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From Motel To Homeless Housing

 May 27, 2020 at 2:00 AM PDT

A recently renovated Super 8 motel in South San Diego will now serve as temporary housing for homeless families affected by the COVID-19 pandemic. Mayor Kevin Faulconer announced the news on Tuesday. While nearly 1,300 homeless individuals are living at the San Diego Convention Center, homeless families are being housed in motel rooms through the county's Regional Task Force on the Homeless. The motel was originally intended for a different program for repeat misdemeanor offenders with drug addiction, but Faulconer said those plans are on hold for the moment. because there's nothing that takes precedence right now more than our efforts to help stop the spread of covet 19. And so this motel offered 42 recently refurbished units that we know we can put to use now as shelter for families that are struggling with homelessness or are on the verge of homelessness. *** DIY haircuts may be a thing of the past. It's about time. I just gave my husband and one of my boys small accidental bald spots in at-home haircuts gone wrong. But now, hair salons and barber shops are finally on the region’s reopening list. The state gave its approval Tuesday and Those businesses can begin operating immediately in San Diego County. However….Local officials say shops must complete a reopening plan and ensure safety measures so many may not open right away. The county also announced Tuesday that one-on-one sports training could begin, but with safety modifications. *** So, it’s pretty hot out there. Temperatures soared well into the triple digits in the San Diego County deserts Tuesday and the blazing conditions are not expected to let up until this weekend, according to the National Weather Service. And scientists say the hot weather could help stop the spread of COVID-19. Doctor Dean Blumberg [Notes:BLUM-berg] is the chief of Pediatric Infectious Diseases at the U-C Davis Children's Hospital. He says there are several factors to consider. One is that people go outside when it heats up. "If people are outdoors more in the summer, which they may not be during this extreme heat, that's a great way to interrupt transmission of virus because most of the transmission occurs indoors and that's why there's more transmission during the winter." The other factor could be the hope that the virus doesn't survive as well in heat and high humidity. But we don’t know. Blumberg warns that since this is a novel virus and the vast majority of the population is still susceptible to it, we could have continuing transmission in the summer as we did in 2009 with a strain of the swine flu. *** And for the latest COVID count: The county reported Tuesday that 85 new people tested positive for coronavirus to bring the county's total to 6,882. But the county's death tally has held at 249 over the last three days. San Diego County Public Health Officer Dr. Wilma Wooten says the string of 0 deaths from COVID-19 is likely due to a lag in reporting. "I think the fact that there have been non reported deaths is much the indication that we've had a holiday. We anticipate that we will see an increased number of deaths and continuing in the week." But she added that the data is showing that it appears we may have peaked. She said the next 21 days would represent another litmus test for the county's handle on the illness. She urged residents to remain vigilant but said things were looking better and better for our region *** From KPBS, I’m Kinsee Morlan and you’re listening to San Diego News Matters. It’s Wednesday, May 27. Stay with me for more of the local news you need. San Diego County's best and brightest high school graduates won't get the standing ovation they deserve this year. KPBS Education Reporter Joe Hong spoke to valedictorians from across the county about what it's like to earn this honor during a pandemic. ____________________________________ JORGENUNEZ.mp4 14:39:19 Greetings High School seniors, families, underclassmen and the hard working staff. The speech I'm giving you today wasn't what I had planned, but I still feel very honored to speak to you. At times like these it's hard to see the positives in our lives and celebrate our accomplishments. Jorge Nunez is the valedictorian at San Diego Unified's Hoover High School. This is the speech he's planning to give over a virtual graduation. JORGENUNEZ.mp4 15:05 …We have cultivated a culture of unity and strength. That will not only help us overcome this pandemic but one that will help us achieve our future goals. In June, Nunez will graduate with 4.59 GPA. But he wasn't always an all-star student. JORGENUNEZ.mp4 37:08 I think in elementary school and in middle school, I kinda had a slump. I didn't really see the purpose of studying. I thought it was boring, and I didn't have a purpose at the time. When he was a freshman, he went to his brother's graduation where he saw that year's valedictorian give his speech. That's when he decided to turn his life around. JORGENUNEZ.mp4 06:46:00 I went to his graduation, and I saw valedictorian, and they were number one, they were giving a speech. And they're being very recognized. And I wanted to do that to be recognized for my parents. His hard work earned him a spot at UC Berkeley where he'll study electrical engineering and computer science as a first-generation college student. Nunez says he understands a valedictorian speech is not THAT important in the context of a pandemic, but he's still disappointed. JORGENUNEZ.mp4 06:58:00 Beginning of 10th grade I had it as a goal. For our school that's when it's starts counting for valedictorian, so I had it as a goal. But I didn't make it the only important thing. Carlos Sanchez was honored when he found out he was valedictorian of Sweetwater High in Chula Vista. But he says getting the news during an online learning