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Masks Are Mandatory
San Diego News Matters / May 1, 2020
San Diego residents are now required to wear facemasks. Also on KPBS’ San Diego News Matters podcast: beaches in San Diego can stay open, the unique challenges for those recently released from prison or jail and more local news you need.
San Diegans were ready to be very upset at Governor Gavin Newsom for RE- closing area beaches.
But then he didn't.
A widely reported memo from the California Police Chiefs’ association said Governor Newsom was going to close all California beaches to prevent the spread of the coronavirus.
He did close some beaches, but only in Orange County.
The OC was singled out due to images Newsom cited showing crowds of people last weekend at Newport Beach and Huntington Beach.
"My job as governor is to keep you safe and When my health folks can't promise if we have another weekend like we had"
The governor said he never intended to close all California beaches.
So, again, San Diego beaches are open...for now.
And San Diegans have been granted even more access to the outdoors.
County officials on Thursday announced eased restrictions when it comes to golf courses, parks and boating.
County supervisor Nathan Fletcher says parking lots at parks can open to half capacity and members of the same family can go out and enjoy these public spaces together.
"NOW TO BE CLEAR, THIS DOES NOT MEAN ALL OF YOUR FAMILY MEMBERS WHO LIVE IN DIFFERENT HOUSEHOLDS CAN COME TOGETHER. IT MEANS THE INDIVIDUALS WHO LIVE IN ONE HOUSEHOLD CAN GO OUT AND PLAY TOGETHER."
And today is the day.
San Diego residents are now required to wear facemasks.
That might not sound different than what you’ve already been doing…
But starting Friday, the order is official, which means people who violate the face-covering rules could be fined up to $1,000.
But authorities say they are taking an “education-first” approach, and they’ll be giving warnings before resorting to those hefty fines.
Evidence does suggest that masks don't provide full protection, but can help slow the spread of the virus.
That’s according to University of Maryland aerobiologist Donald Milton.
It reduces shedding from the sources and then it also protects you a little bit against the virus you might pick up from somebody else
San Diego County Officials said masks are required at public parks and beaches, stores or businesses, when around other people or in the office. They do not need to be worn when you are alone in a car or out jogging on an uncrowded trail.
And a federal judge in San Diego ruled Thursday that Immigration and Customs Enforcement should release as many as 69 detainees at the Otay Mesa Detention Center.
These detainees are considered "medically vulnerable."
Otay Mesa currently has the largest outbreak of COVID-19 of all immigration detention centers in the country.
The ruling was in response to a lawsuit brought by the ACLU. Monika (Mo-Nika) Langarica (Long-A-Rika) is the ACLU attorney who argued the case.
THIS IS THE TIP OF THE ICEBERG, THIS IS THE FLOOR NOT THE CEILING, THESE DETENTION CENTERS NEED TO BE DEPOPULATED, AND PEOPLE NEED TO BE FREED FROM CONFINEMENT AND WE'LL CONTINUE DEMANDING THOSE THINGS.
A status hearing to review whether the medically vulnerable detainees have been released is set for this Monday.
And for the latest local COVID count: Another 132 San Diegans tested positive and four more people died. That’s a total of 3,564 cases and 124 deaths.
County officials said the increase in positive cases correlates with more testing, but overall, the percentage of tests coming back positive is remaining stable around 6 percent.
But if a spike comes after the increased access to public outdoor places, officials say restrictions will be put back into place.
From KPBS, I’m Kinsee Morlan and you’re listening to San Diego News Matters.
It’s Friday, May 1.
Stick with me for more of the local news you need.
Jail and prison are especially scary places to be right now--the close quarters mean there's a bigger chance of a COVID-19 outbreak.
This is one reason why more inmates are being released early these days.
But KPBS reporter Claire Trageser says there are also unique challenges for those recently released.
Recently Released From Jail
"I was sentenced two days before they closed the courts to 170 days with half time, on April 18, that Saturday I got out."
Stephen Harris was released early from jail due to COVID-19. After just a few weeks away, he re-entered a different world.
"It's so weird, it's like a ghost town outside, I knew it was serious, but we weren't getting the full message in there. There's nobody on the streets, nobody on the trolley, it feels weird not to be able to go where you want to go."
Other things are missing, too--the contact he'd typically have with the court system.
"The parole office is closed, they're not doing home visits, instead they're doing phone check-ins once a week."
Recently Released From Prison
SOT [Notes:00:00:11] On March 7, 2002, I was sentenced to twenty five years in federal prison for a gang related drug indictment, conspiracy delivery to distribute 20 kilos of crack cocaine…. [Notes:00:04:03] I've been out six months. I've got released September 26, 2019."
Robert Wood is out after spending ?? years behind bars. In the best of times, getting support to find jobs and housing wouldn't be easy for him. Now it's next to impossible.
