Protesters Demonstrate At San Diego-Based News Outlet Known For Supporting Trump
San Diego News Matters / June 15, 2020
Today on San Diego News Matters: Protesters gathered outside of One America News Network on Saturday. A new study shows asymptomatic coronavirus patients can still face organ damage. Also, cities across California are on track to lose an estimated $7 billion in tax revenues because of the COVID-19 pandemic. But while no city is immune to the economic crisis, some are in a much better position than others.
Protests against racism and police brutality continued this weekend across San Diego.At least 200 bikers got together Sunday afternoon and rode from Oak Park to police headquarters in La Mesa. They joined 100 more protesters there.
In Coronado, more than 100 people turned out at Spreckles Park for a "Baby's First Black Lives Matter Protest.” This was after 300 San Diego Unified School district students gathered there on Saturday.
And also on Sunday in Pacific Beach, protestors met up at the Crystal Pier for the “Walk for Equality” march.
Those are only some of the protests from this weekend. All of which were in protest of the death of George Floyd in police custody in Minneapolis in late May.
This month the state released data on COVID-19 cases at residential psychiatric and drug treatment facilities.
Most of them had 11 cases or less.
But one mental health facility in Sacramento had 40 cases among residents, and a statewide substance use center had 28 cases among staff.
Mental health advocates say people with mental health and substance-use disorders are vulnerable to coronavirus due to smoking, poor nutrition and other factors … and that living in large groups is an inherent risk.
The state has put out guidance for testing, protective equipment, social distancing and disinfecting these types of care facilities.
Back in March Governor Gavin Newsom ordered a halt to prisoner admissions due to the coronavirus.
A study by the Public Policy Institute of California shows the state's prison population is now the lowest it's been seen since 1993---before California's three-strikes law was passed.
The PPIC study was written by Heather Harris.
Now that inmates are again being admitted to prisons, she says the state must also increase prison releases.
But, she says, it’s complicated.
"You don't want to be releasing people who are sick into the community, and creating extra avenues of transmission. But you can't also keep people in prison just because they are sick."
There are now about 24-hundred confirmed cases of Covid-19 in the state prison system, which remains overcrowded -- at 124% of capacity as of Mid-may.
I’m Anica Colbert, filling in for Kinsee Morlan.
On a Monday, it’s June 15th. This is San Diego News Matters from KPBS News.
Stay with me for more of the local news you need.
On Saturday, protesters gathered in front of a San Diego-based conservative cable news channel -- one favored by President Trump. KPBS video journalist Andi Dukleth was there and has this report.
The protesters say the right wing slant of One America News Network does not represent the voice of San Diego
Organizer John Brunell said the network spreads misinformation and injustice. He specifically cited OAN's report on Martin Gugino-- the protester shoved by Buffalo police officers. That report claimed he was an Antifa provocateur.
"One of the OAN broadcasters decided to spread some horrible misinformation about him that is completely unprovable. And I thought it disgusting and offensive and I couldn't believe that that was coming from our backyard.
And then Donald Trump retweeted the article and the lies."
A facebook video showed CEO Robert Herring talking to the protesters, asking them to take another look at OAN's coverage. OAN had hired armed guards in anticipation of the protest, but protesters say they kept it peaceful.
Every city budget in San Diego County has been hit hard by the COVID-19 pandemic.
But as budget voting comes down through city councils, some cities are clearly hurting more than others.
KPBS metro reporter Andrew Bowen brings us this breakdown of the different local budgets.
AB: Things have been quieter than usual lately at the National City Mile of Cars. It's one of the oldest car shopping districts in the country. But the pandemic has kept many would-be shoppers in their homes — and the cratering economy has led consumers to put off big-ticket purchases. All that is dealing a major blow to the National City budget.
BR: I keep saying how do we drive down the hill versus off the cliff.
AB: Brad Raulston is the National City manager.
BR: Off the cliff to me is hurting people and employees, dealing with layoffs and those sorts of things.
AB: Instead of those drastic actions, Raulston wants to balance the budget for the next fiscal year with mostly short-term measures: things like deferring infrastructure projects and dipping into the city's reserves. National City was hit harder than most by the pandemic because it gets about 55 percent of its general fund revenues from sales tax — more than any other city in San Diego County. On top of the Mile of Cars...
BR: You have one of the large regional malls, Westfield Plaza Bonita. All of which contribute to the good and the bad of having a lot of sales tax. The good of course is you need the revenues, the bad is when you have recessions it tends to be more volatile than property tax and some of the other taxes that support local government.
NR: A city budget is a balancing act.
AB: Nick Romo is a legislative representative for the California League of Cities. He says cities face a collective loss of about 7 billion dollars through summer 2021 because of the pandemic. Much of that is in sales tax revenues.
NR: Different from the last recession, usually sales taxes are still — can be a reliable source of revenue. But these are extraordinary times with the social distancing, the stay at home orders that have really prevented all of us from being able to at least go down to the corner store and purchase something. So that has been a unique point of this crisis.
