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

Outdoor Haircuts Okayed

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PHOTO BY MATTHEW BOWLER

Above: San Diego Mayor Faulconer announces an executive order to allow businesses to expand indoor operations to the outdoors, July 20, 2020.

The state now says barber shops and nail salons can reopen if operations are moved outside. Plus: Low-income San Diegans who have experienced financial hardships due to the COVID-19 pandemic can begin applying today for one-time emergency financial help to pay their rent, hiking San Diego County and more local news you need.

The state now says barber shops and nail salons can reopen if operations are moved outside. The state's new guidelines say these businesses can provide services under a tent or canopy, with face coverings required for employees and customers.. But no indoor services are allowed.

The new guidelines apply to counties on the state's COVID monitoring list which includes San Diego.

This change goes against California code that requires all barbering and cosmetology services to happen inside a licensed establishment. Governor Gavin Newsom says officials needed some time to figure out how to safely work around that.

Turns out without getting into too many details issues of chemicals and shampoos and perms it was more complicated partially related to local ordinances that were in place so we worked through that over the last number of days.

The new guidance applies to barbershops, hair salons and personal care businesses specializing in skin care, nail services and massage therapy. But tattooing and piercing services are not allowed. The state says those are invasive procedures requiring a controlled environment.

***
California's governing body for high school sports said Monday that the 2020-21 athletic seasons will begin no earlier than December.
The California Interscholastic Federation said the normal fall, winter and spring sports seasons will be condensed into two seasons.
The federation set time frames for most playoffs and championships. But will these games actually be played? That will depend upon decisions by state and local health authorities at the time.
California, of course, is currently seeing soaring rates of coronavirus cases, hospitalizations and deaths.
Some good sports news -- the Padres yesterday played at Petco Park for the first time in 2020. They played the Los Angeles Angels in an exhibition game, without anyone in the stands, and they will play more games later this week.
***
Low-income San Diegans who have experienced financial hardships due to the COVID-19 can begin applying today for one-time emergency financial help to pay their rent.

The program, which the San Diego Housing Commission is administering
for the city, will provide up to $4,000 per household to help eligible families
and individuals pay past-due and upcoming rent.

Online applications will be accepted through covidapplication dot sdhc dot org through Aug. 7. Payments are expected to be made beginning in mid-August and continuing through September and potentially into October.

***
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 Tuesday, July 21.

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

San Diego County continued Monday to hit three metrics intended to alert officials when COVID activity is heightened.

KPBS Health Reporter Tarryn Mento says one data point that monitors how quickly staff can investigate new cases has hit a record low.

8% of case investigations were initiated within 24 hours. It reached 7% over the weekend but the goal is to be above 70%. Officials say the county's more than 220 investigators are struggling to keep pace with the sometimes 5 to 6 hundred daily coronavirus cases.

Supervisor Nathan Fletcher says the county is working to more than double the number of case investigators who make first contact with people that tested positive.

(:09) "To really get all the information surrounding where they went, exposure, potential ties to outbreaks along with who their close contacts were."

Officials are also reporting more community outbreaks and a higher case rate than our goals. The latter put San Diego on the state watch list and caused local reopening rollbacks earlier this month.

***
Since March, restrictions put in place by both the U.S. and Mexico have supposedly closed the border to everyone without "essential reasons" to cross.

KPBS reporter Max Rivlin-Nadler has found that in many cases, the application of these restrictions has been inconsistent... and possibly discriminatory.

After a trip to Washington, D.C. earlier this month, American Chef David Jones was crossing on foot back to Tijuana, when a Mexican immigration agent singled him out and told him he wouldn't be able to cross.

Jones, who lives in Rosarito, said he believes it's because he's black.

7:30
David Jones / Chef
I 100% believe it, there's just no other way to identify it, when I know there are others who aren't African-American who are able to come straight through.

Jones was eventually able to cross.

