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

The COVID-19 Triple Whammy

Cover image for podcast episode

PHOTO BY NICHOLAS MCVICKER

Above: People board an MTS bus in National City, Aug. 8, 2020.

Two recent reports show that predominantly Black and Latino neighborhoods in San Diego County not only have the highest COVID-19 infection rates and are hardest hit by unemployment, but also experience a significant gap in access to testing. Plus: San Diego County health officials reported 182 new COVID-19 infections Tuesday, the City of San Diego is about to crack down on large gatherings of people at Ocean Beach and more local news you need.

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San Diego County health officials reported 182 new COVID-19 infections Tuesday.

That’s the first time that fewer than 200 new cases have been reported since June 22.

But it wasn’t all good news yesterday...eight coronavirus fatalities were reported, raising the death toll to 602.

Meanwhile, Supervisor Nathan Fletcher said the county's partnerships with its 18 incorporated communities is allowing law enforcement to step up efforts to punish egregious violators of public health orders.

A visit from county staff is the first action used, followed by a cease and desist order and then an order to close.

If a business refuses to close after that order it will be cited and fined $1,000. Fletcher said that’s what happened to a gym in University Heights that’s been refusing to stop indoor operations.

so we will continue to work, to use every enforcement tool and mechanism we have, uh, working with the cities, uh, because we have to do that, uh, to try and gain compliance for those entities that are egregiously, blatantly and willfully violating the public health orders. And this is not out of a desire to be punitive, but out of a realization that for our region to get where we need to get, we have to have widespread compliance with the public health orders. And that's what will allow businesses to open.

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Joe Biden named California Sen. Kamala Harris as his running mate on Tuesday, making history by selecting the first Black woman to compete on a major party’s presidential ticket.

The move is widely viewed as an acknowledgement of the vital role Black voters will play in his bid to defeat President Donald Trump.

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California began adding additional coronavirus cases to its public record yesterday a week after state officials acknowledged a data problem in late July had caused nearly 300,000 records not to appear in its health system.

A spokeswoman for the California Department of Public Health said the data was still being processed and she could not say when reporting dates and positivity rates would be updated.

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From KPBS, I’m Kinsee Morlan and you’re listening to San Diego News Matters, a podcast powered by our reporters, producers and editors.

It’s Wednesday, August 12.

And a quick announcement...Very soon, I will no longer be the host and producer of this show. My colleague Anica Colbert, who you’ve heard filling in for me in the past, is taking the helm.

You can keep up with me and the work I’m doing by subscribing to the border podcast I produce. It’s called Only Here and you can find out more about it at kpbs dot org slash only here. And you can always reach me by calling or texting our podcast number…. (619) 452-0228‬. So don’t be a stranger.

Now..stay with me for more of the local news you need.

The City of San Diego is about to crack down on large gatherings of people at Ocean Beach. OB residents and businesses have been complaining for weeks that people aren't wearing masks and they're not physically distancing.

KPBS reporter John Carroll has more.
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As bystanders at Ocean Beach's Veterans Park heckled her, City Council member Jenn Campbell did not mince words. OB is in her district, so she's been getting an earful from OB residents and businesses about the Wednesday night drum circles.

"Right now, people who come here with no masks, with no distancing, are being irresponsible and they could get sick, deathly sick and die."

The city put up an orange plastic fence Tuesday morning around the area where the drum circles happen, but by the afternoon, it had been torn down. City officials say they'll be joined by their counterparts from the County on Wednesday night to educate people about violating health regulations. If that doesn't work, arrests could follow.

Two recent reports show that predominantly Black and Latino neighborhoods in San Diego County have been hit with a COVID triple whammy.

KPBS reporter Claire Trageser says they not only have the highest infection rates and are hardest hit by unemployment, but also experience a significant gap in access to COVID-19 testing.

Broll of testing site
One report shows that among large metro areas nationwide, San Diego has one of the largest gaps in COVID-19 testing access for white and nonwhite neighborhoods.

GRAPHIC
Testing Sites Compared to Majority-White Census Blocks
Majority-Hispanic Census blocks: 9% Busier
Majority-Black Census block groups: 28 percent busier
Source: Analysis of Castlight Health data by ABC News & FiveThirtyEight

Instead of the graphic, if you can use broll of the testing site by Market Creek Plaza, that would be even better.

