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Evacuations Ordered In Valley Fire

 September 8, 2020 at 5:02 AM PDT

Firefighters are battling a blaze in East County for the third day. Monday’s effort focused on the Lyons road area east of Jamul. Several hundred firefighters from the San Diego region are working the fire, with some back up from Orange County. They're being assisted by a DC-10 as well as 14 helicopters and 8 air tankers. They were also aided by Red Cross volunteers at an evacuation center at Joan MacQueen Middle School. Volunteers served hot meals and water to nearly 90 people escaping the Valley Fire. Danielle Belliveau is an Alpine resident who fled her home with her pets on Saturday afternoon. I got my trailer out, got the dogs in the truck, almost forgot the cat, got the cat in, grabbed food and prayed that the horses would load because at this point the flames were right in my backyard, and they basically surrounded us. And, as you might have guessed, the pandemic is complicating such relief efforts. So, the Red Cross partnered with local hotels and motels to provide shelter for evacuees.. And it teamed up with the humane society to shelter pets and animals. The Valley Fire has burned more than 17,000 acres...and destroyed at least 11 structures since it started Saturday afternoon. As of late monday night, it’s 3% contained. People who work to put on large scale events, like concerts and shows, pushed empty gear cases from Waterfront Park to the San Diego Convention Center. They marched to raise awareness of the impact the pandemic has had on the events industry. Bans on mass gatherings have left over 200-thousand San Diegans out of work. And there’s no re-opening in sight, for now. Frank Gangemi is the owner of Pacific Creative Productions. He says the event industry will look different in the future to ensure safety and sanitation. "Obviously social distancing, obviously wash stations where you can get hand sanitizer or cleaning." This "Case March" hopes to push for additional relief funding for the events industry...and also for a roadmap to safely reopen events. More cases of COVID-19 were reported at SDSU over the holiday weekend. County public health officials now say there are nearly 300 confirmed or probable cases since late August, when fall classes started. A stay-at-home order is in effect for students through Tuesday morning. Those who violate the order face disciplinary action. A month-long pause has been put in place for in-person classes, as the university shifted all instruction to remote learning last week. I’m Anica Colbert. It’s Tuesday, September 8th. You’re listening to San Diego News Matters from KPBS News...a daily morning news podcast powered by all of the reporters, editors and producers in the KPBS Newsroom. Stay with me for more of the local news you need to start your day. Wildfire smoke is all over California, and doctors are warning everyone to stay inside - especially small children. The chemicals and tiny particles in the air could damage the lungs, immune systems and brain development of children. CapRadio's Sammy Caiola has more. Scientists don't have much research on children exposed to wildfire smoke …. Because we've only had intense, prolonged fire seasons for the last few years. But they think the effect might be similar to what happens when children are exposed to bad air pollution: their lungs never fully develop, and some have chronic breathing issues later in life. There have been some studies showing that kids who were exposed to wildfire smoke had weakened immune responses 90 days later. And that the smoke is more toxic when the fire burns houses and buildings than if it just burns trees. Some scientists are looking at whether pregnant mothers who breathe in wildfire smoke can pass the chemicals to their fetuses … and whether that will lead to neurological issues down the line. SOC A COVID-19 vaccine trial kicked off in San Diego on (Tuesday). UC San Diego is partnering with a pharmaceutical company for the Phase III vaccine trial….one that's being tested around the world. UCSD’s Dr. Susan Little is the principal investigator for the San Diego tria, and she spoke with KPBS Midday Edition. Little said they will use a mobile vaccine clinic, otherwise known as a bus– to reach out to communities that have been hardest hit by COVID. "Which in San Diego are primarily communities of color in the South Bay and east counties. And those communities, I think, have the greatest opportunity to benefit from an effective vaccine." San Diego's Chicano Federation voiced concern about the study for, quote, using people of color for experimental medical treatments. UCSD says anyone taking part in the trial must give their informed consent, to ensure they understand all the risks and benefits. COVID-19 shut down the film industry but the City of San Diego's Film Office is open again, now with new pandemic guidelines. They also have some new tools for anyone who wants to shoot here. KPBS’ Beth Accomando reports. The film industry, which often requires people working in close quarters, has faced challenges trying to restart during COVID-19. But in June, the San Diego Film Office reopened with new guidelines for shooting. And now Filming Program Manager Brandy Shimabukuro is excited to unveil a new interactive tool to make filming in San Diego easier. BRANDY SHIMABUKURO: We're calling it the San Diego filming jurisdiction map… it's an interactive map that's available online. It's free and open to the public to access. It's free and open to the public to access… when you open it up, if a production has a list of locations and they aren't sure who they need to work with… This map will ultimately point them in the direction so that they know who at their fingertips, they know who they are they would need to reach out to. Shimabukuro hopes this map will assist productions of any size or budget as film work slowly increases in San Diego. Beth Accomando, KPBS News. A bill to phase out single use plastics in California by 2030 failed to pass the state assembly in recent weeks. AB 10-80 was authored by San Diego Assemblymember Lorena Gonzales. Meanwhile, the University of California has resolved to do it on their own - to phase out single use plastics on their 10 campuses over the next decade. Veronica Michels is UCSD's student organiser for the california public research interest