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LATEST UPDATES: Tracking COVID-19 (coronavirus)

Governor of California Issues Statewide Stay-at-Home Order And More Local News

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Speaker 1: 00:00 It's Friday, March 20th I'm Deb Welsh and you're listening to San Diego news matters from KPBS coming up. Governor Gavin Newsome issues a statewide stay at home order and spring has sprung. The host of KPBS is growing passion shares her expertise. Even though it seems like the ideal time to get out there and pull weeds. Don't do it. Wait a few days until the water kind of receipts and then get out there and pull your weeds and that more coming up right after the break.

Speaker 2: 00:36 The governor of California has taken a dramatic step to prevent the spread of coven 19 by preventing physical contact among people in this state.

Speaker 3: 00:45 We direct a statewide order for people to stay at home.

Speaker 2: 00:49 Gavin Newsom announced the stay at home order Thursday evening warning that the coronavirus threatens to overwhelm the state's medical system. The move was the most sweeping by any state so far. It was an exclamation point. At the end of a week of increasingly aggressive moves meant to keep the virus in check. Newsome emphasized there would be exceptions to the rule and people could still venture out for essential jobs and errands.

Speaker 3: 01:15 People still getting their medicine. People still going about doing the kind of essential work that is required to meet this moment. The order provides for all of that.

Speaker 2: 01:26 The governor said he doesn't expect police will be needed to enforce his stay at home order saying social pressure already has led to social distancing throughout the state. Imperial County has reported four cases of coronavirus and officials of war and the numbers could rise. I knew source investigative reporter Jennifer Bowman has more. There are fewer than 300 hospital beds in Imperial County, one of the poorest counties in the state with roughly 180,000 residents. The mostly rural areas suffers from poor air quality and respiratory illnesses already are prevalent, but health officials there say they're prepared for coven 19 and that there's no evidence the virus is spreading in the County. Adolf Edwards, CEO of El central regional medical center says they have enough supplies to handle a rise in cases in a Facebook video this week. He said the hospital's focused on infection prevention.

Speaker 3: 02:16 We take these protocols very seriously and I personally ensure that it is happening.

Speaker 2: 02:22 He said the hospital sanitizing its emergency room and all treatment areas after each patient. For KPBS I my new source investigative reporter Jennifer Bowman. I knew sources teaming with KPBS on Corona virus coverage. I knew sources and independently funded nonprofit partner of KPBS San Diego state university has one student who tested positive for at 19 he returned from study abroad in Italy. University says had told students returning from countries with significant outbreaks to self quarantine for 14 days, but KPBS investigative reporter Claire Tresor. Those instructions weren't clear and the student with coronavirus did not follow them. SDSU says it asks returning study abroad students to self quarantine for 14 days and to go to their permanent homes, not SDSU. When they got back to the United States, KPBS reviewed an email telling students in Italy to come home and it didn't say to self quarantine. In fact, it said specifically no order for quarantine or self isolation exists for individuals from any area other than mainland China. Adrian Murdoch who is studying in Italy says the instructions weren't clear. I was confused. I don't know if my school is canceling this. I don't know if they want me to come home. KPBS asked SDSU officials to comment, but a spokesman referred us to the school's website. There it says the university would violate the constitutional rights of students if it forced them into isolation. Claire Trigere, sir KPBS news, the veterans benefits administration is closing regional offices. KPBS military reporter Steve Walsh says vets can still make claims online, but for some that's still a problem.

Speaker 4: 04:12 The VA announced Wednesday that was canceling all in person appointments and counseling services to limit the spread of the Corona virus that the VA is still open, but all benefits, claims hearings are being done remotely. Sam Flores is a veteran service officer for the American Legion. He guides veterans through the claims process.

Speaker 5: 04:30 So as long as the veteran has a smart phone, the veteran service officer has a smartphone or a tablet, um, then they can communicate via that link with the veterans law judge and continue what they hearing.

Speaker 4: 04:41 The problem is some older vets may not be comfortable with the technology.

Speaker 5: 04:45 A lot of the veterans that we represent are up in age and they don't do the email or the Skype or the Facebook or uh, the benefits platform that the VA provides.

Speaker 4: 04:56 Flores and others are reaching out to the veterans, families and friends to see if they can help set up some of this equipment. What they can't do right now is go to their homes or ask them to stop in. The American Legion has also canceled its meetings and shut down posts to protect its members. The VA is letting feds cancel their meetings with the judge for now, but Florida says that will mean delays in processing their claims. Steve Walsh, KPBS news

Speaker 2: 05:20 as Cova 19, continues to spread in San Diego, local elected officials and advocacy groups gathered on Thursday to encourage the county's immigrant community to continue to access healthcare and resources regardless of their immigration status. KPBS reporter Maxwells and Adler has the story. Local

Speaker 6: 05:40 leaders and community advocates spoken downtown San Diego about the need for immigrants to reach out to County services if they're feeling unwell or a feast, economic hardship during the pandemic enrollment of immigrant children. And subsidized health care had already dropped over the past year in California. The administration has threatened to bar people from obtaining legal status if they or their family use social services like Medi-Cal state assembly woman Lorena Gonzales said that immigrants should get tested for coven 19 and seek out other services without fear of arrest or deportation.

