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LATEST UPDATES: Tracking COVID-19 | Racial Justice | Election 2020

Crowds in OB Not Following COVID Rules

Cover image for podcast episode

Police speak with people in Ocean Beach, August 5, 2020.

10NEWS

People gathering for "drum circles" in Ocean Beach have not been wearing face coverings or practicing social distancing. Residents say they're fed up. And, arrest warrants have been issued for Jeffrey Brooks, 38, and Henry Brooks Jr., 32, for the alleged attacks on Marcus Boyd and a group of protesters on June 7. Plus, The San Diego Urban Corps works to clear brush in the urban San Diego canyons.

The San Diego city council on Thursday in a 5 to 4 vote rejected a motion to move forward with the terms of a multi-billion dollar energy franchise deal. The motion would have determined how the city would allow utilities to bid for the chance to serve the city's electricity and gas needs.

Councilmembers who voted no said they wanted to see amendments, like inclusion of a climate equity fund. City attorneys said they need time to review the request. Councilmember Vivian Moreno of District 8 said she's not going to wait.

SDGEBID :11
We've already been this through environment committee meeting where I asked staff to work with me on this and nothing was done so based on that I'm sorry I cannot vote yes on this motion.

The council will now have to consider this motion after a month long recess.

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While most students in California will have another semester of distance learning this fall, some younger kids could return to class in-person.
The state is allowing elementary schools to apply for waivers to bring students back to the classroom, even if the county is being monitored for elevated transmission of the coronavirus.
Outbreaks have been linked to summer camps and daycares in other states, but state Health Secretary Dr. Mark Ghaly [GAL-lee] says California won’t make the same mistakes.
GHALY: That’s why we studied them so closely. You see when activities are held indoors without face coverings, when activities that are much better done outdoors — no doubt are avoided at all —happen indoors, you see transmission. <<:15>>
Ghaly recommended keeping in-person learning to groups of eight students or smaller, but local health officials will have final say over elementary schools’ plans.

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Two men who attacked Black Lives Matter protesters in Imperial Beach are facing felony charges. 38-year old Jeffrey Brooks and a relative, 32-year old Henry Brooks are charged with felony assault and battery along with hate crime-related charges. Warrants have been issued for their arrest. Along with getting justice for those who were attacked, District Attorney Summer Stephan said she's also sending a message to the community about hate crimes.

"It kind of has a ripple effect of hurting everyone that shares that person's race, their religion, their ethnicity…"

The charges stem from a Black Lives Matter protest held on June 7th across from the pier in Imperial Beach. Video shows a man - Jeffrey Brooks - coming up behind Marcus Boyd and sucker punching him while Boyd was recording video. The hate crime allegations are because Boyd is African American. If convicted, Jeffrey Brooks faces up to three years in prison, Henry Brooks up to six years.

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I’m Anica Colbert, filling in for Kinsee Morlan.
Happy weekend eve, it’s Friday, August 7th. And you’re listening to San Diego News Matters from KPBS News. Stay with me for more of the local news you need to start your day.

Some residents in Ocean Beach are concerned about what they see as a lack of respect for COVId-19 guidelines by beach visitors. They say for weeks now, large groups have been partying on a small patch of grass by the OB Pier. KPBS reporter Matt Hoffman has our story.

The gatherings often include a drum circle.
00;06;54;22 Mark Winkie, Ocean Beach Town Council President
They haven't been practicing any social distancing or mask wearing at all which as you know has been mandated by the county and the community is quite frankly fed up with it
OB Town Council President Mark Winkie wrote a letter to county and city officials about the weekly gatherings, and on Wednesday night San Diego Police were at the scene. No COVID citations were issued. Still... A spokesperson says no one was cited for violating state or county health orders. The department is trying to find a solution that respects both sides.
00;08;04;17 Winkie
It was actually very well received in the community that they did come out and took care of the issue that's really the bandaid --
Councilmember Jen Campbell is hoping the OB mainstreet association who puts on the Wednesday farmers markets can work with the drum circle group to safely operate.. She says the crowds have gotten out of control. Matt Hoffman, KPBS News.

