A Spike In Local COVID-19 Cases
The local COVID-19 numbers are raising red flags. County Supervisor Nathan Fletcher says the latest metrics are a reminder that the pandemic is far from over. our message to the public today is very clear. Uh, the dangers from Corona virus are real. They are present and we are seeing increases in cases and percentage of cases, positive, uh, and in community outbreaks. And we continue to implore the public to please heed the warnings and advice. Uh, the things that are put in place around face covering physical distancing. Hand-washing. Temperature checks. San Diego County health officials Monday reported another three community outbreaks, raising the number reported in the last week to 10. That’s the most in any week's span since the pandemic began in early March. County officials also reported 302 new COVID-19 infections on Monday... the second-largest increase since the pandemic began. The largest increase in cases yet came just a day before on Sunday, when 310 tests were reported as positive. Sunday’s positive test rate was 7 percent and Monday’s positive test rate was 5 percent… The 14-day moving average positive rate is still hovering around 3 percent… But if the trend continues and the positive test rate gets to 8 percent, that will be yet another of the county’s 13 triggers that could send us back into lockdown. In response to the numbers… the county says it is increasing public awareness about facial coverings and that it will block any possible future sectors from opening, even if the state may permit them to do so. *** Monday’s message from the governor struck a similar somewhat alarming tone. California Gov. Gavin Newsom implored people Monday to wear face coverings to protect against the coronavirus and allow businesses to safely open. He urged Californians to stay vigilant. Those that suggest we're out of the woods. Those that suggest that somehow is going to disappear. Uh, these numbers tell a very, very, uh, different and sobering story, Over the past several days, the state saw its highest virus hospitalizations and number of infections to date. *** From KPBS, I’m Kinsee Morlan, and you’re listening to San Diego News Matters, a podcast powered by our reporters, producers and editors. It’s Tuesday, June 23. Stay with me for more of the local news you need. It's yet another side effect of the coronavirus pandemic -- a spike in human trafficking targetting children who are spending more time online. KPBS Education Reporter Joe Hong spoke to investigators and advocates about what parents can do to monitor youth behavior while schools are out. DANIELDIERDORFF.mp3 You really have to think about this as modern day slavery It seems counterintuitive that reports of human trafficking are up while everyone is sheltering in place. But Detective Dan Dierdorff with the San Diego Human Trafficking Task Force isn't surprised because many minors have been at home, spending more time on their phones and social media. DANIELDIERDORFF.mp3 Social media is… it's good but it has its downfalls. You have a lot of catfishing going on. They're representing somebody else to the victim or survivor. They start promising them things. Like I promise you.. You're so beautiful, you're so cute, you're so smart. According to the San Diego County District Attorney's Office, reports of internet crime against juveniles in the County, which mostly involve sharing illicit photos of minors, have tripled since the pandemic started. In April of 2019, there were 287 reports in the county. This April, the number shot up to more than 850. The spike locally mirrors a trend throughout the United States and across the world. REBECCASTERNBERG.mp4 It's due to a variety of factors... Rebecca Sternberg oversees the Cyber Tipline at the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children. In April 2019, the national tipline received about one million reports of child exploitation online. This April, the Center received more than four million reports. REBECCASTERNBERG.mp4 00:00:39:07 With kids being home, parents being home due to stay at home orders. Schools being closed. Children just have more access to being online. More access to devices that get on the internet. Dierdorff's team, which focuses on sex trafficking cases in the San Diego region, conducted 12 rescues between March and May of this year, more than double what they did during the same months last year. The investigation often begins when friends and family report changes in a young person's behavior. DANIELDIERDORFF.mp3 Let's say we receive a report from a parent concerned that their child is leaving home a lot, they come home with more than one phone. All of a sudden they have money with them.. Their boyfriends are older.. And there's no explanation for it. Even before the pandemic, human trafficking was a top priority for local law enforcement. As a border region , San Diego County is especially vulnerable. District Attorney Summer Stephan said her office has focused on prevention. SUMMERSTEPHAN.mp4 We simply don't talk to our kids about these issues. That's why they're kind of sitting ducks for exploitation. Last year, Stephan's office launched the San Diego Trafficking Prevention Collective, which created a curriculum to help children detect when someone is trying to exploit them online. SUMMERSTEPHAN.mp4 All of the different buzzwords. All of the information that is subverted. In the world of investigating these cases, they'll use roses instead of money. That's a communication of trading sex for money. Stephan says local investigators have to keep up with the constantly changing methods of perpetrators. But she said social media platforms aren't doing enough to help. SUMMERSTEPHAN.mp4 Social platforms they don't really adjust. They're looking for huge red flags that by law they have to intercept and they're not looking for subtleties that we know about in law enforcement. Dierdorff says the fight against these crimes begins in the home. During a time of social distancing, he said it's more important than ever for parents to make sure their kids feel cared for at home so they don't become vulnerable to the flattery that leads to exploitation. DANIELDIERDORFF.mp3 A lot of it is the responsibility of the parents. I think the most important thing for us as individuals as a whole is just communication with each other. And opening up and finding out what the other person's going through. If you can't gain the trust of individuals in your family or individuals in your community, you're losing half the battle. If you suspect that a minor you know is being exploited online, you can submit a report at report.cybertip.org. Kpbs education reporter, Joe Hong. *** San Diego is expected to miss out on millions of dollars in state affordable housing funds due to be approved this week. Nicole Capretz is a local environmentalist who sits on a state council that oversees the program. She says they've discussed ways to help out counties that frequently miss out on the funds. I know that as the strategic growth council this summer reevaluates the guidelines, a piece