Enforcement of the "essential reasons" only requirement has been spotty in both directions.

In some cases, its random enforcement has been tragic.

In June, 41-year-old Luis Martinez, a dual U.S.-Mexican citizen, died from COVID-19 in San Diego after falling ill while living with his partner in Tijuana.

His partner, who had only weeks before given birth to their son, had a letter from Sharp Memorial hospital saying she should be able to cross to see her husband. On June 17th, border agents denied her entry into the U.S.

Luis Martinez died hours later.

Julia Najera is Martinez's cousin.

8:06
it was a life and death situation, and the agent denied her crossing.

Customs agencies from both countries told KPBS that who gets to cross during the pandemic is at the discretion of border agents.

***
That was Kpbs reporter Max Rivlin Nadler

Loneliness among elderly people who are in poor health and live alone has only worsened during the pandemic.

But what about seniors whose lives were once packed with travel, hobbies and meetups with friends?

KPBS's Amita Sharma spoke to one San Diego woman who uses an online social community to ward off isolation as health experts continue to urge seniors to stay put amid the coronavirus crisis.

(Kimberly)…"I rented an Air B'n B on a trip to Cuba. Another one I met up with on a trip to Bali."
That's 60-year-old Kimberly, who didn't want her last name used, talking about life pre-pandemic.
[Notes:00:04:57.760] (Kimberly)"....There were discussion groups that rain and they're still there, ranging from everything from movies, arts, sciences, current events, health and wellness…."
COVID-19 hasn't slowed her down.
[Notes:00:07:36.460] (Kimberly) "I visited Hawaii on a Saturday afternoon. I got to get together with some folks with a stand up comedian and a commentary, I did some meet and greets and almost went to visit a haunted mine in Australia."
All of this, of course, was done virtually.
But before the coronavirus, Kimberly globe trotted and chatted with people belonging to Stitch, an online group billed as the "world's largest companionship community." It's where people meet to find others to join them at what they love... like attending the opera, birdwatching, hiking, talking about current issues.
00:01:01:480 (Andrew Dowling)
"When we founded Stitch, our original goal was to get people to form positive and enriching social connections...and our philosophy was actually to get people offline, get out there in the real world and meet around the things they like to do."
With a master's degree in social enterprise, Andrew Dowling started Stitch in 2014 in Australia for people 50 and over after another business he launched -- which provided tablet computers to seniors -- opened his eyes to the risk of isolation as people age. He realized how human ties formed through school, work and parenting fade as children leave the nest and retirement looms.
00:06:21:550 (Andrew Dowling)"....We have these pressures that are constantly making our social circles shrink as we get older too. And so we found more and more people we were working with, saying, `You know, this thing you're doing is great but can you help me make new friends? Like, I'm actually quite lonely."
USC gerontology professor Donna Benton says it's not uncommon for someone to wake up one day and realize their peer group has dwindled rather suddenly.
00:14:41:220"....We may have actually lost them completely to death. So if that happens, your network is smaller. And it's that much more difficult to develop new networks."
Benton and Dowling quote studies that say loneliness, especially among older people, can cause inflammation, dementia and reduce someone's overall immunity to disease.
00:06:51:820 (Dowling) "….Once we understood that, we thought, well, surely there's a role that we could use today's technology in a way that actually creates positive outcomes for people rather than what you normally see on the Internet, you know trolls and arguments and all that sort of stuff…."
Dowling says Covid-19 has made the Stitch platform even more vital for older people.
00:09:28:830 (Dowling) "....It's a terrible world we're living through in many, many cases and for many reasons. But there are some kind of silver linings in there. And we're hoping to say, well, let's seize on the silver linings and turn them into bright sunshine that we can see expand during this crisis."
That's been the case for Kimberly. When the pandemic first hit, she says she grew sad and confused and could have gotten lost binge watching on the sofa. But Stich helped her get out of that potential rut.
[Notes:00:07:03.820] "It's kind of ironic because I'm participating in more events during the isolation period than I ever did before."
Kimberly says the fact that the platform is worldwide means someone, somewhere is always available to do things with.
[Notes:00:08:05.320] "So I can have coffee with a group at six thirty in the morning, which I'm doing tomorrow, and then do things on the weekends. Or if I have some flex time and have a lunch hour, I can participate in an activity and do some yoga on the weekends."