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California assembly members have joined forces to pass a first-of-its-kind bill for survivors of police brutality.

KPBS reporter Tania Thorne has this story.

Assembly Bill 767 is about getting money from the state's Victim Compensation Fund.
Right now crime victims, including victims of police brutality, have to file a police report to get any compensation.
But victims rights advocates say fear from the trauma prevents victims from filing police reports.
Tinisch Hollins is California director of the group Crime Survivors for Safety and Justice.
TINISCH HOLLINS/CRIME SURVIVORS FOR SAFETY AND JUSTICE
"No victim should have to fight for justice and fight for resources."
AB 767 will eliminate the police report requirement, and would allow other documentation to serve as evidence. Authors of the bill include San Diego Assemblywoman Shirley Weber.
They hope to have it in front of Governor Gavin Newsom by the end of this month. Tania Thorne, KPBS News.

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San Diegians living on the edge of the city’s canyons are getting some help preparing for wildfire season. The Urban [Core] is using a 150-thousand dollar grant from San Diego Gas and electric to help people clear defensible space near homes. The Urban [Core] member Daniel Johnson says the work is crucial as the weather heats up.

URBANCORPS 2A :16
10:05:43 -- 10:05:59 “We are looking to remove any extra brush. Any excess plant life that isn’t a specialty plant or anything like that. Any kind of excess flammable material we’re removing to create defensible space.”

94-year old Lucile Cheng says she’s grateful to get help clearing brush near the back of her home. She says she’ll sleep a little sounder knowing the risk of fire has been pared back.

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The pandemic has been a crushing blow for many small businesses across the country. Billions of dollars in loans and grants have been allocated under the Paycheck Protection Program to help them…but is the money getting to the right places?

Danny Fitzgerald is the acting regional director for San Diego and Imperial county's Small Business Development Center. He says the deadline to apply for one major source of money is this Saturday.

Fitzgerald says there's a lot of money left and, despite the tight deadline, and there’s still time to apply. He spoke with KPBS Midday Edition host Alison St. John, here’s that interview….

BIZLOANS (3:34)
"So now this week is the deadline for federal loans for some businesses, how much money remains to be distributed in San Diego….Thank you so much Danny. Thank you."

That was Danny Fitzgerald, Acting regional Director with San Diego and Imperial County's Small Business Development Center network, speaking with KPBS Midday Edition Host Alison St. John.

To learn more about how to apply for a Paycheck Protection Program Loan before Saturday's deadline, visit WWW DOT SBA DOT GOV

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Coming up... Testing for COVID-19 has been riddled with problems. But increasingly more western states are looking at sewage to help fill in some gaps.

CUT: "You can detect a lot of stuff in wastewater if you look."

How utilities are using wastewater to help track outbreaks. That’s next after this break.

Right now there is no good way to predict where the next potential coronavirus outbreak will be. So far, testing is reliant on nasal swabs and, in some cases, a long wait for the results. But many states in the west are looking to get a handle on the disease by diving into the sewers.

Luke Runyon from KUNC in Colorado has more.

