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Beachgoers Can Soon Be Sunbathers

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San Diego County officials announced yesterday that lounging at our region's shores is OK beginning Tuesday. Also on KPBS’ San Diego News Matters podcast: CVS Health will open seven additional drive-thru COVID-19 testing sites across San Diego County today, parents who are wrestling with the difficult decision over whether to send their kids back to daycare and more local news you need.

Beachgoers can now be sunbathers starting next week.

San Diego County officials announced yesterday that lounging at our region's shores is OK beginning Tuesday. Before this change, only activities that kept people moving were permitted, like walking, running or swimming.

But San Diego County Supervisor Nathan Fletcher says groups laying at the beach will be limited to household members.

"Obviously what we want to avoid are the types of scenes and situations that we've seen from around the country and from some other counties in California which is significant overcrowding.So allowing household units and having only household units stay together hopefully that ensures there are small groups."

Face coverings will also be required and group activities like volleyball will not be allowed.

***
A new report from the San Diego Housing Commission provides a possible roadmap to keep San Diego's low-income renters in their homes.

The report makes ten recommendations, including using city funds to make sure existing affordable housing doesn't become deregulated.

It also recommends adding a fee to Airbnb operators to pay for more affordable housing.

Ramla (rahm-la) Sahid, Executive Director of the Partnership for the Advancement of New Americans, says the ongoing pandemic has made the affordable housing crisis in San Diego worse.

Because families struggle to make ends meet, and because they're forced into overcrowded situations, where maybe they're even cohabitating with other families, these families are disproportionately impacted or at risk for infectious diseases like COVID-19.

The report will be presented to the full City Council next week.

***
Mayor Kevin Faulconer is expanding the slow streets program.

Remember, that’s the initiative that limits vehicle traffic on some streets around the city to make more space for better social distancing for people out walking and riding their bikes.

Our teams are in the process of planning a hundred additional blocks. For slow streets across the city, uh, which would more than double the current slow streets that are already in place.

Are you interested in getting one of your neighborhood streets designated a slow street? The mayor is asking for folks’ input about via a survey online at sandie dot gov slash slow streets.

**
The city of San Diego has apparently reached agreement on a final deal to sell its Mission Valley stadium property to SDSU, with the City Council scheduled to discuss it at 10 o'clock this morning.

For months, the City Attorney's Office has warned that parts of the university's offer put the city and taxpayers at risk. After some late negotiating on Wednesday, the university agreed to revise its purchase and sale agreement.

The council is scheduled to give feedback on those revisions today, with a vote on the deal pushed back to June 9.

***

CVS Health will open seven additional drive-thru COVID-19 testing sites across San Diego County.
CVS made the announcement yesterday, saying the move gets them closer to the goal of opening 1,000 testing locations across the country by the end of the month.
The new San Diego County sites are among 91 slated to open across California today.
***
And for the latest local COVID count: public health officials reported 117 new COVID-19 cases and five additional deaths.
That brings the totals to 7,100 and 260 deaths.

But the percent of tests coming back positive is still sitting at about 3 percent, a number public health officials say means the virus has likely peaked.

***

From KPBS, I’m Kinsee Morlan and you’re listening to San Diego News Matters.

It’s Friday, May 29.

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

Daycares are starting to open up again.

This is welcome news to many parents who’ve struggled to work from home while watching after their young children.

But are they putting their family’s health at risk by sending their kids back to a group environment amid a pandemic?

KPBS reporter Claire Trageser talks to parents who are wrestling with this difficult decision.

NAT POP
"When our school closed so did hers, so we had to figure out child care."

Alicia Tembi is a teacher and assistant principal in Encinitas and has an almost three-year-old daughter named Nina. She's been trying to teach classes and run staff meetings from home, with Nina under foot. But a few weeks ago Nina's preschool reopened for essential workers, which includes Tembi.

Alicia Tembi
San Diego Parent
SOT
"We were unsure about the health risks. A lot of the other parents are in hospitals, which means they could be exposed. Bless them for making that sacrifice, but I wasn't comfortable sending her, because she could be exposed, which leaves us exposed, so we had to choose whether to send Nina to preschool or we can keep seeing my mom and dad."

Aaron Jacobson has been struggling with the same decision. He's not an essential worker, and his three-year-old daughter Amelia has been home. But now her preschool is reopening.

Aaron Jacobson
San Diego Parent
SOT
"We talked about it, just went through the thought process of whether with the protocols her school was putting in place, it was the right thing to do, whether it was the right thing to do for Amelia. It didn't take us long to zero in on, yeah she can go back if she's allowed to."

Jacobson says he hates that Amelia is missing out by not being able to play with friends and be around teachers who can give her their full attention.

SOT
"It was heartbreaking to have a day like today, I had a lot of meetings, she wants to play, she wants to ask a question but I'm on a call."