That story from KPBS investigative reporter Amita Sharma.
***
Coming up…fresh air can help you keep your sanity through the pandemic. Useful hiking tips from one of the region’s most relied upon experts in exploring the region’s trails.

That story after the break.

One thing we are learning about the coronavirus is that you are safer outside. So if you feel like you are going stir-crazy at home, why not head out for a hike.

Scott Turner is the co-author of the fifth edition of "Afoot and Afield in San Diego County.” It’s arguably the definitive book on hiking in our region.

He talked with KPBS Midday Edition’s Alison St. John about how hiking is a good alternative to gyms being closed...but not just for physical health.

So now, as well as writing this book, you are also a therapist. How does hiking help during this COVID-19 time? There's a lot of emerging evidence. That's come out over the past decade that indicates that hiking can take your stress levels down pretty significantly. And I think that's something that everybody needs right now. And, um, we found a lot of people going out on the trails attempting to do just that.

How has hiking actually helped your a state of mind during this time? It has been a nice outlet. As far as stress relief is concerned. I find that when I don't go hiking and I'm cooped up in the house, so I'm, I'm at home with the three and a half year old. And then I spent half of the day working, doing therapy.

Yeah. And when I'm cooped up, I find that that I kind of get locked into. A certain kind of mood. That's not always the best kind of mood. And so when I'm out and hiking, everything sort of loosens up and I find that I'm able to kind of shake that mood off. It gives me a lot of clarity. It gives me a lot of peace of mind.

And when I come back, I'm a much nicer person. How have your hiking habits changed? During this time I stopped altogether. Once governor, once governor Newsome issued the stay at home order. So I stopped for about two months. During that time afterwards, I made a point of trying to stay as close to home as possible.

During the time I was quarantined, we looked into how many hikes I could find within 20 minutes of my house so that I could avoid any long trips. Yes, I did that too. And discovered an amazing number of hikes, close to home. How what's a good way of finding hikes near your own home. One of the easiest ways is to go to your local city or region parks and recreation website.

Right? Um, you didn't have to me, I have to do a little bit of navigating. She get a hang of how their website works. It gives you a pretty complete listing of all the different, um, open space properties that they have. And so through that, I, I live sandwiched between Carlsbad and Encinitas. And through that, I was able to find about 25 different trails.

I could hike. 25. Yes. Would you say that most of the hikes are open now or are some of them still do sometimes show up and find they're still closed? Well, the trails are still open right now. Only a few of them. A few significant ones are closed. Most notably would be Tory pine state, natural reserve.

Their entire trail network is closed. Although the beach is open. What I'm finding is that it's not so much that the trails themselves are closed, but a lot of the facilities. Such as campgrounds, picnic areas, any place where people can congregate, those areas tend to be closed. Same with visitor centers.

Some, a lot of the times the bathrooms are also closed. So you can get onto a trail. You just can't count on having all the services. You might expect. Mission trails. Some of them are open. Some of them are closed right now. How do you find that out? Well, that the easiest way would be to go to mission trails website.

Um, also most of these parks and rec areas do a really good job of keeping up with their social media. So they've got Facebook pages, they have Instagram pages, and if you're able to follow them, they post pretty regular updates. So if something's gonna open, you can check out the mission trails, regional park, Facebook page, and they'll give you an indication saying, Oh, guess what?

Cole's mountain just opened. You know, they'll give you a lot of notifications on that. You mentioned North County. I know that San Marcus has a great trail network around double peak there. Um, there's boy to Vista park and Vista. The thing is that the beaches are often quite crowded. Aren't they? So do you think that there's enough hiking trails inland so that those won't get crowded too?