Speaker 7: 06:13 These are really important benefits that you deserve and should be accessing. And of course you can use food banks, free lunch for your kids if they need it free, free breakfast, um, and your immigration status will not be affected.

Speaker 6: 06:27 The officials also reminded people that anyone with legal status citizen or not can access benefits like unemployment insurance and should be doing so. Max Riverland Adler KPBS news

Speaker 2: 06:38 with many San Diego. It's not traveling to work or school. The public transit system is suffering a big drop in ridership. KPBS Metro reporter Andrew Bowen says there may be cuts to service

Speaker 6: 06:52 the metropolitan transit system board of directors held its monthly meeting Thursday morning via conference call. The news from CEO Paul J Blonsky was not good.

Speaker 8: 07:02 Ridership is down and I think we haven't seen the bottom yet. My guess is that overall it's probably approaching 40% so we, we are preparing plans to reduce service to meet demand.

Speaker 6: 07:17 Fewer people paying fares. The budget is taking a hit. Officials say they may switch most routes over to Saturday schedules when buses and trolleys come less frequently with some added service in the mornings. MTS says it will keep its regular schedules at least through the end of March. Andrew Bowen KPBS news

Speaker 2: 07:36 yesterday, Mark the first day of spring and as we're being encouraged by the governor to stay home, one great home bound activity for many San Diego is gardening, gardening guru and host of the KPBS series a growing passion. Nan's German spoke to midday edition host Maureen Kavanaugh. No for our spring gardening in San Diego. We've gotten a good amount of rain lately. How does that determine how our planting preparations? Well [inaudible]

Speaker 9: 08:05 you don't want to Groton in the rain because first of all it's wet. But second of all when the soil's wet you don't want to step on it cause it goes compact even though it seems like the ideal time to get out there and pull weeds. Don't do it. Wait a few days until all the water kind of recedes and then get out there and pull your weeds. But wet soil, I mean is we get into spring planting. Having wet soil is a great thing because when you put those little plants in the ground, the first thing they need is to establish their roots. And if the soil's moist they have that much easier time doing it.

Speaker 2: 08:34 What do you tell people when they ask you the very general question, what should I plant in springtime in San Diego?

Speaker 9: 08:40 The rule of thumb for orange, for edibles rather is what we're going to plant in spring now is going to carry us through summer. Those are our summer vegetables. So this is where I tell people if you eat the fruit, the fruit is any part of the plant that seeds. So that would be tomatoes, peppers, cucumbers, melons, all that. Those generally we grow in summer. It's the last part of the life cycle of a plant and it takes the longest for those plants to ripen and they need the heat. So we grow all, we plant all of those in spring so we can eat them through summer. If we eat the stems, the roots or the leaves, we generally grow those in the cooler seasons. He'll be lettuce and carrots, theme, do carrots pretty much anytime. But you know, broccoli, cauliflower, all those, those are the cool season crops and those we don't want to be planting now cause it's gonna get warm too soon.

Speaker 9: 09:30 Those you want to wait until the end of summer and prepare those for next fall and the ornamentals well this is a really interesting question. The drought tolerant Mediterranean climate ornamental. So that would be our California natives and the plants that come from Australia, South Africa, the Mediterranean, um, and the West coast of Chile. Those we really want to be done planting depending on where you are in the County, you want to be done planting them by April more or less because they want to establish when it's cool. We want to start planting those when the weather cools and fall and plant them all the way through the cool wet weather. Then they establish easily, you don't want to plant them in the heat cause they'll really struggle. So that would be like Rosemary and Bay and stenosis and the beautiful gravillias and that pincushions all of those. When the weather gets too warm, it's too hot.