session was awkward. CARLOSSANCHEZ.mp4 11:30 "When you go onto a meeting with your teacher in class, the teacher would congratulate you and then everyone else is on mute, and you're just like, thank you to the teacher." Sanchez will be studying biochemistry at Harvey Mudd College in the fall. In North County at Fallbrook High School, Valedictorian Emiliano Corona is graduating with a 4.4 GPA. EMILIANOCORONA.mp4 14:20:23 Friends, family and class of 2020, my name is Emiliano Corona, and I know what you're thinking. Yes, that is my last name, and no the virus was not named after me. However, I do understand if there was some confusion regarding the headline "Corona takes top spot." Corona is headed to Stanford to study political science and economics..The grandson of immigrants from Mexico, he said the support for minority students on the Stanford campus is one of the main reasons for his choice. EMILIANOCORONA.mp4 08:38:00 It's just the idea of seeing someone that represents you in a place that you could never see yourself. That's really empowering to my family and how I view the world. Arushi Dogra is the valedictorian at Del Norte High School in the Poway Unified School District. She and her friends were sad so many end-of-the-year events were canceled. But Dogra she says the journey was well worth it. ARUSHIDOGRA.mp4 02:37:00 In high school I learned to take a lot of initiative by myself. Whether it be clubs that I started or which classes to take, those decisions were completely mine. And it helped me with decision making. I'm usually pretty indecisive about things. And also just like planning my own future in a way. She's graduating with a 4.59 GPA and attending Yale where she hopes to study microbiology. Looking ahead, she's anxious about being surrounded by equally accomplished students. But there's a lot to be excited about. ARUSHIDOGRA.mp4 09:58:00 It's definitely intimidating. But it's also exciting in a way. I'm excited to meet people that have the same interests as me, have had the same similar experiences as me, and yeah. Joe Hong, KPBS News. *** As if a global pandemic wasn’t enough to worry about. Now, we’ve got murder hornets on the list of things that pose a potentially big threat. The buzz about the murderous bugs has been growing louder in recent weeks. Well, murder hornets are actually called "Asian giant hornets,” and while they’ve created quite a scare for West-coast humans, especially those who keep bees, a top bug expert at U-C Davis tells us there’s nothing to worry about. Cap Radio's Steve Milne [Notes:MILL-nee] explains. Entomologist Lynn Kimsey is director of the Bohart [Notes:BOW-hart] Museum of Entomology at U-C Davis. Kimsey says Asian giant hornets are dangerous - but not in the United States, and not to humans. "In Asia, they actually do prey on honeybees. They've got huge jaws and they just basically decapitate the bees." That's why U.S. beekeepers worry the insect could cripple their industry if they become established in North America. There was a colony detected - and eradicated - about nine months ago in British Columbia. Then a single dead hornet was found in Blaine, Washington last December. But Kimsey says it's highly unlikely that a nest of Asian giant hornets would make its way across the Pacific Ocean to the west coast. First it would have to survive the trip and then it has to get off the container ship or whatever it was on to find food and establish a colony. There's another reason we shouldn't fear the hornets: "One of my former graduate students teaches in Taipei and he posted a Facebook page where he described Asian giant hornets as being tasty and tastes like French fries, because they eat them there." Fried larvae is considered a delicacy in parts of Asia. "In terms of rating your danger, your neighbor coughing on you is far more dangerous than this thing could ever be - plus you can't eat your neighbor." And reporting from Sacramento, that was Cap Radio’s Steve Milne. *** Governor Gavin Newsom wants everyone in California to vote by mail this November election. Newsom said the order was to protect the public from potential COVID-19 health risks involved in voting at a polling place. But now state and national Republican groups, along with San Diego Congressional candidate Darrell Issa, have sued the governor over the plan. The lawsuits take issue with Newsom’s authority to mandate voting by mail and claim the order violates state law and the U.S. Constitution. Thad Kousser, chair of the political science department at UC San Diego, joined KPBS Midday Edition’s Maureen Cavanaugh to discuss the governor's plan and the reasons why groups are suing over it. A lawsuit like this may be filed in order to, to make a point and, and, and lay out an initial argument. So we're still trying to figure out how hold an election during a pandemic. What governor Newsome's executive branch executive order said was send a ballot to vote by mail for every registered voter in the state, but legislatures, uh, local registrars, we want to work together over the next month or two to come up with a plan to provide in-person voting options for those who need and demand it, which even though most Californians want to vote by mail, there are still lots of people who for many legitimate reasons want to have an in person option. And so there's still a lot of debate about what those impersonal options might look like. And, and this may, these lawsuits, I don't want to speak for those who follow them, but they may be in part trying to influence that process as well as as the legal question. Speaker 1: 03:36 Sticking with mail, voting by mail for just a moment. Does mail in ballot, does male voting favor one party over another? Speaker 2: 03:45 Absolutely not. In California, in our long history of voting by mail, we have a strong record showing that it doesn't advantage one party over another. So