At this time, when everybody's looking for somewhere to walk. Well, that's the catch 22 with all of this is that not only have the beaches because very crowded, but you have to remember that the gyms and fitness centers are also closed. So, um, you know, San Diego County being very active County, a lot of people are going out and trying to figure out how they're going to get their exercise in.

So. The trails have been very, very crowded ever since. Um, the stay at home orders were eased somewhat. What do you do when you bump into somebody on a trail? I mean, it's, it's a, it, it seems kind of awkward to put up your mask, but, uh, what, what would you say is the best protocol to follow and hiking? One of the things is I, I do my best to start early.

So if you start early and I'm talking early, like sunrise early, If you start early, there's a really good chance that they're going to be far fewer people on the trail. Um, if you can't do that, then I try to pick out the trails that have wider spaces where you can step aside and let people pass. I have been wearing a mask.

I tend to pull it down whenever there's nobody within 20 feet of me. But whenever I see somebody approaching, I'll pull it up over my face and that's worked out really, really well for me. Give us some, some ideas of some of the places that you've found that you didn't even know existed before the pandemic began.

Yeah. Yeah. So it'd be again, being a North County resident. I. Have lived within about, I don't know, 10 miles from Encinitas ranch, which is it occupies two coastal Bluffs. There's a big golf course there it's up above the forum shops. If anybody's familiar with that on Leucadia Boulevard. And there's a trail network that covers about six to seven miles there, it winds through suburban areas.

So it's not exactly a wilderness experience, but you know, when you're in the middle of a pandemic and you know that most of the state parks and the national forests are closed seven miles. 10 minutes from your house starts to sound really, really good. And so that was a revelation for me. Some people who perhaps don't hike very much, seven to 10 miles, sounds a bit, a bit of a strenuous undertaking.

Um, would you say that even shorter hikes are helpful for our general state of mind? Yeah. I think some of the evidence that I've looked at says that within 20 minutes, you start to notice a significant decrease in your stress hormone levels. That's there's research out there. I don't have the specific study to quote for you, but I do know that within 20 minutes, which is about a mile walk for someone moving at a fairly brisk pace, you can reduce your stress levels.

So if you're able to take a three mile walk or even a two mile walk, and even if you were to stop for about 15 to 20 minutes and, you know, spend a full hour on the trail, you're going to get some pretty good benefits from your outside experience. Any advice for folks who perhaps don't normally hike on a regular basis, but feel like this might be a way to improve their quality of life at this time.

First and foremost right now, we're in the middle of summer and it's going to be a very long, hot summer. So on top of it, the pandemic stuff, we also have to be mindful that, okay, anything East of interstate five can become uncomfortably hot. So for people who are new to hiking, I would check the weather forecast before you go and make sure you're not trying to start your hike at one in the afternoon when it's nice, 85 degrees, um, additions personally always bring enough water with you, even if you aren't.

Able to get up at seven o'clock or six o'clock in the morning. If you go out and you have two to three liters of water more than you think you'll need, that's a really important part of it. Also, most of our trails are very exposed. So you're going to want to bring some kind of sun protection that includes sunscreen.

It includes a wide brimmed hat, um, try to avoid wearing dark colors because they tend to absorb heat. Um, I encourage everybody who does go out there to do a little bit of basic research in terms of what, what to bring what's safe, learn about the tennis essentials. Learn about leave no trace principles.

And if you do that, even as a new hiker, you're still going to be able to have a great time. And you're going to have a safe experience.

And that was Scott Turner, co-author of "Afoot and Afield in San Diego County,” talking to KPBS Midday Edition’s Alison St. John.

That’s all for today. Check out kpbs dot org slash news slash coronavirus to stay up-to-date on the latest news and information about the pandemic.

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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.