group - the non-profit that lobbied for the change. She spoke with KPBS Midday Edition host Alison St. John about how plastic is hurting not just the environment but humans as well. Here’s that interview... "Primarily so much of this plastic ends up... ...algea that's biodegradable." That was Veronica Michels, UCSD's student organiser for the california public research interest group - the non-profit that lobbied for the change. Coming up on San Diego News Matters… Some psychologists at the Department of Veterans Affairs say Black veterans have higher rates of mental issues...and that may be due to stress from racial discrimination and trauma. "This idea yeah, we're all green and these types of slogans, they instill the notion that racial differences are not important in the military." That’s up next after this break. Researchers with the Department of Veterans Affairs say Black veterans have higher rates of mental health issues like P-T-S-D, compared with white veterans. They say that’s because of stress from racial discrimination and trauma. Now they’ve started an effort to help Black veterans recognize and deal with those challenges. Emily Elena Dugdale reports for the American Homefront Project. __________________ PTSDRACE 3:47 soq Army veteran Jared McBride served in the military for 22 years, rising to the rank of captain. In 2009 McBride, who's Black, volunteered to become a commander for a unit headed to Afghanistan. But that didn't happen. 3:42 MCBRIDE: My boss was white, and he gave it to another white guy. (0:03) A white guy McBride said wasn't as qualified as he was. McBride said this- and other bad experiences - chewed away at him for years. MCBRIDE: One of my fellow officers was like man, McBride, you are just, whoo. You just, [Notes:laughs] you have some anger issues, man. McBride eventually left the military and decided to seek mental health care at his local St. Louis. He was diagnosed with depression and anxiety. And as his treatment continued, he was offered the chance to take part in one of the V-A's first programs that addresses how racism affects veterans' mental health. V.A. psychologists across the country had begun to recognize that as something that was too often ignored. SHAWAHIN: Our book that kind of has all our diagnostic criteria which is the DSM-5, it doesn't recognize racial trauma.That's Dr. Lamise [Notes:La-MEES] Shawahin [Notes:SHA-wah-heen] , who used to work at the VA in Chicago. And the book she's talking about, the DSM-5? That's what psychologists use to diagnose a patient. SHAWAHIN: Experiencing racism was turning into like people being labeled with pathology, when really they were just experiencing racism. Shawahin and other V.A. psychologists instead zeroed in on how racial discrimination contributes to things like post traumatic stress disorder, depression and anxiety in people of color. Studies have shown that veterans of color have higher rates of mental health issues like PTSD than white veterans, even when controlling for where they were deployed and the pressures of returning from war. Shawahin says part of the problem is that the military pushes the concept of colorblindness, but that exacerbates race-based stress by emphasizing sameness. SHAWAHIN: This idea yeah, we're all green and these types of slogans, they instill the notion that racial differences are not important in the military. Veterans of color also don't use the V.A.'s mental health services as much as they could. And some stop seeking help altogether because they become dissatisfied with their care. Shawahin and other V.A. psychologists got a grant in 2018 to create the program to help veterans identify racism as the source of at least some of their anxiety. The model was group meetings for veterans of color. VA officials declined to be interviewed about the program or provide information about it. But several veterans talked to me about how the sessions worked. Army Veteran Jared McBride joined one of the first small groups in St. Louis. He said the psychologist would start by writing a topic whiteboard. McBride: Let's just say police brutality. He would get into what does that look like to you? And how do you feel about that? (0:07) McBride said it was the first time anyone had ever talked to the veterans in his group about how the racism they endured every day affected their mental health. McBride: We got some guys holding on to this thing for YEARS. And so when you bring up different topics, and different things sometimes it gets emotional and explosive. (0:08) In 2018 Army Veteran Bernadette Spiller cautiously joined one of the groups in St. Louis after seeing a flyer in the V.A. hallway. SPILLER: I didn't want to go to therapy because I looked at it as like a sign of weakness. But she sat herself down at a group session. And after sitting in a few meetings and listening to others speak, she realized that so many stressors in her life were being triggered by racism. SPILLER: It kind of gives you like an arsenal of being able to go into your little treasure chest and say, Okay, well I've heard that somebody experienced it this way. Veterans said the group gives them mechanisms for coping with racism, so they feel safer while grappling with painful memories and experiences. I'm Emily Elena Dugdale. This story was produced by Emily Elena Dugdale for the American Homefront Project, a public media collaboration that reports on American military life and veterans. Funding comes from the Corporation for Public Broadcasting. That’s it for the podcast today, thanks for listening.

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Extreme fire seasons seem to be the new normal in the American West. The spate of lightning-sparked blazes that recently blanketed California in unhealthy smoke and wildfires is just the most recent reminder. Closer to home, CalFire reported a new evacuation order for Corte Madera, south of Pine Valley on Monday afternoon.. The order followed earlier evacuation mandates for Corral Canyon off-road area, Bob Cat Meadows and Los Pinos. The U.S. Forest Service also announced the closure of many national forests due to the ongoing fire danger, including Cleveland National Forest. Plus, event workers marched today from Waterfront Park to the San Diego Convention Center with empty gear cases symbolizing the void of events this year and the impact the pandemic has brought to the events industry.