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Some Social Distance Resistance

 April 20, 2020 at 2:00 AM PDT

Over the weekend, social distancing resisters took to the streets in San Diego. RALLY CLIP Over a hundred people in downtown San Diego protested the governor’s stay-at-home order. There were no attempts by the San Diego Police to enforce the order or to keep people six feet apart. Instead, the police gave KPBS a statement saying quote "We have decided not to enforce the law at this time. We welcome people to voice their frustrations and concerns in a peaceful way. We hope after they've done so, they'll disperse." And on Sunday, a group of about 100 people marched along South Coast Highway 101 to protest the closure of beaches, parks and trails in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic. ENCINITAS PROTEST There are now 27 detainees at the Otay Mesa Detention Center positive for COVID-19. It's the largest outbreak in immigration detention in the nation. Dozens of detainees say they're now on a hunger strike until they're all tested... and treated for COVID-19 if they're positive. Hunger-striker Edgar Granski has been detained at Otay Mesa for eight months. He’s facing possible deportation back to Russia. He told KPBS that the inmates also want better safety equipment, and for all guards to follow CDC guidance. OTAYUPDATE 2A (0:10): It's common-sense, c'mon you guys. We're all adults here, we're dealing with an epidemic that we've never had to deal with in our lifetime, but do things and take the precautions necessary. CoreCivic, which runs the facility, directed questions about the hunger strike to Immigration and Customs Enforcement. ICE denied there's an ongoing hunger strike at Otay Mesa. BEAT And for the latest COVID count: San Diego County health officials reported Sunday 55 new coronavirus cases and no new deaths. So, we’re sitting at 2,268 confirmed COVID-19 cases in the county and 71 deaths. I’m Kinsee Morlan and you’re listening to KPBS daily podcast San Diego News Matters. It’s Monday, April 20. Stay with me for more of the local news you need. MIDROLL AD Everybody wants this social distancing to end. But before that happens...Before state-at-home orders are lifted, Health experts say there needs to be a huge increase in the relatively small number of tests currently being done for Covid-19 Testing is ramping up…but health experts say we also need an equally robust program to trace the people who have had contact with infected people. If those two things happen, the thinking goes, we can avoid spreading the coronavirus to others. San Diego could be well equipped to do both of these things but it’s not. At least not yet. And around the country -- it's the same. Around 1500 labs say they aren't testing for COVID-19, but they could if they had the right guidance. KPBS science and technology reporter Shalina Chatlani says that's the result of a survey from San Diego researchers on testing capabilities within labs nationwide. LABS 1 UC San Diego economist Joshua Graff Zivin and Sanford Burnham Prebys biomedical scientist Gioavanni Paternostro surveyed 4,000 labs that were recently awarded grants from National Institutes of Health. And while just 3% of labs surveyed said they were already testing, over a third said they weren't sure how to get started… even though they have the necessary equipment. Economist Graff Zivin speculates… ZIVIN :10 If we take an extraordinarily conservative number, which is to say imagine these labs could do a hundred tests a day. That's 150,000 tests a day. Graff Zivin says some labs aren't certified to test in clinics, but can still help monitor the spread of coronavirus. Those surveyed said top challenges are lack of detailed testing protocols and regulations, not enough supplies and funding, and a lack of guidance on how to coordinate with other labs. As coronavirus rips through senior care facilities nationwide killing thousands, staffing shortages are creating their own kind of risk. KPBS Investigative Reporter Amita Sharma spoke to an employee of one San Diego facility who says he was recruited to work as a caregiver for two senior residents with COVID-19 despite almost no training. --------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------- OAKMONT At $7,000 a month for singles and $14,000 for couples, retirement community Oakmont of Pacific Beach is one of the more upscale senior residences in San Diego. Richard Pecjak | Oakmont Employee 1:19 "It's like living on a cruise ship that doesn't go anywhere. And when you're a senior citizen, that's kind of a good place to be." But not lately, says Richard Pecjak (PEE-jack). He works as a driver at Oakmont. He says earlier this month, his supervisor asked if he could fill in as a caregiver for two women -- a 98-year-old and 102-year-old. They both had COVID-19 and were in quarantine. He says his desire to help plus the offer of $5 extra an hour on top of his $15.50 hourly wage prompted him to say yes. He says the only training he received was direction on how to wash his hands and put on his gloves. 7:59 "I was not afraid to go into that room with no training...ish. I knew I could handle it. I knew I could take care of these people." He wore an N-95 mask, gloves and a gown when he entered their room. 2:34 "I helped bathe them, and helped them go to the bathroom and fed them, certainly helped them while they were in bed, adjusting their bedding and transferring them in and out of the wheelchair when they went to the restroom." He says he was told that another caregiver would be with the two elderly women, one of whom is on oxygen, when he wasn't there. 5:42 …."Only to find out that there wasn't and they ended up on the floor. 