Speaker 9: 10:23 But if you're planting subtropical, so that would be like oranges and the nanas and um, uh, angel trumpet and those kinds of plants. They're a little thirstier but those do better if you plant them Chi now through kind of June. Well you can plant them through summer, but they do better if they establish when it's warm. You mentioned just a few minutes ago, drought tolerant plants and a drought tolerant garden. Few years ago, the big question was how do I replace my lawn and build a drought tolerant garden? Is that still a major concern in San Diego? Yeah, absolutely. And with climate change that's going to be even more of a concern because we're just going to get hotter and drier. And even though I've been going to a lot of conferences lately, so this is something that's really on top of my mind. On the top of my mind, what the experts are telling us is that we may not change the overall amount of rain we get, but it's going to come in very short, fast, furious spurts. So we're going to have longer dry periods in between in the seven now eight seasons of a growing passion. You touch on so many of these topics and so much more. How can people see your show? Well, they can tune in at eight 30 on Thursday nights and Sunday at 1130 in the morning, I think it's 1130, maybe 11 1130 and um, they can see shows. The shows that are airing now are shows that have aired previously as we prepare for the new season. They can also find our shows online on the KPBS website

Speaker 1: 11:54 or on our website or growing passion.com but there's 42 episodes that are online. You can watch them anytime you want. You don't have to have a television. You can go into the computer and find them.

Speaker 2: 12:04 That was Nancy Derma, the host of KPBS as a growing passion to hear the complete interview go to kpbs.org and listened to the mid edition podcast. Congress has passed urgent legislation to ensure that military veterans can continue to attend college. Hundreds of thousands of veterans get federal tuition and housing benefits through the post nine 11 GI bill, but many received where they could lose those benefits if their colleges moved to online instruction because of the coven 19 pandemic. Jennifer Brooklyn reports for the American Homefront project.

Speaker 1: 12:41 Christine Peterson spent five years in the Marine Corps and used the GI bill to get her undergraduate degree at Georgetown university. Now she's a master's student there. She also served as a chapter president for student veterans of America. That's how she learned the department of veterans affairs would stop paying some GI bill benefits for students whose in person classes transition to online.

Speaker 10: 13:02 I first received an email from the VA. The email itself was incredibly ambiguous to me and I'm someone that has worked in veteran's higher education advocacy for three to four years now.

Speaker 1: 13:18 The VA notice said students can keep receiving benefits only if their schools, the state approving agency had authorized it to offer online instruction. It's not clear how many programs or institutions that affects the VA didn't provide a list, but all kinds of colleges and universities around the country have switched from traditional classes to online classes in the past few weeks because of the pandemic. Peterson says the notice from the VA is explicit that keeping tuition and housing allowances unchanged required congressional action.

Speaker 10: 13:48 They're essentially telling student veterans like help is on the way, but we can't advocate for or against this help because it's a legislative fix. So I found that really interesting. They are definitely straddling a line here.

Speaker 1: 14:00 In the wake of the VA announcement, the Congress did rapidly pass a bill to allow student veterans to continue receiving their normal allowances, even if their programs remain in distance learning mode. The bipartisan bill moved through the Senate and house with no opposition. Secretary of veterans affairs, Robert Wilkie had a short student veterans, their benefits would not actually be taken away.

Speaker 11: 14:21 They're not going to lose them. Nope, they're not losing them. Um, they'll still get their benefits.

Speaker 1: 14:25 Lauren Augustine advocated in Washington to make sure the bill passed. She's the vice president of government affairs for student veterans of America. She says lawmakers were interested in finding a solution and fast, but with a pandemic, it was all new territory.

Speaker 10: 14:40 These are completely uncharted waters. I don't think that there's ever been a time where we've seen sort of mass movement of universities from in-person classes and businesses normal to, you know, upside down world and classes online and canceled and moving out of the dorms with no notice. And for our student veterans, this is a really unique issue. And the Hill's paying attention and the VA's paying attention.

Speaker 1: 15:01 Augustine says an immediate fix was needed because a lot of student veterans rely on those GI benefits, not just to pay tuition but to live and support their families. Christine Peterson says she has some savings but was worried they wouldn't be enough if her GI bill payments were halted next term and she worried about student veterans who support older parents or children.

Speaker 10: 15:22 If my benefits are impacted, we don't have any income coming into our home. And so it's not quite at the scared point yet because we have savings. But I mean, I know for a fact like the fact that we have savings already puts us in a very different situation than a lot of my peers and we also don't have children. So our concerns are honestly quite small compared to a lot of my peers.

Speaker 1: 15:49 Peterson says she knows other populations will be disproportionately affected by this pandemic. She says she feels lucky as a student veteran to be in one group that garners bipartisan support. I'm Jennifer Brooklyn reporting. This story was produced by the American home front project, a public media collaboration that reports on American military life and veterans funding comes from the corporation for public broadcasting.

Speaker 12: 16:20 [inaudible]

Speaker 1: 16:23 that's it for San Diego news matters today. Consider supporting this podcast by becoming a KPBS member today. Just go to kpbs.org/membership yeah.

Gavin Newsom orders all Califiornians to stay home with the exception of essential jobs and errands. Plus, immigrant advocates urge people to seek benefits and medical care regardless of their legal status. And gun sales jump, following the coronavirus scare.

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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.