. Dean sideliner says people with flu symptoms are being quarantined.

Speaker 2: 00:31 As we identify someone in the family unit who may be l we are providing them the treatment that they need, providing preventive treatment to the family members and isolating them together in a hotel room to try and prevent further spread of flu within the shelter itself.

Speaker 1: 00:46 Side Linger says all of the flu patients came to San Diego from border processing centers in Texas. He says the migrants are not mixing with the general population, so there are no risks to the public. Susan Murphy Kpbs News, a recent report raises concerns over how San Diego Mirror, Kevin Faulkner is funding homeless initiatives. KPBS metro reporter Andrew Board says it comes as the city council prepares to vote on a budget next month.

Speaker 3: 01:14 San Diego's independent budget analyst says in a report this month, the funding for Faulkner's three bridge shelters and a storage facility for homeless people is unsustainable. That's because the programs are an ongoing expense, but the mayor has funded them with reserves or one time dollars counsel woman Vivian Mareno said at a meeting earlier this month, the programs we're also using up money that could go to longer term solutions like affordable housing.

Speaker 1: 01:39 I'm concerned that we're playing a financial shell game so we can pretend that these tent shelters and storage centers are free. They're not. We're paying for them with the money that we should be spending on building affordable housing to prevent more people from becoming homeless.

Speaker 3: 01:55 A spokesman for Faulkner says the city could set up a permanent funding source for homeless programs in March. That's when voters will decide on a hotel tax measure that would also fund the expansion of the Convention Center. Andrew Bowen KPBS news

Speaker 1: 02:09 today, the second phase of San Diego's plastic foam ban goes into effect. KPBS reporter Matt Hoffman says, that means foam plates, bowls and cups will be outlawed at most businesses.

Speaker 4: 02:21 The Mexican restaurant, Taco factory in the college area uses plastic foam boxes for takeout orders. Coal owner has to, Garcia says he pays around 30 cents per container now, but paper ones are almost four times as expensive.

Speaker 5: 02:33 Is that paper one of these? I'll run up by about a dollar a dollar 20. Oh, wow. Yeah, it's way more.

Speaker 4: 02:38 The city says the plastic foam containers aren't biodegradable and banning them will help the environment. Taco factory still has a number of foam boxes and plans to switch to paper and the next couple of weeks

Speaker 5: 02:48 it's going to affect pricing, uh, at the end of the day because we have to charge more to their customers. You know, um, sometimes I get a little bit upset, but we have to go with the times.

Speaker 4: 02:59 Garcia says he heard

Speaker 1: 03:00 about the upcoming band but didn't know it was going into effect until we told him. He says the change is just the cost of doing business. Matt Hoffman tape PBS news. The city of San Diego says it's committed to educating businesses about the new ordinance and how to comply with it. After a written warning, the city could start imposing fines on businesses that are still using foam plates. Dozens of bills were debated at the capitol Thursday, including proposals that would ban flavored tobacco sales and smoking in state parks, capital public radio. Sammy Kay Ola has the latest Democratic senator. Jerry Hill withdrew his bill to ban the sale of flavored tobacco products in California, citing hostile amendments such as exemptions for hookah lounges, public health officials where these products entice kids and teens and several cities have tried to ban them. California lawmakers got a step closer to banning smoking at state parks and on beaches.

Speaker 1: 03:53 Under the proposal, violators would be find between 25 and $200 the band has come up and failed nearly a dozen times in the past 15 years and the assembly signed off on a bill that would pay people their full wages when they're out on family leave instead of the 60 to 70% they get. Now legislative analysts say this could cost the state hundreds of millions of dollars, but some lawmakers say it's crucial for low income workers in Sacramento. I'm Sami Kayla, the number of asylum seekers at the US Mexico border could be much higher than previously reported. That's according to a new analysis from UC San Diego KPBS science and technology reporter Shalina. Celani has details. The new number is about 19,000 asylum seekers, 5,000 higher than current estimates. Researchers from UC San Diego and the University of Texas at Austin say they came up with the higher count by looking at more border cities. So Vietri Rv is one of the lead researchers on their report.

Speaker 1: 04:53 There's only about 4,000 people who can stay in shelters in those 13 cities. So that leaves almost 15,000 asylum seekers without space in shelter. So it's just put a huge strain on civil society. And RV says she expects the number to go up in the coming months. Shalina shut. Lonnie KPBS news utility crews from around the country are volunteering their time to install electricity on the Navajo nation. Many Navajos today live without lights running water. And the Internet things most anyone takes for granted. So getting hooked up to the grid can be a life changing event from Kj is easiest for Ontario's desk in Flagstaff, Arizona. Laurel Morales reports Nida. Billy has been waiting to turn on lights in her home for 15 years. We've, we've been living off their loads per pain lanterns. Did you ever think this day would come?

Speaker 4: 05:52 Not really. Now we can. You don't have to have flashlights everywhere. All the kids have a fash light. So when they get up in the middle of night late to use the restroom, they have a fash light to go to. And yes,

Speaker 1: 06:07 Billy, her husband and their five kids live in a tiny one room. Hogan, a traditional Navajo home. They're three sheep graze on sage brush the carpets, the rolling hills of del Conn. They watched two men in a cherry picker hookup the last wire to their home. Billy says they've gone through too many generation

Speaker 4: 06:27 to count by two boys. They have really bad allergies and they have asthma. So sometimes the, the, the nebulizer. So we usually go to my mom's house. Let's travel in the middle of the night over there, back and forth.

