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LATEST UPDATES: Racial Justice | Tracking COVID-19 (coronavirus)

COVID-19 Numbers Up Among The Youngs

Cover image for podcast episode

PHOTO BY ALEXANDER NGUYEN

Above: Patrons sitting outside in front of El Chingon on June 20, 2020, the first weekend Fifth Avenue was closed in the Gaslamp Quarters to allow for customers to patronize restaurants and maintain physical distancing during the coronavirus pandemic.

The number of COVID cases in San Diego continues to rise in people between the ages of 20 and 49, Especially for people in their 20s. Plus: problems inside one San Diego memory care facility, safe-as-possible camping in California during the pandemic and more local news you need.

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The number of COVID cases in San Diego continues to rise in people between the ages of 20 and 49….Especially for people in their 20s...
The numbers are prompting county health officials to make more of an effort at educating younger people about the dangers of coronavirus.
Dr. Scott Eisman of Scripps Memorial Hospital in Encinitas took to the podium at the county press conference yesterday to remind young, healthy people that they are still at risk of getting very ill from the virus...and potentially for a long time.

it's certainly true that, the mortality rate for. Those that are younger is lower than those that are older, but it's also true that the mortality rate is not zero. I know many younger people think that this is something that, you know, you'll get and you'll overcome and everything will be fine. But complications of this illness are far greater. They're much longer lasting. And they're far more serious.
Eisman said in studies following SARS and MERS outbreaks — two other coronaviruses — people who had the disease and showed symptoms sometimes didn't regain original lung capacity until a year or longer after the symptoms began.
The doctor also said heart attacks, strokes and serious blood clots were increasing among younger people confirmed to have COVID-19.
A total of 58% of those confirmed to have COVID-19 in the county fall between the ages of 20 and 49.
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The Del Mar Thoroughbred Club announced Wednesday the cancellation of this weekend's racing program after 15 jockeys recently tested positive for COVID-19.
The move was made out of an abundance of caution, according to the club. The 81st summer meet is slated to resume July 24, with many of this weekend's scheduled races to be shifted to the following weekend.
Racing officials say testing was ordered for all jockeys and jockey room personnel after two jockeys recently tested positive.
Officials said the jockeys who tested positive are believed to be asymptomatic.
The Del Mar season opened last Friday without fans in the stands due to the pandemic. Racing officials also instituted a number of health and safety measures aimed at preventing any potential spread of the virus.
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The Poway City Council has approved the temporary use of public parks for local fitness groups and worship activities in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.
on Wednesday, the council unanimously directed city staff to prepare applications for groups to use open space in the city's parks free of charge and with minimal paperwork.
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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 Thursday, July 16.
Stay with me for more of the local news you need.

The surge in new coronavirus infections continues in San Diego County.

KPBS Health Reporter Tarryn Mento says the county reported Wednesday another 559 people tested positive.

The county is already well below its goal to quickly investigate confirmed cases.

The county has reported more than 1,000 in just the past two days -- that's about the total reported over a week back in mid June. The uptick makes it difficult for county employees to look into each case.

Staff began investigating only 46% of cases within a day of notification when the goal is to be above 70%.

Public Health Officer Dr. Wilma Wooten says the county is looking to hire more staff and people are responding.

(:16) "After only three hours we had over 300 applications received so we anticipate that bringing on onboarding and training these staff that are hired will improve this particular trigger."

She says infections are growing primarily among young adults.

***

The surge in coronavirus cases is prompting health officials to re-evaluate who should be able to get a test. California officials put out new guidelines on Tuesday.

CapRadio's Nicole Nixon reports.