there's a new study just published in a prominent journal. It shows is California phased in a, this model of voting through vote by mail ballots and vote centers. We've seen absolutely no change in, in the democratic versus Republican share of who turns out and who people vote for. And in a new study that a group of UC professors and I just released on Friday in a large pole of California, in done in April, we find that Republicans are just as likely as Democrats to say, I want to vote by mail in this selection. Speaker 1: 04:26 So why does it seem that Republicans from president Donald Trump, but to the Republican national committee, to the Republicans in the Senate, they are the ones who are fighting, making Malin voting more broadly acceptable throughout the States. Speaker 2: 04:44 You know, there's a split within the Republican party. Uh, president Trump has been talking a lot about voting by mail, and he has outracing evidence or, or clear points. He's, he's, he's said that it can lead to fraud and, but it's not that one. It ha we haven't seen, we've seen vanishingly small rates of voter fraud done through voting by mail, but one that was done was fewer Republican. Uh, to help a Republican candidate in a North Carolina congressional race. But there are lots of Republican elections officials and governors and state legislatures that are moving towards having more vote by mail option CC, red States as well as blue States expanding this option because people, both parties demand it. And so this has led the president to be at odds. So last week he was tweaked being attacking the Republican secretary of state in Nevada for expanding vote by voting by mail in that state. So it's not a unified red and blue thing and certainly among Republican voters in California, it's something that's strongly supported. Speaker 1: 05:44 Now we spoke to the San Diego County register of voters, Michael VU, just after the governor announced his mailing ballot plan. This is what he said on the issue of fraud Speaker 2: 05:55 in our, in our County, in our, let me just Speaker 3: 05:57 talk about San Diego County. As they mentioned before. 70, we're in the 70th percentile in terms of people that are voting by mail. I haven't seen any systemic issues with a fraudulent activity occurring with a vote by email. Uh, there are a number of safeguards in place associated with voting by mail. Speaker 1: 06:16 And what are some of those safeguards that, Speaker 2: 06:18 well, the most important safeguard is your signature. So whenever you first registered to vote, uh, your signature, when on file went to your County registrar's office, and when you send in a vote about, they will compare that against that signature. Um, in fact, you know, one thing people worry about is, is it too many vote by mail bouts about 1% are thrown out because the signature doesn't match because maybe our signatures change over the year, but that makes it almost impossible to take someone's ballot, sign it, uh, fraudulently and send it back in. There's that signature check is hard work done by registrar's office. It is a strong safe card. Speaker 1: 06:54 Now, Darryl, as I said, as I said, who is, uh, one of the plaintiffs in this lawsuit challenging the mail in ballots, he in particular, he was helped in the March election by the number of mail in ballots that were sent in, in the 50th district. So it seems like a contradiction. San Diego already has a great reliance on mailing ballots. How do you think mailing voting impacts the 50th district race in particular? Speaker 2: 07:20 Well, one of the things that we see, uh, with Malin ballots in this election, right during this pandemic when people's health is, are threatened, especially to help them senior citizens, is, is that for older and older voters, they're more and more enthusiastic about casting a ballot. Denounce you say, what's your first preference? What's the way you want to cast your bounce? Sending it in by the mail? Uh, about 39% of young voters say they want to send it in and then more people want to drop it off, but about 67% of senior citizen voters. So I think they're going to be a lot of voters. And you also see voters, rural areas embracing voting by mail. So I think there will be a lot of voters in the 50th district, perhaps a Daryl ISIS base who will favor folding by mail. And so I think this movement to the governor's executive order, which creates both in-person options but also sends a vote by mail ballot to every voter that will help a lot of voters in the city in the 50th who may actually be casting about for their license. And that was Thad Kousser, chair of the political science department at UC San Diego, talking with Midday Edition’s Maureen Cavanaugh. Subscribe to Midday Edition wherever you listen to podcasts. *** I’m mostly a hot mess when it comes to dealing with the stress of the pandemic, but I have managed to do a few positive things, like, I’ve been running, which is new for me. Well, I’ve heard from lots you out there who have very wisely used the pandemic as an opportunity to work hard on self improvement. This Union-Tribune reporter is one of them. I really do love hearing about all these positive ways people have found to weather the pandemic. Call me and tell me what new rituals you’ve come up with because of COVID-19: Just call 619) 452-0228‬ and leave a voicemail with your name, where you live, and a short story about how the pandemic has changed you. OK, that’s all for today. Thanks for listening.

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A recently renovated Super 8 motel in South San Diego will now serve as temporary housing for homeless families affected by the COVID-19 pandemic. Also on KPBS’ San Diego News Matters podcast: valedictorians from across the county talk about what it's like to earn this honor during a pandemic, murder hornets and more local news you need.