Speaker 1: 06:41 The billys are not alone. About one in 10 Navajos live without electricity. And as many as 40% of the tribe has to hold their water and use outhouses. A poll of rural Americans conducted by NPR, the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and the Harvard th Chan School of public health found more than a quarter of native Americans have experienced problems with electricity, water, and the Internet. Northern Arizona University, Professor Manley Bigay, who's never ho says the numbers are probably even higher. The gay says electricity provides more than just light.

Speaker 6: 07:14 Electricity itself provides a tremendous amount of convenience and having access to, to the world at large. You could just imagine if you were to fill out an application for a job, uh, you know, you do it online and you send it in, you know, or you're googling for information and, and if you don't have electricity, you're, you're, you're in trouble.

Speaker 1: 07:36 The case says, he recently saw something strange when he pulled into a hotel parking lot in window rock, the capital of the Navajo nation. He noticed a bunch of teenagers in their cars.

Speaker 6: 07:45 You could tell that they were high school students and so they were doing their homework outside of this hotel and where the parking lot and they had the light on in their cars and do their homework, you know, and it became quite clear that they didn't have the internet

Speaker 1: 07:58 outside the Billy his home the couple of weeks patiently for the crew to finish the job. Brian Cooper from P and m electric has an update,

Speaker 4: 08:05 so we're just waiting on him to energize that one. Or is your power. Can't wait to see the real smile here. Z. Don't cover it up. I want to see it. That's what joy looks like. Right?

Speaker 1: 08:17 Cooper traveled from Santa Fe to install electricity. The utility also plans to donate a refrigerator to the abilities p and m along with several other crews from around the country are volunteering their time to connect people to the power grid and the Navajo nation. The homes are so spread out, it costs on average $40,000 to hook up one home to the grid and half the tribe is unemployed. So you can't raise rates to energize all those homes. The Navajo Tribal Utility Authority and the nonprofit American Public Power Association have put a call out to utilities across the country to help.

Speaker 4: 08:52 No, I had no idea that, you know, it was still in

Speaker 1: 08:56 2019 without power. Finally, after waiting for so many years, the Billy is watched the foreman turn on the meter behind their house and snap the cover shot Nita than runs inside to flip the switch.

Speaker 7: 09:08 And so to finally have electricity here after so many years without it, my kids are going to be so happy. You keep asking that we day. Okay. There you go, mom. We're going to have light. We can finally out like

Speaker 1: 09:25 now the family will wait and pray for running water in the Internet. I'm Laurel Morales in Flagstaff, in board and care homes across California employees caring for elderly residents are being exploited according to a new investigation. By reveal. Many workers are being treated like in Digerad servants making just about three 50 an hour working 24 seven the investigation found at least 20 companies are operating illegally after failing to pay employees back wages and penalties in the amount of $1 million mid day edition. Host jade Hindman talks about this investigation with the reporter who wrote the story for reveal Jennifer Golan. Across the US there are about 29,000 residential care communities that care for the elderly and two thirds of them are the small board and care homes and they are typically six to 10 residents. And in California they're often six beds or fewer. And so why are so many of these homes opening up by 2034 for the first time in us history, seniors will outnumber children and we're all looking for a place to put mom and dad and these places provide around the clock care and help with daily tasks like bathing and feeding and dressing.

Speaker 1: 10:53 And what are people who work in these homes experiencing? Well, we've talked to dozens of caregivers and they're, these caregivers are often earning just two to three 50 an hour to work around the clock for years on end. And we just found that there is rampant wage theft and exploitation. And why is it so easy for employees to be exploited in this position? Well, many of these caregivers are poor immigrants and some of them are unauthorized to work in the u s they are undocumented and they're afraid they're afraid of being fired. If they complain about low wages, they're afraid of being reported to immigration authorities. And operators have often also threatened to close down the facilities all together putting them out of a job. And what's the requirement from the state for these board and care homes to get, keep a license to operate?

Speaker 1: 11:55 Well the requirements to get into the business are very low and that's part of the problem. Um, there are many entrepreneurs who are jumping into the real estate end of the business thinking that they can make a big profit. And unfortunately the requirements to become an operator are very weak. And it, you know, you just require 80 hours of training in California and there's an open book exam of a hundred questions and then you can be qualified to open your own residential care facility. And part of the problem is these residential care facilities are nonmedical. So the operators and the caregivers do not need to be nurses or doctors or even nursing assistance to open these facilities. And, you know, we know that it's the, the cost of, of taking care of our parents is it can be expensive. Um, what is the cost for these facilities?

Speaker 1: 12:58 They're typically cheaper than nursing homes, which is why they're so attractive. They, the median cost for residential care facilities across the US is about $4,000 a month. So if you're an operator, you can actually make quite a bit of money. If you have six beds, you can make a quarter of a million dollars a year. Um, and for residents, they're really attractive because they are often cheaper than nursing homes. And we all know that nursing homes have had problems with, um, patient care and they've, there've been some bad headlines. So this residential care industry has grown, you know, um, in the shadow of this larger nursing home industry, I've been speaking with Jennifer Gollan, a reporter with reveal. Jennifer, thanks so much for joining us. Thank you, Jane. Thanks for listening to San Diego News matters yet more KPB as podcasts at k pbs.org/podcasts.

San Diego News Matters podcast branding

San Diego News Matters

KPBS' daily news podcast covering local politics, education, health, environment, the border and more. New episodes are ready weekday mornings so you can listen on your morning commute.