At the beginning of this crisis, precious limited test kits were strictly reserved for people who had symptoms of COVID-19 or who'd had close contact with someone who tested positive.
Even though more than 100-thousand Californians are now getting tested every day, those rules are reappearing because some communities are running out of tests. Some people have complained about waiting too long for results.
Dr. David Lubarsky is CEO of UC Davis Health. He's been calling for a more targeted testing strategy.
LUBARSKY: We're testing a lot of the "worried-well" around the state. What we really need to be doing is focusing our testing on those people who really need it. <<:09>>
Now, the state will prioritize tests for hospitalized patients, people who have COVID-19 symptoms, frontline workers and other at-risk groups.
Health and Human Services Secretary Dr. Mark Ghaly is also trying to get more health providers to conduct tests in their offices.
GHALY: Together, that will support a broader set of people having access to testing when they're symptomatic, when they've been exposed [Notes:and] when they've been at risk of being part of an outbreak. <<:12>>
Ghaly hopes that will free up space at community testing sites around California for underserved populations, who are being hit disproportionately hard by the virus.

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The San Diego City Council Public Safety Committee WEDNESDAY approved a proposed law aimed at regulating the city's use of surveillance technology.

KPBS metro reporter Andrew Bowen has more.

AB: Calls for the ordinance were amplified after San Diego police began accessing video from the city's so-called "smart streetlights" without independent oversight. The proposed ordinance would require that the City Council sign off on how police or other city departments will use surveillance technology before it is acquired. Public safety committee chair Monica Montgomery says governments have failed to keep up with advancements in that technology.

MM: Without oversight these powerful technologies can be misused and abused. We see the benefits of the lights for crime solving purposes, but the city has not been honest in the past about how certain departments are using these lights and for what reason.

AB: The ordinance will now undergo legal review before being voted on by the full City Council.

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Mistakes, slow testing and poor care….These are some of the challenges local families encountered before their loved ones died of COVID-19.

Inewsource investigative reporter Mary Plummer describes the problems inside one San Diego memory care facility.


Beverly Naibert is walking through her home, pointing out family pictures:

BEVERLY: That’s my father, and my sister and I and Paul, and his three grandchildren. That’s my father up there playing the drums.

Her father, Lynn Naibert, had dementia. Beverly moved back into her childhood home here in Bay Park to care for him a few years ago.

But in April, he died, not of dementia, but of COVID-19. He was 83 years old.

The story of what led to his death starts back in January.

As dementia progressed, Lynn started staying up during the night. Beverly and her siblings decided to move him into assisted living at a place called Stellar Care, near El Cerrito.

It would be safer, they thought. It was staffed around the clock.

Beverly hoped it was the answer to her worries:

Speaker 3: (17:07)
BEVERLY: I thought, Oh my God, this place is beautiful. It's gorgeous. It's, it's like a hotel. It's, it's, it's a resort.

But it wasn’t what the family expected.

Lynn took multiple falls and soon, the facility recommended hospice care. The sudden decline surprised his children, who felt they had left him there in relatively good health.

Instead of transferring him to hospice at Stellar, in early April Beverly and her brother drove him to the hospital.

Lynn could barely walk. Here’s Beverly:

BEVERLY: So we took him out of there, and we took him up to UCSD in La Jolla, two days later, we found out he had COVID-19 and on the 20th of April, he died. It was that quick.

Beverly doesn’t know how or when he caught the virus.

The family had been visiting her dad often, but had to stop when the pandemic hit.

Beverly says the facility kept her in the dark about his worsening health.

Records Stellar Care provided to her show that his temperature wasn’t monitored and no evidence of the falls he took.

Beverly says the executive director told her residents taken to hospitals with COVID-19 symptoms were later returned to the facility.

Speaker 3: (20:19)
BEVERLY: I don't know how many people have died, all I know is that she was telling me that she’d sent people to the hospital because she knew they were sick and the hospitals were turning around and sending them back.

Stellar Care’s executive director declined our interview request, saying in an email it was inappropriate to comment on residents and their situations.

Since the start of the pandemic, more than 40% of deaths nationwide have been residents of nursing homes and other long-term care facilities.

State records show 13 residents at Stellar Care have contracted the virus.

Beverly is troubled by Stellar’s lack of communication. She says if she’d been told her dad would have been safer with her …. She would have picked him up and brought him home.

BEVERLY: Once we pulled my father out of there, we've heard nothing from Stellar. Not even, I'm sorry, that you've lost your father.

