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

Zip Codes Hit The Hardest

Cover image for podcast episode

PHOTO BY ALEXANDER NGUYEN

Above: A COVID-19 testing sign is pictured in this undated photo.

Looking at the zip codes of the people who’ve died of the virus reveal a huge disparity. Plus: The Padres are back sans fans, the big differences between virtual learning and homeschooling, how the pandemic is shaking up plans for the region's transportation future and more of the local news you need.

San Diego News Matters is KPBS’ daily news podcast. Support the show: https://www.kpbs.org/donate

Friday was an opening day for the San Diego Padres like no other... The Padres defeated the Arizona Diamondbacks 7 to 2.

But what made it unique was a baseball game with nobody in the stands at Petco Park due to COVID-19.

Still, Padres fans like Karla Martiniz showed up at the park to reminisce.

We wanted to get all dressed up we got all our new jerseys we wanted to come down and take our pictures -- we're hoping the park at the park is open to get a picture by the statues

In the broadcast of the weekend’s games, the Padres did feed in fake crowd noise and put a few cardboard cutouts of fans behind home plate.

The Padres won again Saturday, but lost Sunday. The next game is this afternoon.

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California lawmakers are returning to work Monday for a furious five-week sprint that will include contentious debates about police brutality, unemployment benefits, hospital mergers and a moratorium on evictions during the pandemic.
The state Legislature has been shut down twice because of the coronavirus, which means the number of bills that can pass by the Aug. 31 deadline for the session will be limited.
Coronavirus-related bills being considered include a proposal from state Sen. Jerry Hill that would make COVID-19 infections eligible for worker's compensation benefits..
And a bill from state Sen. Anthony Portantino that would expand paid sick leave for food-sector workers.
Lawmakers are also discussing how they could replace some federal unemployment benefits set to expire Friday.
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San Diego County public health officials reported 603 new COVID-19 cases and nine additional deaths Sunday, raising the region's totals to 26,701 cases and 533 deaths.

The 14-day rolling average of positive tests is 5.8 percent...The target set by California is less than 8%.

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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 Monday, July 27...and I apologize, by the way, on Friday I gave you the wrong date….

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

Last week San Diego County hit a grim milestone with 500 deaths reported due to COVID-19.

KPBS investigative reporter Claire Trageser looked at the zip codes of the people who died and found there's a huge disparity.

More than half of the people who died lived in either the South Bay, City Heights, or Southeast San Diego--the most ethnically diverse areas in the county.

In fact, there were only three zip codes north of Interstate 8 where more than five people died: Pacific Beach, Rancho Penasquitos and Escondido.

Many zip codes have had no deaths, including Scripps Ranch, Allied Gardens and parts of Carlsbad, Encinitas and Solana Beach.

Nancy Maldonado
Chicano Federation of San Diego County
SOT 10;13;21;20
"If the zip code that you live in can dictate your chances of contracting a deadly virus, we've got a lot of work to do."

Nancy Maldonado (MALL-dah-nah-DOE) is the president of the Chicano Federation of San Diego County.

SOT 10;12;54;25
"People's income is directly linked to their chances of being infected by COVID-19."

People who live in poorer neighborhoods are less likely to be able to work from home, so they are more exposed, she says. And data from across the country shows Black and Latino people are more likely to die of COVID-19. https://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2020/07/05/us/coronavirus-latinos-african-americans-cdc-data.html

GRAPHIC
COVID Deaths in San Diego County
Hispanic/Latino 45%
White 38%
Asian 12%
Black 4%
Source: San Diego County Health and Human Services
https://www.sandiegocounty.gov/content/dam/sdc/hhsa/programs/phs/Epidemiology/COVID-19%20Deaths%20by%20Demographics.pdf

In San Diego County, 60% of the cases and 45% of the people who died were Hispanic or Latino. Latinos make up 34% of the local population.