(4:01) ...soq.
TRACK: Inside the wastewater treatment plant in Fort Collins, Colorado Jason Graham opens the door to a little plastic cabinet…
[Notes:NATS-machine whirring]
7 RUNYON: "Oh, it's taking a sample right now?"
GRAHAM: "Yeah."
TRACK: Graham is in charge of this facility. Even with our masks on, where we're standing the air is a little ... ripe… but nothing overwhelming. This is the city's biggest wastewater plant, able to treat up to 23 million gallons a day.
**5 RUNYON: "So this is the end of the sewer?"
GRAHAM: "Yeah. This is the end of the sewer."
TRACK: And throughout the day, a 5-gallon plastic jug in that cabinet slowly fills up with raw sewage. Or ... the three P's if you want to get technical.
**4 GRAHAM: "So poop, paper and pee."
TRACK: Around the world wastewater plants have become unlikely tools in the fight against COVID-19. Waste from more than 100,000 people flows into this plant every day ... and by sampling it a couple of times a week scientists are able to get a sense of whether it's spreading or on the retreat.
18 GRAHAM: "You can detect a lot of stuff in wastewater if you look and a lot of times people don't look. But if you look, you know, there's a lot there."
TRACK: Studies show people infected with the virus shed it in their stool ... often days before they start showing symptoms... if they feel sick at all.
14 GRAHAM: "You also pick up asymptomatic folks, you know that are at home, don't even know they have it."
TRACK: This facility is one of more than a dozen in the state that will soon be regularly testing sewage for the coronavirus. It's part of an emerging partnership among wastewater districts, the state, research universities and private biotech companies. Similar programs are already online at plants in Arizona, Utah, Nevada and California.
28 NASH: "We can get an idea of the level of infection within a community without having to swab everyone in the community."
TRACK: Rose Nash is a researcher at GT Molecular, which is one of the private companies working with Colorado. She says the most promising thing about this kind of testing is how it
can become an early warning system…
**26 NASH: "...the hospitals can prepare for that change in their ICU capacity."
TRACK: But there are limits to what wastewater can tell us. Susan DeLong is a civil engineering professor at Colorado State Univesity. She's part of a team that will be testing wastewater samples from across the state.
24 DELONG: "The best interpretation is going to come from trends because there is to date, we don't have an absolute correlation between the concentration in wastewater and the number of people that are sick."
TRACK: Meaning, at least for now, this testing will be almost like taking a whole city's temperature at once. From week to week ... Is it going up or down? Is it getting better or
worse?
27 DELONG: "So, we will be able to look at this data and say, 'OK, I feel good that my kids are gonna go to school today. Or you know what? There's a reason that we'll need to stay home again.' So there is a sense of power with knowledge."
TRACK: As the program evolves, DeLong says it's possible to detect more contained outbreaks. Like you could move the sampling machine upstream of a wastewater plant, and fill that platic jug from the sewage coming from a single hospital, a college dormitory, or a neighborhood.
32 PUTNAM: "Anything we can do to get it kind of early warning and a leg up on the problem is incredibly valuable from a public health perspective,"
TRACK: John Putnam is a director at the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment.
PUTNAM: "Especially given that the investment is relatively limited compared to individually testing tens of thousands or hundreds of thousands of people."
TRACK: But with all things COVID-19, Putnam says his department won't be jumping to conclusions early on.
33 PUTNAM: "This is a new virus. We're barely, you know, well over six months in. We'll know more in six months than we do now."
TRACK: Once the state's program is officially up and running, tests for all the participating wastewater utilities will take place twice a week over the next year.
Note: to cut off the reporter tag

This story from Luke Runyon in Fort Collins Colorado. It is part of ongoing coverage of water in the Western U.S., produced by public radio station K-U-N-C in Colorado and supported by a Walton Family Foundation grant.

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Melinda Leon's debut feature Song Without a Name is inspired by a child trafficking case uncovered by her journalist father, to whom she dedicates the film.
KPBS film critic Beth Accomando reviews the film that is now available through Digital Gym Cinema's D-G-C-at-Home virtual ticketing.

Song Without a Name is about stark contrasts between the haves and the have nots, those with power and those without a voice, and national issues versus personal tragedies.
CLIP Singing…
Fitting filmmaker Melinda Leon shoots her film in black and white to emphasize the dichotomies. She opens with newsreel images of political unrest in Peru in 1988 and then introduces us to Georgina, an indigenous Andean woman expecting her first child. Being poor she's lured by a radio ad offering free prenatal care at a clinic. But when she goes there to deliver, the infant is stolen.
CLIP Geogina pounding on door and screaming
The authorities refuse to help but Georgina finds a journalist who takes up her cause. Though rooted in a very real and harsh world the film is also luminously beautiful. Leon's film has a deep sadness at its core yet it does not abandon all hope for change. It's a haunting first feature that engages more as a visual poem than conventional narrative but it proves deeply affecting.

That was KPBS Film Critic Beth Accomando.

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