Then, Amelia demonstrated exactly what her dad was talking about.

SOT
(Amelia walks in)
"Was there something scary on the show? Oh it was snakes? OK, let's find a different show for you. Mystery of the golden unicorn. That seems right up your alley."

SOT
"The general workforce needs to get back to work."

Dr. Mark Sawyer is a pediatric infectious disease specialist at Rady Children's Hospital.

Dr. Mark Sawyer
Rady Children's Hospital Infectious Disease Specialist
SOT
"This is a reasonable time to start to relax daycare restrictions, but we'll have to see what happens. It's not a one way street, over the next year we'll see peaks and valleys, and we need be prepared for closing them again."

The problem of course is that while most young children may not be particularly vulnerable to COVID-19, they are incapable of practicing proper hygiene to prevent the spread of the coronavirus. . He says the longer parents can wait, the better it will be because doctors will know more--including about a new COVID-related illness impacting children.

SOT
"On the other side of the equation, there's now pediatric inflammatory syndrome, and by June or July we might have a better idea of how frequent it is, how to control it."

Sawyer says daycares do need to have good sanitary practices.

SOT
"They need a system so sick kids are not coming in, to spread out, decrease the number of children, or increasing rate of adults to help supervise and keep them separated. Then disinfect regularly, handwashing."

Daycare owners say they can follow these rules, but they lose money with smaller groups of kids.

SOT
"Now I have a third of enrollment, and a lot more staff than I do typically."

Holly Weber, who owns Magic Hours Preschool in Mira Mesa, says as she's opened up more spots for kids, but the demand hasn't really been there.

Holly Weber
Magic Hours Preschool Owner
SOT
It's not happening as quickly as I had hoped, a lot of families made arrangements to keep kids at home, work from home, don't need childcare."

Aaron Jacobson decided that while his family can't be completely safe until there's a vaccine, his daughter Amelia’s education is too important..

Aaron Jacobson
San Diego Parent
SOT
"Anything you read, it's still a year away, and I don't know if that's good for her either to stay out of school that long."

Amelia will return to her preschool on Monday.

And that was KPBS investigative reporter Claire Trageser.

***
Arts and culture groups in San Diego are taking huge financial hits due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Mayor Kevin Faulconer has announced drastic budget cuts, including the budget of the Commission for Arts and Culture.

Lots of local arts nonprofits depend on city funding to keep things going.

But KPBS's Sarah Katsiyiannis (cat-sea-YAWN-niece) says the city has cobbled together 1.25 million dollars in funding for two new arts programs.


The two new programs are...

SD Practice and Park Social. They will provide 1 million dollars to fund and share public art from San Diego artists---

In addition, 250 thousand in nonprofit grants will go to support arts organizations.

Jonathon Glus is executive director of the San Diego Commission for Arts and Culture. He told KPBS that funding is coming from two private donors as well as a portion of fees collected by the city from developers.

ARTSFUNDING 1A
"This is an opportunity for artists to welcome back San Diegans and our visitors."

Works will be acquired from living San Diego artists. And the request for proposals for interested artists is open now through July 13th.

***
And now for a glimpse into the life of a dancer during quarantine.

KPBS arts calendar editor and producer Julia Dixon Evans catches up with San Diego Ballet’s Stephanie (maya-rano) Maiorano, who was set to perform Giselle this weekend.

Imagine a world where scorned or anguished women exist together in harmony, free of men, save only for when they gang up on one to haunt him. That's right, these women, known in folklore and myth as the "wilis," are the ghosts of young women who died before they were wed or were betrayed by their lovers.

These unearthly wilis — and their appearances in Victor Hugo's "Fantômes" poem and Heinrich Heine's nonfiction book, "De l'Allemagne" — inspired Adolphe Adams' 19th century ballet, "Giselle," which the San Diego Ballet was set to open on Saturday.

Giselle was born with a weak heart, and when Albrecht, her true love, betrays her — turns out he's actually a duke masquerading as a peasant boy — the heartbreak is too much and she dies. She doesn't just die, first she famously goes mad. And that's just the end of the first act.

Stephanie Maiorano, a dancer with the San Diego Ballet, has been waiting to dance the madness scene for a long time. "I've been working on that in my room since I was 15," she said. Originally steeped in the tale's eastern European origins, The San Diego Ballet's artistic director Javier Velasco has transformed the story, setting it in Spanish Colonial San Diego.

Maiorano performed as Giselle when the company produced the second act during a showcase last year, so fans have seen her take on Giselle in Velasco's world, but this weekend was set to be the first time they've done the full ballet and the first time Maiorano would act as the human girl form of Giselle.

We've seen this sentence too many times: And then the pandemic hit.