It found, for example, that testing sites in majority-Black areas were estimated to be 28% busier than majority-white areas.

Zip code broll
Another report found the zip codes with both the highest number of COVID cases and the highest unemployment rates are in areas where more Black and Hispanic people live. The 91911 zip code in Chula Vista had the most unemployment and COVID infections, followed by 91932 in Imperial Beach and then by 91950 in National City.

Ray Major
SANDAG Chief Economist
00:06:43:17
"That's the double whammy of this crisis right now."

Ray Major is SANDAG's chief economist and author of the report.

SOT con't
"And there's a community that is disproportionately hit, and that is the minority community here in San Diego."

NAT POP 11;17;06;07
"It's a call to action to all of us to do better."

Nancy Maldonado, the CEO of The Chicano Federation, says she is not surprised by the numbers, but called them heartbreaking.

SOT con't
"It's there, it's in the data, it's in the numbers and I think collectively we all need to do better."

The county recently rolled out a program using community health workers known as "promotoras" to give Latino people a trusted source of information. Community groups are also getting county funding to set up a community resource center.
https://www.countynewscenter.com/promotoras-working-in-latino-communities-to-prevent-spread-of-covid-1/

Maldonado says these are all steps in the right direction, but she wishes they had been done earlier.

SOT 11;16;16;06
"We need all hands on deck to get these infection rates down, we need all hands on deck to make sure we bring the death rate down, and we need all hands on deck to make sure that all communities have the resources and the referrals and the help they need right now."

And that story from KPBS investigative reporter Claire Trageser.

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The Navy has set an ambitious timeframe to look at systemic racism in the service.

KPBS Military reporter Steve Walsh has the story.

In the wake of the killing of George Floyd by Minneapolis police, the Pentagon announced a series of efforts to look at racial bias. July 1, the Navy created a 20 member committee headed by Rear Adm. Alvin Holsey. They have held listening sessions around the country.

ONE NAVY 2A
"We're listening to sailors. Everything that they feed to us. They've come up with some really good ideas. We're taking it in and we're going to put it out there."

The group is looking at everything from bias in promotions to disparities in enforcing military justice. The Navy also adding sexism and discrimination based on religion. All of this for a report due by mid-December. The Navy expects to add a listening session in San Diego, before the report is final.

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Bike advocates in San Diego are celebrating a legal victory for a proposal to put new bike lanes on a major street in North Park.

KPBS metro reporter Andrew Bowen says the project could be built very soon.
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AB: San Diego is in the midst of replacing a water main underneath 30th Street. When the project is done and the street is repaved, the city plans on removing some of the street parking to create protected bike lanes. Last year a group called Save 30th Street Parking sued to stop the project. But a judge this week said construction of the bike lanes could go on while the lawsuit continues. Opponents say the loss of parking spots will hurt local businesses. Supporters say the bike lanes will help business by making one of North Park's main commercial streets safer and more comfortable for cyclists. The city says the new bike lanes could be in place as soon as next month.

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Coming up…

A new book about Trump Adviser Stephen Miller is out...it’s called hatemonger and its by a San Diego author and former KPBS reporter.

That story after the break.

A new book makes the case that President Trump's advisor Stephen Miller has realized his life-long ambition to limit immigration and diversity in America by working in the White House.

And it reveals, through reporting and email correspondence, the close ties between Trump's anti- immigration rhetoric and Miller's connections with members of the right-wing media.

Former KPBS Border reporter Jean Guerrero is author of the new book, HATEMONGER: Stephen Miller, Donald Trump and the White Nationalist agenda. She talked with KPBS Midday Edition host Maureen Cavanaugh.

Now, one of the things that got you interested in writing this book is the fact that you and Steven Miller.

Have some things in common. Tell us about that. I first became really fascinated by the story of Stephen Miller. When I realized that he grew up in Southern California at the same time that I did, I'm just a couple of years younger than him and grew up in San Diego, a couple of hours, South of where he grew up in Santa Monica, California.