of that conversation will be around that issue. And just to state for the record, I'm just as frustrated as everyone else. KPBS metro reporter Andrew Bowen has the story. AB: The Affordable Housing and Sustainable Communities program supports low-income housing construction and green transportation infrastructure, like public transit upgrades. Five projects in San Diego County applied for funding. Not one of them is recommended to receive it. Meanwhile LA and the Bay Area are recommended for more than 400 million dollars — almost three quarters of the total funding. Colin Parent is executive director of Circulate San Diego, a nonprofit that advocates for affordable housing and public transit. He says the region deserves more from the state. CP: It's only fair that every region gets an equal amount of participation -- and I think that's especially true for the San Diego region that really stepped up this time and brought some real resources to bear to make some competitive applications. AB: One reason San Diego is missing out: The program prioritizes housing near trains stations, which the county doesn't have many of. Anne Wilson is director of development for Chelsea Investment Corporation, which sought grant funding for an affordable housing development in Clairemont. She says San Diego's affordable housing and homelessness crises are only getting worse. AW: The only way we can fix that is by building larger affordable housing projects and building them faster. And without AHSC award, this is going to slow things down and be very difficult to build in the scale and size that we need to solve these problems. AB: The grant awards are due to be officially approved by a state oversight council on Thursday. *** Affirmative Action...remember that? That was a program that allowed hiring practices favoring candidates based on race, ethnicity and sex. It was banned by California more than two decades ago. But….it could be making a comeback. California voters eliminated affirmative action by approving proposition 209 in 1996. Now, Assemblywoman Shirley Weber, a San Diego Democrat, has authored a new bill that would put the issue before voters again this fall. Her bill passed the state Assembly and is now in the Senate. Weber told Midday Edition host Alison St.John what it would do exactly. What it would do is basically remove the ban, uh, prop two nine, put a ban on all, um, issues that might deal with race or gender in the area. Employment, um, and, uh, admission school admissions, as well as contracting. And this bill basically lifts the ban, takes us back to the original, uh, affirmative action programs that existed, uh, under the federal guidelines back in the sixties. So it, uh, it is designed to address the issue of racial inequality. Uh, by making sure that we remove all barriers to, uh, individuals who may be qualified to attend institutions or employment, or even contracting, and your bill by itself, doesn't reverse the ban on affirmative action, but rather asks voters to decide, is that right? Exactly. It has been 24 years since pop tool nine went into effect, and we think after 24 years, the people of California should decide whether or not it's working for them, whether it's not creating the kind of workforce that we want and the kind of educational environment that we need in California. So it's been 24 years and it was passed during a time of tremendous racial division. Fostered by our governor, Pete Wilson at the time who was attacking a bilingual education, attacking diversity and all those kinds of things. We had his, he had high aspirations of running for president and he thought that the divisive thing that he was going to do was basically going to allow him to move into the white house. And it didn't, but it had an adverse effect, all of those things and an adverse effect in California. What would you say has been the effects of the state's ban on affirmative action? I mean, did it increased diversity on college campuses? No, it did not. And those who thought it would hurt it, it did not do that, but it did decrease some of the engagement and, and it did increase decrease for, uh, and many of our schools or professional schools, our law schools or med schools, those kinds of places where we had. You know, maybe 20% of our students with kids of color went down to one or two students. Um, when we look at what happened in San Diego, particularly in era of contracting in the nineties, doing affirmative action, we had, uh, contracting in the city of San Diego, where about 30 to 40% of all of our contracts went to, uh, women and minorities and veterans and disabled. And when I was. Cheer of the citizens equal opportunity commission in 2010, that number had gone from 30, 40% down to one and a half percent for all of them. So what we've seen is that particularly in the area of contracting that the numbers have gone down dismally. And the interesting thing is that when prop tool nine came into effect, everyone thought it was about the universities. They thought it was about admissions to college and what it really was about business, because it was. Funded by the bids by the building industry and the businesses began to, but they funded, uh, prop two Oh nine. And as a result, they were the ones who have benefited immensely from, um, from a proposition two Oh nine. And the rest of the communities that exist in the city have, uh, have lost contracts, have lost businesses and many have moved away because they can't survive in California. So assembly woman Weber. I wanted to ask you some might say that taking race into account when making a decision about hiring and college admissions is its own form of discrimination. That's what they argued when doing nine passed. What's your response to that argument? You know, there are many things that this, that, uh, that, uh, we take into consideration and, and oftentimes people will focus on that, but nobody takes into consideration that our universities give preference to athletes, our universities and employment. Give, give preference to a legacy that if your parents went to that school, you get. Special treatment. And the bottom line is that you can't look at a system as our system does, that has been built on discrimination, continues to promote discrimination and then turn around because someone says, wait a minute, this has been unfair. Uh, let's change the name of the game. Let's change the rules and regulations can. So people want to say that, Oh, it's reverse discrimination. It is not diverse discrimination. It is basically trying to level the playing field so that everyone has, is able to compete and to be successful. That was Assemblywoman Shirley Weber talking with Midday Edition host Alison St.John. To hear the rest of the conversation, search for and subscribe to Midday Edition wherever you get your podcasts. *** So, with COVID numbers spiking locally, what are you thinking about or worrying about or hoping for? Call me at (619) 452-0228, leave a voicemail and let me know what you want to know about the local response to the pandemic. Thanks. And Thanks for listening.