"I'm actually doing less ballet, less dancing than I have in my entire life," said Maiorano. She's able to stay strong, doing pilates, barre work and whatever other home-based training she can do without a studio’s impact-resistant marley floor, but the mental impact is harder to handle. "I've always been a ballet dancer. I started ballet when I was 3. I trained extensively once I hit 11. Every single day I was at the studio, and it’s been like that until COVID happened, and I'm 33 now. So it's really been my whole life," she said. "This has turned my life upside down."

Maiorano will have to wait even longer to tell Giselle-the-wili's origin story. The San Diego Ballet's full production of Giselle has been rescheduled for next May.

For a dancer whose career means showing up to a studio each day, rehearsing, teaching and taking classes, Maiorano is in a holding pattern. She's teaching youth ballet classes online, but mourns the loss of true interaction and the ability to really see and correct the dancers' movements. But it adds structure and practice to her day. "It’s from 9 until 4 of just teaching. And doing pliés and tendus and dégagés and rond de jambes over and over and over again. When it’s all done, I sit on the couch, I plan my zoom meetings,” she said. “I feel like I've become very work focused now that I’m just stuck inside."

She has dabbled with taking classes online herself — and appreciates that she can study with dancers across the globe she wouldn't otherwise be able to study with — but it's not the same as in-person, in-studio practice, and Maiorano is also contending with being a ballet dancer without a stage.

In Giselle, when the wilis take the stage in the second act, it's a riot of hauntings, plus one of the earliest uses of the "ballet en blanc" device, when a group of dancers dressed head-to-toe in white dances in unison. But the story is one of forgiveness.

Interpreted as Lloronas in Velasco's production, the ghosts are as beautiful as they are vengeful. When Albrecht finally finds his way back to Giselle, the wilis want him to suffer, using Giselle as a lure. But Giselle begs for mercy from the ghosts, and a powerful scene unfolds between the betrayer and betrayed as Giselle and Albrecht share a dance.

"The music is so epic, so lush," said Maiorano, or Adolphe Adams’ original compositions. "As a dancer, it’s just such a rewarding role to have. Not all music is that beautiful." Giselle is a technically challenging role, but Maiorano said that she doesn’t even think about the steps while performing. "The music carries you through. It’s an out of this world experience," she said.

For this kind of method acting, she's only pulled out of the character when the audience applauds at the end. Losing the performance element of dancing is an adjustment, because a dancer's entire year is shaped by the rhythms of each show, whether it be summer showcases or Nutcracker season.

When asked whether she still has to force herself to work from home and commit to being a dancer each day even during quarantine, she said that it's a "24/7 job," regardless of performance schedule or COVID-19. "The way I eat, sleep, walk, whatever. I’m a ballet dancer. It's all the time."

After three months of quarantine and being limited by what practice was safe to do on the floor at home, Maiorano was able to sneak into a studio and instantly felt like herself again. "I can't tell you how relieved I was to see marley floor and the big mirrors and the bar," she said. When she danced again, she realized that after three decades of dancing, her body could weather this storm. "I could see in the mirror that my legs, my feet, my arms were still doing what they've been trained to do."

***
Susanna Peredo runs Vanguard Culture, a nonprofit that helps build connections between San Diego's diverse artists and crafts people.

She called in with a lovely story of how she’s passing her pandemic time. She gets a little emotional toward the end of the call because her husband is an ER doctor and, like a lot of us right now, sometimes all the anxiety and the rest of the emotions the pandemic has provoked just feel overwhelming.

In a follow-up message after she left her voicemail, she said music really has made all of this tolerable and even inspiring. Here’s her story.

Hi Kinsee, it’s Susanna. Since the quarantine I hunkered down and started learning how to play piano. It's something that I've always wanted to do my whole life. I came from a very musical family with many people make their living with music. My grandfather was a concert pianist and my grandmother. Well, you could always tell when she was over. That's my son. So my grandfather was a concert pianist my grandmother you could always tell when she was over because there would be classical music playing with the house. My professional career was in theater and I did lots of musicals and I even had my own jazz band at one point all of that changed when I had kids and I started my business so until recently it had been years since I sing out loud and the one thing that always frustrated me and my past Performing Arts life was not being able to read music off with the accompanist. I'm not sure why I never made the time to learn it before to be honest. But now I'm being given this tremendous gift of time. I'm able to finally pause and fill my days not just with the sometimes tedious obligations of daily life. But also with the things that feed my spirit, I'm filling my days with music now for the first time since having kids. I'm singing out loud again. I'm singing my heart out and it feels pretty wonderful. I'm very grateful. Yeah.

That’s all for today. The San Diego News Matters podcast is produced and hosted by me, Kinsee Morlan, but most of the writing and the stories you hear in here...those are all done by the KPBS newsroom and other content creators. The podcast is edited by Alisa Barba, and Emily Jankowski is the master of sound design. Thanks for listening.

San Diego News Matters podcast branding

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.