And this was during the nineties when you know, California, With seeing this unprecedented anti-immigrant hostility, you had governor Pete Wilson, uh, talking about the migrant invasion and, and, you know, blaming all of the state's fiscal problems on migrants. And there were unprecedented attacks on bilingual education and on social services for children of undocumented migrants on affirmative action.

There was just. A lot of hostility against immigrants. And so I, I realized that I haven't grown up in that same environment. And as a, as a kid, having internalized some of that same, you know, white supremacy and internalized racism, there was a lot of shame associated with being Mexican in California at the time, until that, you know, until there was a huge mobilization of the Latin X community.

And, and we saw, you know, people starting to really embrace diversity and in California became. A deeply blue state, but I thought that I could bring a unique perspective having grown up in the same environment as Steven Miller and also having, you know, covered, uh, the immigration issue from day one of the Trump administration and, and you know, the, the human cost of his policies.

So beyond that general context, were you able to find out why Miller's aversion toward immigrants began, especially Mexican immigrants? Yeah. I mean, I truly see Stephen Miller as a case study in radicalization, in my book, hate monger. I trace what happens when someone is consumed by an extremist ideology at a very young age and, and ends up the most powerful adviser.

In the white house, you know, for my reporting, I found that from the time that he was a teenager, Stephen Miller, uh, was, was being exposed to white supremacist and white nationalist literature through his mentor. David Horowitz, a conservative writer who Stephen Miller met through his high school. And David Horowitz introduced Stephen Miller to this.

Fantasy that he had to save the United, right? The States from certain destruction in the form of multiculturalism. So yeah, the idea that too many Brown and black people in the United States poses an existential threat to civilization, as we know it and, and, you know, introducing him to white supremacist literature that paints Brown and black people as more innately, violent than white people.

And, you know, so Horwitz becomes like a father figure to Stephen Miller during a very. You know, vulnerable time and Steven Miller's life, he had, his family had just had to move from a very affluent part of Santa Monica to a less affluent part. And, you know, he had to start at a very diverse public high school instead of, you know, a wider private high school that he would have attended otherwise.

And. This is when you see Stephen Miller start to really express his racist viewpoints very early age, you know, breaking up with a Mexican friend because of his Latino heritage, going to school board meetings to argue against measures, to improve racial equity, you know, just very passionately going around his school and tell him, telling his Mexican classmates to speak English and to go back to their countries.

If they can't learn the American way. And this is. Really from my reporting and the Boca, I believe it is a result of his relationships with people liked it. Yeah. But Horowitz who found Stephen Miller at this very young and vulnerable age and. You know, for the book I obtained private correspondence between Horowitz.

Yeah. And Stephen Miller showing Horowitz, you know, shaping his career, getting him his first jobs in Congress, and then eventually dictating Trump's rhetoric and policies directly through Miller. This is a man who believes that the only real racism is racism against whites and with his help Miller learned how to launder.

White supremacist ideas through the language of heritage and the language of economics and the language of national security in order to make it palatable to the mainstream. Now, as you write, and as you just mentioned, Miller went on to work in government, notably for anti-immigration activists, then Senator Jeff sessions, but apparently.

It was hearing candidate, Donald Trump that really set fire to Steven Miller's political ambitions. What were you able to find out about how these two men have bombed? Stephen Miller is the longest lasting advisor in the white house, outside of the president's family. And this is because Stephen Miller gets Donald Trump.

So part of Stephen Miller's relationship with Trump has to do with the fact that they grew up in very similar families. And the other thing about Stephen Miller is, is he played a key role in, you know, once he joined, once he convinced Trump to hire him on the campaign, he played a key role in, in Trump's popularity.

Um, you know, initially Trump's only proposal for immigration was the border wall and immigration restrictionist. Hard-liners. Who had been following the immigration issue for a long time, kind of rolled their eyes at that. They knew that there's, you know, hundreds of border barriers already, and they've done very little to stop immigration overall, which is what a lot of restrictionist want.

And so it wasn't until Steven Miller came onto the campaign and started pulling policies directly from think tanks that were funded by white supremacists who believe. In population control for nonwhite people that people really started to take Trump seriously, as someone who was serious about limiting legal immigration as well, which has been Stephen Miller's obsession.