SOT [Notes:00:04:53] If you're just getting out, you need help, you need access to resources that they can help you with, then those meetings are critically important to you. So for some people, it's just like I'm shut up in a place, I need work. They may want to go talk to them about, you know, job placement or something. And it's just hard to do. You just can't go talk to them in person."
Wood is talking to his parole officer on the phone, and says without his family's support he'd be homeless. He's currently on disability, but doesn't know where he'd find a job.
SOT [Notes:00:07:04] "Any classes that you would have taken at employment centers, all those kind of places, the resource centers, the majority of those are closed."
Pillars of the Community Director
SOT "Normally when a person gets out, there are still gaps in the system, where even getting a bus pass to get to a drug treatment class is hard. Multiple that by infinity now."
Laila Aziz is the director of Pillars of the Community, a nonprofit that helps people who are just out of prison. She's working nonstop right now to get people into housing, and is dropping off donated restaurant meals three times a week.
SOT "Some people just don't have the support, maybe they were foster youth, or have been in the system since juveniles."
She's also helping people sign up for unemployment and get their stimulus checks, which is challenging when not meeting them in person. For people who've been in prison a long time, technology doesn't always come easy.
SOT "Getting them on Zoom can take 3 to 4 days, and the mute button is never on, so we hear the entire household talking."
One bright spot Aziz has found is that some are getting unexpected support from their families.
SOT "Maybe their parents or grandparents kicked them out, said they don't want anything to do with them, but now with COVID it's like Thanksgiving dinner, where you say, OK you're kicked out, but you can still come eat Thanksgiving dinner. Families are taking people back in because of COVID."
And that story was from KPBS investigative reporter Claire Trageser.
This week, Palomar Health eliminated 317 positions as the healthcare system struggles with a drop in revenue and patient volume during the COVID-19 outbreak.
KPBS reporter Matt Hoffman talked to a nurse at Palomar who lost his job and Palomar Health CEO Diane Hansen.
We did our best not to impact clinical or bedside care physicians
Palomar Health CEO Diane Hansen says fewer people are seeking care.
Outpatient surgeries are down about 60 percent inpatients surgeries well over 60 percent
Registered Nurse Stevie Tubbs who's worked for Palomar Health for more than 4 years was one of those let go.
Stevie Tubbs, RN, former Palomar Health Nurse
It's a tough thing to kind of accept or swallow.
Tubbs lives in Escondido and says he just wants to get back to serving those in the North County.
I love the fact that I can go to the grocery store and see bill the plumber that I care for and see how he's doing. Because caring for people is who I am not what I do so it makes it hard for to not be doing work as a registered nurse right now
Also this week Tri-City Healthcare temporarily furloughed 48 workers and locally other healthcare systems are reducing shifts.
The other healthcare systems reducing shifts include Sharp HealthCare and Rady Children's Hospital. Both those hospitals say they haven’t laid anyone off, but staff have been repurposed or hours and shifts have been cut.
Both UC San Diego Health and Kaiser Permanente in San Diego county are still fully staffed. Kaiser has been increasing virtual appointments online.
In San Diego alone there has been a jump of more than 700% in telehealth appointments at Kaiser.
County health officials said earlier this week that the healthcare job losses are worrisome.
Dental offices around California have been mostly dark since the middle of March because of strict COVID-19 social distancing rules.
KPBS Reporter Erik Anderson says dentists face some changes when they are allowed to reopen.
Dan Roberts has a periodontal practice in Encinitas. He is looking forward to seeing patients again, but he knows it will be different. Roberts says the best way to beat COVID-19 is to keep it out of the office.
DR 10:05:51 – 10:06:04 “And that’s where we do the questionnaire over the phone. We take a temperature outside before the patients come into the office. We have them wash their hands with hand sanitizer before they come in.”
COVID-19 is spread in the air and some of the high speed tools, like drills and scalers, create aerosols that can carry the virus. Roberts and his staff will wear masks, medical scrubs and gloves to prevent transmission. The California Department of Public Health will determine when dentists can return to their regular work.
Traditionally, early May is when high school seniors are committing to the college they're planning to attend.
But this year the pandemic has complicated these decisions.
KPBS Education Reporter Joe Hong explains why some students are having second thoughts.
DANIEL ZHEVEL /// SERRA HIGH SCHOOL STUDENT
I kinda just freaked out in the middle.. The sidewalk in the street. I was just jumping up and down, I was just so happy.
California's stay-at-home order had been in effect for about a week when Daniel Zhevel found out he was accepted into the University of Southern California. But if USC goes online for the Fall, Zhevel is considering taking a gap year to work and save money.
I really don't want to pay to do work from my house. If I'm gonna pay for college I really wanna be there. Getting all the resources I can get instead of paying just to do work from my couch.
If USC goes online for the Fall, Zhevel is now considering taking a gap year to work and save money. College admissions officers are well aware that these thoughts are going through the heads of their prospective students. Scott Hagg, who heads enrollment services, says they are trying to adapt on the fly.