Back at her dad’s house, Beverly is surrounded by reminders. His dog who she now cares for. His favorite chair. And the music he so loved.

Lynn - a former teacher and school counselor, also played the drums, the trombone and the clarinet.

SCENE: BEVERLY: Yeah, I’ve pulled out a lot of his records. .. I usually listen to Chicago a lot though, because we both loved it.

SCENE: MUSIC PLAYS, BEVERLY: This was my dad. MUSIC PLAYS

Beverly’s hand goes to her heart. The memories flood back.

BEVERLY: God MUSIC CONTINUES

And that was Mary Plummer with inewsource.. This story was co-reported by inewsource reporter Roxana Popescu (RoxANa POPPAskew). inewsource is an independently funded, nonprofit partner of KPBS.
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Coming up after a short break….camping...it seems like an OK thing to do during the pandemic, but how can we make it as safe as possible?

Stay with us.

Californians love the outdoors and even more so with the pandemic.

Camping and backpacking are considered relatively low risk activities when it comes to COVID-19. But how should people get into nature responsibly as the threat grows?

CapRadio's Ezra David Romero is figuring that out.

[Notes:AMBI 1] hiking/walking sounds

Fed-up with working from home my colleague Emily Zentner and I went on a backpacking trip Fourth of July weekend.

[Notes:ROMERO 1] "My buddies and I named that mountain over there Mt. Doom and on the entire hike you can see it."

Mount Doom is actually a range called the Sierra Buttes. We started at Grouse Ridge in the Tahoe National Forest and hiked past a dozen lakes to our final destination: Penner Lake. It's about four miles.

[Notes:ROMERO 2] Zentner - "The sunset is beautiful. See these are the lake's we're going to."

Along the way we kept hearing an owl.

AMBI 2 - OWLS "Do it again owl…" Hoots

The wilderness was packed. Partly because it was the fourth of July weekend, but also because people are tired of being indoors. But how safe is it to backpack or camp during a pandemic?

[Notes:WORTHEN 1] "If you're hiking with people who you aren't in a household with and you're close enough that you can easily talk with each other quietly, then you probably are close enough that you can be spreading droplets."

Miranda Worthen is an epidemiologist. She studies the intersection of health and recreation at San Jose State. When going outdoors it's good to weigh how much risk you're willing to take. She says to go outdoors only with people you've mutually chosen to share risk with.

That still means staying at least six feet away from each other and having a mask handy.

[Notes:WORTHEN 2] "You're only as risk free as the least cautious person in that bubble."

When people camp or backpack they usually have to drive a distance to a trailhead. Alyson Wright with REI suggests gassing up in your own community and packing your own meals instead of stopping along the way.

[Notes:WRIGHT 1] "It's just out of my comfort. I can pack my own lunch. Small changes in our behavior can help us lower our risk."

This is about protecting the communities you enter. She also says to reevaluate the type outdoor activity you're contemplating this year.

[Notes:WRIGHT 2] "Instead of hiking a strenuous hike or instead of going on a 5.10 route rock climbing take a more moderate approach."

One more thing. She says to have options in mind. For example, if your first hike looks packed go to your second or third option. Also, have a map or download an app like All Trails on your phone.

Worthen, the epidemiologist from San Jose State, says it's just not that smart to be around a lot of people during the pandemic.

[Notes:WORTHEN 3] "If you're kind of all clustered around the campfire at night, and there's not much of a wind, and you're laughing and singing camp songs, and you're sitting there for two hours, that's a risky behavior."

But she also points out that being in nature is restorative, although there is no real safe recreation.

[Notes:WORTHEN 4] "We have to make trade-offs and I fully support people doing safer recreation especially if you or people in your household are feeling a lot of distress."

[Notes:AMBI] Hiking sounds come in here

Back in the Tahoe National Forest, Emily Zentner and I are climbing back up the ridge.

[Notes:ROMERO] "Woo, we did it. Made it to the top. You can see where we went too. That's the lake we camped at.

For me the trip was definitely what I needed to destress from all the news and the worries in the world right now.

And that’s CapRadio's Ezra David Romero reporting from Sacramento.

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