Last week, the county launched an outreach campaign to Latinos, including ads in Spanish.
https://www.countynewscenter.com/county-intensifying-covid-19-outreach-to-latino-communities/

SOT 10;16;48;15
"The county's response and our entire response would be different if these were the infection rates we were seeing in La Jolla or Del Mar."

Maldonado (MALL-dah-nah-DOE) says she wishes the county's efforts happened earlier, but says they're a good step.

SOT 10;16;02;06
"People feel far removed from it, if you haven't been touched by it personally, it feels like it's somewhere else, whereas we are hearing these stories every day about people whose lives are being destroyed by it."

KPBS investigative reporter Claire Trageser. You can use our searchable zip code map at kpbs dot org to see where deaths and infections are occuring..

***

With In-class learning in brick and mortar schools on pause, school-aged children will be schooled at home in the Fall.

But, as KPBS's Maya Trabulsi reports, virtual learning and homeschooling are two very different options for parents to consider.

Claire Roush Bennett taught high school in the public school system and now works for a public charter school while homeschooling her own two children. She says many parents she's talked to felt their kids didn't do well in the virtual learning environment.

CRB: The reality is some kids don't do well on computers for a long period of time.

VO: She says some parents expressed their desire to limit screen time, which would be impossible to do with virtual learning. What also draws a lot of parents is the looser structure compared to the rigid schedule of virtual learning.

CRB: They're following this bell schedule. Right. You're going to come and you're going to play here and then you're going to take a break and come back. Whereas in home school, you do it when it works in your day or sometimes you do it on the weekends.

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The COVID-19 pandemic means many people in San Diego County are no longer commuting to work.

KPBS metro reporter Andrew Bowen says that's shaking up plans for the region's transportation future.

AB: At the beginning of the pandemic, the work from home trend caused car travel, congestion and air pollution to plummet. But in April, all those things started to rise again, according to the regional transportation planning agency SANDAG. Antoinette Meier is SANDAG's director of mobility and innovation. She told board members on Friday more teleworking can help lower greenhouse gas emissions. But it's not a panacea, and it tends to help mostly white and upper income workers.

AM: For just about everyone that works in an industry like hospitality, which is a sector that employs a lot of people in our region ... — these jobs are much less likely to be able to be done at home, and they're often lower wage jobs.

AB: Meier says improving public transit is still crucial to helping those essential workers, who are more likely to be Black or Latino and are less likely to have access to a car.


AM: So as we plan for a future transportation system with equal access to jobs and education and community services, quality public transit is vital making those critical connections equitably.

***
"Prosecute or resign." That's the demand being made of San Diego County District Attorney Summer Stephan.

KPBS reporter John Carroll says The Racial Justice Coalition San Diego accuses Stephan of neglecting to prosecute what they call abuse and illegal behavior by police.
______________________________________________________________________

Members of the Racial Justice Coalition San Diego are calling out San Diego D-A Summer Stephan for not prosecuting any officers for any shootings, though Stephan's office is currently prosecuting one Sheriff's deputy for murder. Desiree Smith was one of the speakers at a news conference Friday.. Her son was involved in a violent altercation with San Diego Police at Lincoln High School in 2014. He survived. Smith summed up the group's message to Stephan.
"We are tired of our people being killed with no justification and no prosecution."

The D-A's office released a statement that says in part: When the evidence and facts support criminal charges, we will file them.

***
Coming up…

The Department of Veterans Affairs in Los Angeles is allowing homeless veterans to live in tents on the VA campus. They are offering food, health care and other services.

Plus…

How well is the Del Mar Racetrack following COVID 19 health guidelines?

Those stories after a short break.

Serious charges are being leveled against the Del Mar racetrack. A local animal rights activist says racetrack workers are not following COVID 19 health guidelines.

KPBS reporter John Carroll says racetrack management reports that they're doing everything by the book.
_____________________________________________________________________

Ellen Ericksen has been protesting horse racing at Del Mar for years. She points to the deaths of horses every year to bolster her claim that horse racing is cruel - but now she says there's a new problem… the possible spread of COVID 19.

