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LATEST UPDATES: Tracking COVID-19 (coronavirus)

California’s Plan To Buy Millions of Masks

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Saying, "We need to go boldly. We need to not play small ball,” California Gov. Gavin Newsom said on Wednesday he will be asking state legislators to spend up to $1.4 billion to secure a monthly supply of personal protective equipment to protect California healthcare workers and other essential personnel on the COVID-19 frontlines. Also in today’s San Diego News Mattes podcast: Easter virtual-style, a call for plasma from those who've recovered from COVID-19, a Chula Vista Councilmember’s personal battle with the coronavirus and more local news you need.

ANZA NAT

Every year for the past few years, my family has celebrated Easter by camping in Anza-Borrego Desert State Park.

Our kids wake up at the crack of dawn and run across the sand, finding eggs under rocks and between the sage and scrub brush scattered across the desert floor.

But this year, egg hunts almost everywhere across the country will be cancelled -- or moved to the living room or back yard.

EASTER NAT

Passover and Easter celebrations will look differently for San Diegans this year.

The county is officially banning all public gatherings.

The ban is more of a formality because, of course, San Diegans have already been strongly urged to stay at home since last month.

Supervisor Greg Cox pleaded with the public to heed that order during the holidays and instead... observe your religious holidays… digitally.

WEDCOVID 2A
Whether its facebook twitter zoom instagram or another platform please go online and practice your faith, keep the faith but please keep it online.

Passover began last night and stretches through next week while Easter is on Sunday.

Lots of places of worship are offering virtual services.

And I know of at least a few local neighborhoods that are doing drive-by or walk-by easter egg hunts.

Participants are decorating large paper easter eggs and hanging them in their windows, then entering their locations on a map shared with their neighbors. People download the map and then set out on a scavenger hunt to see if they can spot all the eggs hanging in the windows.

Cute, right?

Beat

And for today’s local news headlines: San Diego Mayor Kevin Faulconer and county Supervisors Greg Cox and Nathan Fletcher announced a $25 million dollar commitment to behavioral health providers.

MAYOR CLIP
Every San Diegan knows, Mental illness and…...on our streets right now.

The mayor said the investment will help grow the services available for people struggling with mental illness and addiction.

Beat

California Gov. Gavin Newsom said on Wednesday that he will be asking state legislators to spend up to $1.4 billion to secure a monthly supply of personal protective equipment.

GOV_CLIP
We made a big bold bet...and it is bearing fruit.

The protective gear will supply the state’s healthcare workers and others on the COVID-19 frontlines.

The governor also talked about a program coming to California that will work to sterilize N95 masks so they can be safely reused.

BEAT

And the latest coronavirus count: On Tuesday, County public health officials reported 76 new cases of COVID-19 and five additional deaths, raising the total death count
to 36, with 1,530 confirmed cases.

San Diego County has seen 316 hospitalizations from the illness, 122
of which have gone into intensive care.

And there have been 247 estimated recoveries from COVID-19.

Beat

I’m Kinsee Morlan and you’re listening to San Diego News Matters.

It’s Thursday, April 9.

If you have a question about our region and the coronavirus, please call (619) 452-0228‬ and leave a voicemail. Or, if you have a story about how you’re staying connected through the coronavirus...creative pandemic pivots as I’ve started calling them, I want to hear those stories, too. Again, the number to call is 619-452-0228.

Stay with me for more of the local news you need.

MIDROLL 1 AD

The local blood supply remains stable, but now there's a call for plasma...especially from those who've recovered from COVID-19.

KPBS Reporter Matt Hoffman has more on how antibodies from those donors might help others with the virus.
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COVIDBLOOD 1

2:43.731 Dr. Mark Edmunds, San Diego Blood Bank Medical Director
We can treat the symptoms of the illness but we can't treat the illness itself with any medicines that exist

So Dr. Mark Edmunds with the San Diego blood bank says they want to collect blood plasma from those who have recovered from the virus.

1:23.043
They're now healthy but their body will continue to make antibodies against that virus

The idea is still experimental, but some studies have shown the antibodies could help those with the virus, and hospitals want to try it.

3:38.561
Hospitals are essentially asking for this product to be used as an investigational new drug for these patients
3:53.656
Right now it's the sickest patients that the hospitals are requesting this treatment for. They tend to be in the critical care unit

The local blood supply remains stable, but now there's a call for plasma...especially from those who've recovered from COVID-19. Some research has shown antibodies from those who've beaten the virus might help those who currently have it. The San Diego Blood Bank is putting out a call for plasma donations. Dr. Mark Edmunds with the blood bank says they're working with local hospitals who want to try the antibodies.

COVIDBLOOD 2A
Hospitals are essentially asking for this product to be used as an investigational new drug for these patients. Right now it's the sickest patients that the hospitals are requesting this treatment for. (:15)

County officials estimate there are 200 county residents who have recovered from the virus. The blood bank is expecting it's first plasma donation from a coronavirus survivor next week.

As with everything else in Balboa Park the San Diego Museum of Man has had to close to the public because of the coronavirus pandemic.