SCOTT HAGG // CAL STATE SAN MARCOS ASSOCIATE VP
What this COVID-19 has done is it's thrown all models out the window.
Some students accepted to four-year colleges are considering community college. No matter the alternative, students agree.. a freshman year online will be a bummer.
OK...the weekend starts tomorrow and I keep thinking this...this will be the weekend I finally start my garden.
Thankfully, for noobs like me, there’s plenty of help.
The university of California master gardener program in San Diego County has launched an online tool to answer gardening questions.
Summer Cardi-aye, one of the programs Master gardeners joined Midday Edition’s Mark Sauer to talk about the new resource.
Speaker 1: 00:48 So first, give us an overview of this new tool.
Speaker 3: 00:51 Okay. So with this new tool, we've acknowledged that people's lives have changed and with the stay at home orders, it makes it really difficult for us to get out in the community and educate people about home horticulture and pest management. So we've made an a OneStop, uh, where you can find all of the information in one place on our website and that, that master gardener, sd.org you can also Google us and it'll pop right up. And then on that site there's a link and it says let's grow San Diego. So you click on that and you'll find this beautiful tomato plant with several different tomatoes representing different topics you can learn about. So what you'll do is you'll click on one of those topics and that topic will give you a plethora of information on everything you might need to know about that.
Speaker 1: 01:36 Well, if someone has a question they can't find the answer to on the site.
Speaker 3: 01:39 So we still have our ASCA master gardener program running, so they can either call the hotline and that number is (858) 822-6910 or they can email firstname.lastname@example.org and someone will get back to them with any questions that they have concerning any specific things to their own gardens and anything they can't find on the website.
Speaker 1: 02:05 Okay. Now, it seems a lot more people are gardening since the pandemic began, it kind of invokes memories of backyard victory gardens in world war II. Is that something you're seeing? Why do you think that's happening?
Speaker 3: 02:17 Oh exactly. Yeah. I've actually, I know on a personal level I've been receiving lots of calls from friends and family. Um, I think what's happening is that this pandemic is forcing people to reassess their lifestyle and consumption choices and a lot of people are realizing how dependent we are on others for just our basic food needs. And so I think what they're trying to do is reclaim some of that control. And uh, beyond that, some people are just looking for opportunities to teach their children something that's educational and fun while they have them at home.
Speaker 1: 02:47 In two thirds of San Diego are renters and may not have much space for gardening. What are some good things to grow in a limited amount of space?
Speaker 3: 02:55 Okay. So that's actually one of my favorite questions if they are reality is that that San Diego is expensive place to live and people are in apartments. So what I suggest is using your vertical space and using compact plants so people can easily grow things in hanging containers, hanging baskets, whether that's strawberries, herbs, ornamental flowers. They can also grow a smaller variety tomatoes and five gallon pots on a patio. Or if they don't have a patio, they don't have space outside at all. They can create little a windows, they'll gardens, maybe growing some micro greens which can be harvested in as little as seven days or growing some herbs on a window seal.
Speaker 1: 03:34 And for a complete newbie, he wants to just get started in gardening. What advice might you have?
Speaker 3: 03:39 So my advice is to start small, choose a few varieties that you like to eat and then start to learn about those plants. And you know, through trial and error and a little, um, reading up online or educating yourself. You can learn about those you plants. And then from there expand, um, I also really recommend that you go to our online tool. The let's grow together San Diego tool and choose the tomato that says beginning vegetable gardening. And on there, it's step by step guides to how to start a garden. But it's even great for the more experienced gardener. There's a lot of information, detailed information on plants, um, a variety of plant on pest management. So it's really a great place for all gardeners. Whether a newbie or experience
Speaker 1: 04:23 on that online tool that master gardeners launched. There's activities to do with kids and they're doing schooling from home now these days. Can you give us a few examples?
Speaker 3: 04:32 So if you're a stay at home mom or dad right now? Um, I think it's a really great idea to get the kids outside in the sun and involved in gardening. Um, research shows that a lot of gardening actually connects kids to academic concepts and makes it, uh, more, more tangible for them. So some of the things they can do is they can sprout seeds and watch them grow through the different stages that a plant goes through. And what's fun is I've noticed with my, my children at the boys and girls club, and I see my sister doing this at home. When a child cares for a living thing and they watch it grow, they're super proud and excited to eat that plant once it's ready. And so we find that more children are eating healthy, nutritious vegetables that they may not have already tried.
Speaker 1: 07:25 I've been speaking with summer Cardiay, a master Gardner in San Diego. Thanks very much.
Speaker 3: 07:30 Absolutely. I hope everybody has a lot of fun getting out there and, and grown some food.
So there’s a new effort underway to help feed hungry people in Tijuana and other cities south of the border.
Feed Baja is a group of friends working together to collect food donations and get them to people who’ve lost jobs because of the pandemic. Check out www.gofundme.com/feedbaja for details.
That’s it for today. Have a safe weekend.