5:53 if this were your mother, how would you feel if you saw something like that?" The 56-year-old Pecjak says after working four 12-hour shifts caring for the women he began to worry about his own health. He says he approached his managers at Oakmont with two requests: he wanted to be tested for the virus and be put into a 14-day quarantine without having to use his own sick time accrual. He says management refused both of his requests. 6:33 "Instead, I was brought straight back into the community and told to go back to my regular shift, delivering food to people, bringing them mail, doing zoom calls with family members." Pecjak also accused Oakmont of not being transparent about how many staff and residents have been diagnosed with COVID-19. KPBS contacted Oakmont which sent a statement through its public relations agency The Press Shop, run by Nathan Ballard, a crisis communications strategist. The statement read in part: "At our Oakmont of Pacific Beach community, we are caring for some COVID-19 positive residents. In the course of their duties, some of our staff do interact with those residents. In all of those interactions, CDC and [Notes:state Department of Public Health] guidelines for appropriate [Notes:personal protective equipment] use are followed." Ballard added that Oakmont is following CDC guidelines when it comes to testing. He also sent a link to those guidelines. However, he did not answer any questions relating specifically to Pecjak's allegations. The California Department of Social Services, which licenses assisted living residential communities, also declined to answer questions related to Pecjak's experience at Oakmont. Instead, a DSS spokesman/woman sent several links on its rules governing staffing and caregiving. Dr. Karl Steinberg, a nursing home and hospice medical director in North County, says he's not surprised that Pecjak was returned to his regular duties without being tested for COVID-19, because of test kit shortages. 5;08 "It's permissible and it's far from ideal and it does pose a significant risk to other residents because they are so vulnerable. If they do get it, they're gonna be the ones who are likely to have respiratory failure and die from it." He praised Pecjak for accepting the extra task of caregiving duties. But Pecjak says there may be fewer people ready to answer that call as the pandemic stretches on. 7:39 "We've had a lot of caregivers just quit and give up or be afraid for their families, and not wanting to bring it home but still wanting to keep their job. We love these people. This is what we do." By the way: Patients and staff at 11 nursing homes throughout San Diego County have confirmed cases of COVID-19. The data comes from the state, which released a partial list Saturday for the first time. The state released the list following weeks of pressure from families, doctors and advocates. San Diego County officials have confirmed nearly 200 cases and more than 20 deaths in senior care facilities countywide. But they have refused to provide the names of facilities with cases. BEAT The Mayor of Coronado has a question: can we all agree that surfing shouldn't be illegal? KPBS Reporter Matt Hoffman says restrictions to slow the virus's spread have closed beaches and the recreational activities that go along with it. _________________________________________________________ CORONADO 1 (:51) Coronado Mayor Richard Bailey says a viral video of a lone surfer being chased by authorities near La Jolla got him thinking. 08;05;47;17 How can it be true that that individual was posing a public health risk to anyone at all? So Bailey launched - a petition asking for a "common sense" approach to enforcement of state and county orders. 08;07;28;28 How come if I'm properly social distancing on the sidewalk that's okay, but if I'm kayaking the bay that's illegal Bailey says he agrees physical distancing is important to slow the spread of the virus. He's just wondering- can we social distance while still doing some of the activities we love? 08;10;10;19 Policies that criminalize watching the sunset or kayaking the bay or fishing with your family those errode the public trust Those in violation of the governor's stay at home order face up to a thousand dollar fine and or six months in jail. BEAT In case you missed the news last Friday: Comic-Con has been canceled because of the coronavirus pandemic. KPBS arts reporter Beth Accomando has the details. COMICCON 1 For the first time in its 50 years Comic-Con International has had to cancel its summer pop culture convention because of restrictions on public gatherings in response to COVID-19. Spokesperson David Glanzer says this will have a big economic impact on more than just the non-profit organization and the city. DAVID GLANZER: I think one of the most gut wrenching things about this are the stakeholders in our show. There are, you know, individuals who make their livelihood or a good portion of their livelihood at Comic-Con. And yet it's a horrible thing to not have a show this year. Comic-Con is looking into options for some kind of virtual or online version of the convention that attracts upwards of 135,000 attendees. If you purchased badges for this year you will have an option to request a refund or transfer badges next year. San Diego’s economy is taking a beating from every side because of the COVID-19 restrictions that limit human interaction. But KPBS Reporter Erik Anderson says not every part of the local economy is suffering. LOCALECON 1 San Diego’s tourism and service sectors are being crushed by rules that limit travel. Hotels, restaurants, and tourist spots are all shut down and thousands of workers are laid off or furloughed. A recent survey by the San Diego Regional Chamber of Commerce found 42 percent of the small