But last week the museum put out an open call to the community asking how the institution could be of use during the outbreak

KPBS arts reporter Beth Accomando explains.

MUSEUM 1 (ba) :54

San Diego Museum of Man states its mission as "inspiring human connections by exploring the human experience." Now that its doors are closed the museum is being creative about how to deliver on that mission says CEO Micah Parzen.

MICAH PARZEN: We have about sixty thousand square feet of space at the museum and we are certainly more than willing to make any or all of that space available… Back in World War II, the Navy actually took over the museum and several other institutions in the park or buildings in the park at that time and converted it into a hospital to care for the sick and the wounded.

That's not likely to happen now but Parzen says the museum could be a site for things like testing or food distribution. He's currently fielding ideas but also hopes the offer encourages others to think outside the box about how they can help.

As the confirmed case count rises, and the deaths mount, the economic toll is being felt everywhere.

In Chula Vista 350 part-time employees were laid off, as the coronavirus pummels city budgets.

City officials say about 100 of the employees hadn't worked any hours in 2020.

The rest of them averaged about 12 and a half hours per week, mostly working at city libraries, parks and rec centers.

David Bilby is Chula Vista's finance director.

He says with hotel and sales tax revenues drying up, city council members may be forced to lay off more city workers.

CHULAVISTA 2A
Every month the economy stays closed, we're going to lose close to 3 to 5 million dollars in revenues. And so they need to be aware of what types of impacts that would be and how we would balance the budget if we needed to.

The city expects to rehire as many of the laid off temporary workers as possible once public spaces can reopen.

And a Chula Vista Councilmember is now home from the hospital after testing positive for COVID-19 last month.

Just days after Steve Padilla’s diagnosis, his condition worsened, and he was admitted to the I-C-U and put on a ventilator.

Now, he's feeling better physically, but emotionally... he says it's been a journey.

On KPBS Midday edition yesterday, Councilmember Padilla talked about his experience and how he's moving forward.

STEVEPADILLA_MIDDAY
I rapidly, uh, was moving towards basically respiratory distress. It's having more and more difficulty breathing, higher spiking fevers and shakes and that are visiting the emergency room at UCSD and a couple of occasions.

And before you know it, I'm being admitted to the hospital and. Having conversations with my physicians about being intubated so that they could intervene pretty quickly in my case. And I think they're doing so frankly saved my life.

What they were telling me, uh, before we got to that point was that what they were seeing in ed 19 patients were that when they did get into distress, it happened very rapidly and I didn't, I think they didn't want to wait. Uh, to get to a point where, I was that critical.
when I was not oxygenating properly. Uh, they moved me to the ICU and talked about putting me on a ventilator pretty quickly so that, yo u know, my body could take all of its energy and fight a virus rather than trying to struggle to breathe. I feel very lucky because I think the great care that I received, I think it saved my life.

I think on a, on a personal and an emotional level, And that. Um, I can remember being the night they were going to move me out of the intensive care unit. I was waiting to be moved. Then I was watching a national network and they were reporting the story of a surgeon in New York who died in the arms of his husband, simply because he went to work to do his job and he got sick and he died.

And I saw other stories about. You know, the assistant principal who married his high school sweetheart and coached soccer and who was 42 years old and who was fine, got sick, ended up on a ventilator and never came home. So for me, I've really spent a lot of time reflecting on the fact that I got to get wheeled out of that hospital last week and that around this country, and even here in San Diego County, there are people who are never coming out.

And it's indiscriminate and it's random and it's vicious. And which is why I think we need to continue to take this extremely seriously. And in my case, I really have done a lot of reflecting about what that really means and what it should mean, uh, for me and for our community. You know, we're still not through this. This isn't just a public health crisis. It's an economic crisis. There's a lot of people who are hurting and scared.

Um, this is something none of us, I think I've ever lived through. Uh, I think the last pandemic was over a hundred years ago. So this is, this is new and it's scary, and this is a moment when people need to really be respectful of one another and to be there for one another.

Ok, for anyone who has gotten sick, speedy recovery.

For the rest of us, we have to fill our time... somehow.

Rubik's Cubes. I’ve never solved one. Ever.

So, I was stoked when San Diego writer Ryan Bradford posted a video of himself recently solving one. You can find the video on his twitter feed, he’s at theryanbradford.

No better time than a pandemic to finally sit down and learn how to do this thing...So I clicked play

Rubiks clip 1

So yeah, he made himself explode in the video before he showed me how to solve it. I was disappointed. But a few days later he came through and posted a video of himself solving a Rubik’s for realsies this time.

Rubiks clip 2

He solved it in under 2 minutes. It’s quite the sight.

Ryan, by the way, writes the always hilarious awkward SD newsletter. You can subscribe to it at awkwardsd dot substack.com/. You know what they say about laughter being medicine…

San Diego News Matters is powered by KPBS news reporters and editors. It was edited by Alisa Barba. Sound design by Emily Jankowski and produced and hosted by me, Kinsee Morlan. Do us a favor and send this podcast to someone you know who wants to stay connected to their community. Thanks.

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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.