AB: The one source of revenue where cities are seeing stability, or even growth, is in property taxes. But Romo says California's Prop 13 significantly limits year-to-year growth in property tax revenue. This makes it tough for them, even in good times, to find ways to pay for basic services like public safety, parks and libraries
NR: If they're going to grow, if they're going to continue to serve more and more residents with great service, they've had to turn to other sources of revenue, including the sales taxes and other hotel taxes.
AB: Hotel taxes are another big revenue source for San Diego cities. But they've also dried up over the past four months as tourism has come to a standstill. After the city of San Diego, the county's second biggest generator of hotel taxes is Carlsbad. Its hotels are suffering, but the city's valuable real estate and it's relatively wealthy population, have allowed Carlsbad to build up one of the most robust rainy day funds in the county — more than 100 million dollars.
SC: I do think the city of Carlsbad is actually positioned likely better than most in the region.
AB: Scott Chadwick is the Carlsbad city manager. He says the city took advantage of the healthy economy before the pandemic to pay down a sizable chunk of its pension debt.
SC: I believe it was roughly 20 million dollars that we paid down of our pension liability last year. And that was on top of a pay down of I believe it was 11 million dollars the year before. So we are aggressively trying to address our pension and again I feel that we've well positioned ourselves to be able to weather the storm.
AB: But to the east, in Escondido, the budget situation was dire, even before COVID-19. City manager Jeff Epp says he's planning on asking voters for a one-cent sales tax increase in the November election.
JE: The difficulty is that our revenue situation just doesn't match up with the expenditures that are necessary to run a city of this size. And it really does need voter attention. We've been able to deal with it internally for several years, but we simply can't keep doing that. And we can't keep doing that particularly now with the effects of the global pandemic.
AB: Of course, tax hikes typically don't fare well at the ballot in times of economic hardship. And depending on how long the pandemic lasts and the speed of the economic recovery, 2020 could be just the start of cities' financial struggles . Andrew Bowen, KPBS news.
That KPBS’ Metro Reporter, Andrew Bowen.
A lot of San Diego businesses were re-opened this weekend. Bars, gyms, some more shops and restaurants.
But we’re all wondering just how safe it really is to go out again. A local researcher estimates that nearly 40 percent of people with coronavirus are asymptomatic -- so they don’t even know they have the disease and may be spreading it unknowingly.
Our KPBS science and technology reporter Shalina Chatlani reports that even without symptoms, it doesn’t mean people aren’t impacted by the disease.
Scientists know many people can get coronavirus, but not show symptoms. But is being asymptomatic a get out of jail free card? Scripps Research cardiologist Eric Topol says not necessarily.
TOPOL: you can have internal organ damage and not know it.
Topol looked at people who had been tested around the world. And found anywhere from 30 to around 40% of coronavirus cases were asymptomatic. But when doctors looked at lung scans from those patients who didn't have any symptoms…
TOPOL: the majority of these people had very significant lung abnormalities. Now, what explains why we only have two million people that have actually confirmed the diagnosis and well over 10 maybe with that must have had an infection?
Topol says those people probably didn't get tested. So, many more people are spreading the virus and not even knowing it. Shalina Chatlani, KPBS news.
Nearly 1,000 healthcare workers in San Diego County have tested positive for the COVID-19 virus.
But local data shows most infections are happening outside hospital settings.
Employee testing at UCSD Health and Scripps Health found less than 1 percent of employees were positive.
At Sharp, antibody testing showed about 2% of surveyed high-risk employees were positive. Sharp's Dr. Norihiro (nori-HERO) Yogo says the early data shows that infection control efforts are working, but looking at more factors can determine what increases the risks.
INFECTION 2A (:08) "...to ask them what kind of job they have, what percentage of their job includes taking care of COVID patients, if they have prior testing or not, for instance."
The county says many of the health care worker infections are linked to skilled nursing facilities and they're working to bring hospital infection control measures to these locations.
Central American families seeking asylum remain stuck in Tijuana, waiting for immigration courts in the US to reopen.
But with the border still closed to these families for the foreseeable future, a binational team has come together to make sure their children still have access to education.
KPBS reporter Max Rivlin-Nadler brings us this story.
Even before the pandemic, asylum-seekers struggled to find educational opportunities for their children.
Since April, a coalition of local non-profits has stepped up to offer remote learning for these children, well before many schools in San Diego were able to make the switch.
Nicholas Sandoval is the founder and CEO of Create Purpose, which runs educational programs in orphanages in Tijuana.
Sandoval: Once we started offering these classes virtually, it was just a lightbulb went off for the organization, we realized we didn't lose any of the learning process. The children were more attentive.
Create Purpose has partnered with UCSD's US Immigration Policy Center, and Espacio Migrante, a shelter in Tijuana, to get the programming to asylum-seekers.
So far the students, who are all girls, are learning computer basics and coding in a room that Espacio Migrante has converted to virtual learning.
The groups hope to expand the program to other shelters in the coming months, as asylum-seeking families continue to wait in Tijuana for their day in court.
Max Rivlin-Nadler, KPBS News.
National Guard and active duty troops have left major cities like Washington D.C., after this month's protests. But some service mem bers refused to deploy and they are now are facing consequences. Carson Frame reports for the American Homefront Project.
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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