businesses they surveyed are shutting down temporarily. But there are some bright spots. University of San Diego economist Alan Gin says the military represents more than a billion dollars of local economic activity. LOCALECON 1A :09 “I don’t think that you’re going to see layoffs of civilian personnel in the military like you’re seeing in the private sector.” Gin also sees positive news for the region’s life science sector. He says many local biotech companies are working to understand the coronavirus. He says others are dependent on grant funding that is still out there. BEAT Theaters, of course, rely on doing live performances. The coronavirus pandemic has forced them to close their doors and find new ways to deliver content and find audiences. KPBS arts reporter Beth Accomando checks in with the Old Globe Theatre to see how it’s coping with these new challenges. GLOBE San Diego's Old Globe Theatre is no stranger to adversity. Its theatre burned to the ground in 1978 but rose from the ashes to open again. And its namesake, Shakespeare's Globe Theatre, faced a pandemic not unlike the one we face today says artistic director Barry Edelstein. BARRY EDELSTEIN: I've been turning to Shakespeare a lot and not just because the writing is so glorious and beautiful and uplifting and happy-making, but also because he's a theater artist who knew what it was like to have his theater shut down by disease. It happened multiple times during Shakespeare's career. And you know what? The theater's always reopened. But unlike London's Globe Theatre of the 1600s, the one in Balboa Park has technology at its disposal to put programming online even while the theater itself is shuttered. So very quickly The Globe put up arts engagement programs like Behind the Curtain; artistic output with Act Breaks; and humanities programming like its online book club. But not every theatre company has a Shakespeare scholar in house but Edelstein is one and he's offering an online version of his Thinking Shakespeare demonstrating how to bring Shakespeare's language to life by looking to his sonnets. CLIP Sonnet 29 we are going to go one line at a time… BARRY EDELSTEIN: One of the real strange things about this moment is that in our first week of operation online, we had 12000 views of our material. So if you add up the capacity of all three of our auditorium in Balboa Park, times eight performances a week, you don't get to 12000. That is more people who have seen our online work than in Balboa Park. These are all programs run and initiated by the Globe, but the theater is also participating in a nationwide program called Play at Home to commission playwrights to create 10-minute plays. BARRY EDELSTEIN: These are not plays that would ever be produced and in fact, the instructions to the playwrights were don't worry about having it produced so if you want suddenly 15 unicorns to come running through, do it. GILL SOTU: So set a courtroom in the jungle. Playwright Gill Sotu came up with the Terrible Case of Miss Locks. GILL SOTU: So what it's about is Baby Bear is put on trial because he attacked and ultimately killed Goldilocks. She was intruding in the house…but she was an intruder. So that's what the trial is about, whether it was murder or whether it was just, you know, defending his home. His play along with many others can be downloaded for readings at home. GILL SOTU: I have this overwhelming feeling of joy that art is persisting even though we're isolated… If this was like 20 years ago, 30 years ago, where we didn't have the technology to match the demand. We already have the technology in place before all this happened. So people are still able to embrace art. And arts organizations are in a unique position says Edelstein. BARRY EDELSTEIN: All these non-profit theater organizations, these arts organizations around the country, are driven by values were non-profits. We're not following some commercial impetus. We're actually following an ethos of public service and of public good. And so if the circumstances change, we still have to hew to our missions and provide art as a public good. And of course Shakespeare's Sonnet 18 has a perfect line to address this. BARRY EDELSTEIN: So long as men can breathe or eyes can see, so long lives this and this gives life to thee. And that 'this' refers to Shakespeare's poetry. In that case but I'm going to use it to refer to theater so long as men can breathe or eyes can see so long lives. This and this gives life to thee. I can't improve on Shakespeare. You can find links to the Old Globe Theatre's online offerings at theoldglobe-DOT-org. BEAT As COVID-19 continues to take its heaviest toll in the health-care industry, a San Diego nurse attorney, author and veteran of the AIDS crisis is offering nurses a free video series to help them survive the pandemic. Lorie Brown put together the video series to provide tips for nurses on the front line of the coronavirus fight. COVID TIPS NURSE VIDEO CLIP The series features 18 experts who provide advice like how to keep your immunity, getting better sleep, practicing mindfulness and understanding nurses' rights. You can find the video series by searching for “empowered nurses” on youtube. That’s all for today. And for some music to take you out, we have some sound from San Diego's B-Side Players, who’ve been going live on Facebook for their big audience. B-SIDEPLAYERS CLIP

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Over the weekend, two separate protests questioned the governor’s stay-at-home orders. Also on the San Diego News Matters podcast: around 1500 labs around the country say they aren't testing for COVID-19, but they could if they had the right guidance, The Old Globe’s online efforts and more local news you need.