And the final thing I'll say about their relationship is Stephen Miller. Consistently pushes Trump in the most aggressive direction when it comes to his rhetoric, you know, saying the most incendiary things possible, things like far left fascism, an unhinged left wing mob, uh, demonizing immigrants. And as far as immigration policies and Trump.

Appreciates this harshness because he wants to be seen as, as a killer. You know, Trump's repeatedly said this. He, he, he, he wants to be seen as, as a killer and Stephen Miller. Shares Trump's instincts for violence and has his hands on the pulse of his most violent voting base because of his familiarity with white supremacist and white nationalist literature.

Um, and Trump has found that whenever he listens to a more moderate advisor, he ends up getting ridiculed as weak. So he he's found that whenever he listens to Stephen Miller, his, his really hardcore base is satisfied. Now, during the writing of hate monger, I understand that you were not able to speak with Stephen Miller or interview him, but if you had, what would you have asked him?

The first question that I would ask him. And I've just been, you know, thinking about for a while now is I'd want to know what Stephen Miller thinks about. His grandmother, Ruth Glasser's, you know, her document that she left for him, which I talk about in the book. She, she spent her retirement investigating the family history and recording it so that her grandchildren would never forget.

The value of people who come to this country with nothing but the clothes on their back and, you know, speaking no English, the way that Stephen Miller, his great grandparents came to this country from Eastern Europe as Jewish refugees, fleeing persecution, she, she wanted, she stood up or the importance of remembering.

And I would love to know what Stephen Miller thinks about, you know, Ruth and, and, and what she stood for because clearly he, these lessons that she tried to immortalize for him, he, he directly, he ignored it. And in fact, assaulted these ideas throughout his life. Now some might see Eugene as a Latina reporter, eager to write a hit piece on anti-immigration Stephen Miller, even the title of the book hate monger might seem over the top.

How do you respond to that kind of criticism? You know, I, I approached the writing of this book with a completely open mind, you know, in part, because a part of me, you know, empathized with the young Steven Miller who. Who had internalized this white supremacy that was so pervasive in the culture when we were growing up in California.

Um, you know, my mom used to tell me you're you're American. You're not Mexican. You're not Puerto Rican. You're American. And it's because of the discrimination that she faced as a Puerto Rican woman with her accent. And she wanted me to feel a sense of belonging and to be seen as belonging. And so I, I understand Stephen Miller in his desire to be seen as American with all of the privileges that that is supposed to guarantee.

The problem is that Stephen Miller sounds the same today as he did at the age of 16. And I T I truly believe, you know, from having interviewed more than a hundred people who knew Stephen Miller and, you know, gone through hundreds of pages of documents, including private correspondence, this is much bigger than the immigration issue.

And whether you care about the Latin American community or not, Stephen Miller is a public relations flack, and Idealog who at the age of 31, without any policy experience was put in charge of policies for the United States, just, you know, despite that lack of experience and from day one of his time in the white house.

Really focused on narrowing narrowing agenda of the department of Homeland security from its broad mandate to protect the American people from everything, from terrorism to the, you know, public health crises into something that was laser focused on. On re-engineering the demographics into this country and targeting mostly people who had not broken any laws, asylum seekers, you know, obliterating the asylum system at the us Mexico border slashing refugee admissions to new historical every year.

So this has been about families, not criminals and cartels, but regardless of whether you care about these families, You know, Stephen Miller repeatedly disregarded the input of national security experts to push through his white nationalist agenda. And from my conversations with white house officials for the book, as they say that as a result of this Americans have been left vulnerable to a range of real threats.

Including the pandemic that we see today, instead of being focused on distributing masks and medical equipment, the administration has been focused on suspending green cards, you know, scapegoating immigrants for the job situation, uh, you know, shutting down the us Mexico border targeting international students.

It's, you know, it's been really focused on Stephen Miller's demonization and white nationalist agenda rather than on protecting the American people. Well for everyone who's heard and admired your reporting over the years at KPBS. Jean. Congratulations on the book. Thank you so much, Maureen.

That was investigative reporter Jean Guerrero, author of Hatemonger, talking with Midday Editions’ Maureen Cavanaugh. Hear interviews like this one by looking for Midday Edition wherever you listen to podcast.

That’s all for this podcast. Thanks for listening.

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San Diego News Matters

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