"I have documentation of workers that are not masked, they are not socially distanced and they're in group settings."

But Del Mar Thoroughbred Club Chief Marketing Officer Craig Dado says they're doing what the County Health Department says they should be doing.

"We've been working very closely with Scripps Health and the County Health Department to make sure that our procedures and protocols are the best they can be."

A couple of weeks ago, 12 jockeys at Del Mar tested positive for COVID. Dado says none of them developed symptoms and they're all back on the job.

***
In Los Angeles, the Department of Veterans Affairs is trying a new way to help homeless veterans. It's allowing them to live in tents on the VA campus, where they can also receive food, health care, and other services.

As the COVID-19 pandemic continues, It's a model that could expand outside the VA.

Matt Tinoco reports for the American Homefront Project.

By any metric, it's like countless other homeless camps around Los Angeles -- A collection of a few dozen tents propped up on a parking lot, most draped with blue tarps. But there's also porta potties, handwashing stations, and on site medical staff. The tents are spaced apart, maybe about 12 feet.
Lisa Thompkins is one of the only women there, and has been homeless for a long time
"it's been a struggle for the last 19 years. But I'm sober today and I'm happy today and I'm walking in peace today."
"There was some issues with social distancing and face mask wearing.... And I found myself like, all of a sudden, without a place to go."
As a former air force medic, she could turn to the VA for resources. And when she showed up, she was offered a space in the camp.
"they have, you know, around the clock security, and they have case management on site. They have nurse practitioners on site"
Officially, the camp is the Care Treatment Rehabilitation Services program -- the CTRS in federal acronym speak. It's one of few such sites in California. Basically, a stopgap to give vets who were showing up at the VA asking for help, like Thompkins, somewhere to go during the pandemic. Dr. Anjani Reddy is clinical director for the LA's VA's homeless program.
" this really does seem like the right time to to jump into action and to provide the service"
In the hierarchy of basic needs, the CTRS takes care of some of the most fundamental -- three meals a day, water on tap, bathrooms, trash services,-- and the security of a federal campus. None of those things are easily accessible for people living outside.
And, you know, we continue to move them towards stable housing. But we recognize that that's limited right now and it may be limited more in the future
Southern California's homelessness crisis continues to worsen, jumping another 13% since last year.
It has some thinking the sanctioned-camp model piloted at the VA could become an option for L.A.'s population of non-veteran homeless.
That includes a federal judge, who's overseeing a lawsuit filed by advocates and property owners who charge L.A.'s government has handled mass homelessness with negligence. That judge has ordered the city to shelter thousands in just a few months, potentially in sanctioned camps.
Michele Martinez is special advisor to the court in that case. [Notes:"Chief Dot Connector"]
"This is a rebirth, this is a renewal, we're gonna have to do things differently."
At the same time, and despite some successful experiments -- many in and out of government are reluctant to embrace safe campsites because, well, it seems like giving up. The people in them are still homeless, still in tents, still outside, and still without indoor plumbing.
But for Lisa Thompkins, the camp at the West LA VA better than a camp somewhere else.
"It's not ideal now, but I'm making it work. I've got my pink comforter in here and I got my unicorn squish mellow for a pillow…"
It's a work in progress. No on-site showers mean coordinating a ride to a nearby Y. It took two weeks to figure out access to electrical outlets for charging cell phones. But for Thompkins, it's still a step up.
"You know, I'm grateful. rather than focus on what they didn't do. I'd really like to focus on what a benefit this is to me."
It's the simple things she appreciates the most -- a small water bottle refill station and easy access to ice cubes for a chilled drink.

Matt Tinoco reporting from Los Angeles. This story was produced by the American Homefront Project, a public media collaboration that reports on American military life and veterans. Funding comes from the Corporation for Public Broadcasting

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That’s the show. I hope you’ll listen again tomorrow.

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