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With SDSU Cases, County On Verge Of More Restrictions

 September 17, 2020 at 5:10 AM PDT

There are now more than 700 cases of Covid-19 among San Diego State University students. Local officials argue that the state should not count the SDSU cases as part of San Diego County’s coronavirus metrics. On Wednesday, Governor Gavin Newsom didn't appear willing to budge on whether students could be excluded from the data count. "You can't isolate as if its on an island. a campus community as is part of a larger community, so the answer is no." If infection rates remain high, San Diego could move from a less restrictive red tier into purple tier status as early as next week. That change would require many non-essential indoor businesses to close. More than 2,000 Students living on campus at SDSU are now required to get tested for coronavirus. About a third of the current cases are from people living on campus. Local health officials say the rest live within blocks of the school -- health officials cannot require testing for students who live off campus. Many students KPBS talked to liked the idea of requiring testing. Jose Rosales is a junior living on campus. He has underlying medical conditions including high blood pressure and kidney issues. It's been kinda scary because it feels like you're playing tag or hide and go seek with something deadly. Rosales was tested on campus for the first time yesterday. He said the process took less than 5 minutes. It’s Thursday, september 17th. This is San Diego News Matters from KPBS News...a daily morning news podcast powered by everyone in the KPBS Newsroom. I’m Anica Colbert. Stay with me for more of the local news you need to start your day. There still isn't a clear timeline for when we’ll get a COVID-19 vaccine. But Scripps Health is already preparing for when that day comes. The hospital chain has formed a vaccine committee who will be responsible for reviewing vaccines for patients and employees at Scripps hospitals. KPBS Reporter Joe Hong explains why the hospital system is taking these precautions…. Considering how many vaccines are being developed and how quickly they might become available, this review committee's job is to make sure Scripps chooses the best ones for its patients and staff. Chris Van Groder is the president and CEO of Scripps Health. So we are going to be responsible to answer a lot of questions that our employees will have, our doctors will have and frankly the patients are already coming to doctors to ask about vaccines. Scripps is one of the largest hospital systems in San Diego County with over 15-thousand employees serving around 600,000 patients each year. The vaccine committee is made up of experts across all fields of medicine from pediatrics to infectious diseases. Joe Hong KPBS News. Preservationists are sounding the alarm over the future of the North Chapel at Liberty Station. They say a developer's plans to change the historic structure into an events and entertainment venue will actually gut the building. KPBS’ John Carroll reports. The company that holds the lease on the North Chapel, Pendulum Property Partners out of Irvine, has already received approval from both the federal and state governments to transform the chapel into a place that can host parties and dances. But historic preservationist Ron Slayen, who's been working for years to save the chapel, says their plans would ruin everything that makes the chapel historic. "All the pews were to be removed, the kneelers, the confessional, there were walls that were going to be taken down, they were going to remove some of the stained glass windows." After federal and state approval, the plans have come back to the city of San Diego, whose staff have rejected them. The matter next goes to the planning commission and then on to the full city council. We reached out to Pendulum for a comment, but no one got back to us. JC, KPBS News. Years of explosive wildfires have made it harder and more expensive for some Californians to insure their homes. It’s even harder for people living in high wildfire risk areas. State Insurance Commissioner Ricardo Lara wants to develop consistent "home-hardening" standards based in fire science...and apply those standards to all insurance companies. "Currently there's a patchwork of different standards that residents adhere to but then there's no guarantee of coverage or any type of incentive to harden your home, to do the community mitigation standards." Lara says he'll be convening a virtual-hearing on October 19th with consumers, first-responders and the insurance industry. He aims to help stabilize the insurance market while protecting lives and homes. Major League Baseball says San Diego will host the American League championship next month. They made the announcement on Tuesday. KPBS’ Jacob Aere examines whether bringing the playoffs to Petco Park will bring an economic boost to the region. Petco Park will host the American League Division Series, beginning October 6, and the American League Championship Series, beginning October 11. The playoff tournament schedule was formulated in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. It was inspired by the "bubble" concept employed by the NBA and NHL which aims to limit outside interaction with players and move games to a neutral location. There won't be fans in the stands at Petco Park. But Bub's Bar manager Allie Garibay says fans still follow their teams and patronize local businesses. "Its definitely going to be very helpful to us. It'll extend our summer season and our baseball season." The playoff schedule will culminate with MLB's first neutral-site World Series, played at the home of the Rangers in Arlington, Texas. Jacob Aere, KPBS News. Every Thursday, Cap Radio’s Politi-Fact California reporter Chris Nichols joins us for “Can You Handle The Truth?” a weekly conversation about his latest fact-checks and reporting on mis-information. He spoke with Cap Radio’s Steve Milne. BODY 3:41 [[STEVE:] Chris, it’s been a busy week … you’ve worked on fact checks dealing with the Postal Service, wildfires and President Trump’s visit to California. Let’s start with the one you did on a postcard that was mailed out nationwide by the Postal Service but led to some confusion for voters. [CHRIS:] This card landed in mailboxes last week. And it advises people to “plan ahead” if they want to vote by mail -- which is definitely good advice. But it also asks voters to request their mail-in ballot 15 days before Election Day. This caused confusion because a new state law in California already requires counties to automatically send out mail-in ballots. So, if you’re a registered voter and you’ve participated in recent elections, you don’t need to make any request, at all. Elections officials in Sacramento and Yolo counties even released statements last week telling voters that the Postal Service’s specific advice -- about requesting a ballot -- just doesn’t apply to most voters here in California. [STEVE:] Chris, there’s also been misinformation on social media about the cause of the wildfires both here and in Oregon and Washington. What is PolitiFact finding on that topic? [CHRIS:] My colleagues at PolitiFact in D.C. checked this out. And they found a host of false social media claims -- all of which blamed Antifa for intentionally starting these fires especially up in Oregon. Antifa is a loose and broad coalition of left-wing activists. They’ve been a big part of the racial justice demonstrations in Portland this summer. But there is no evidence that Antifa started any of the fires on the West Coast. [STEVE:] What has law enforcement said about these claims? [CHRIS:] Both fire and law enforcement officials -- including Portland’s FBI office -- have all debunked these rumors. It’s important to note what the FBI wrote on Twitter this weekend: They said: “Conspiracy theories and misinformation take valuable resources away from local fire and police agencies working around the clock to bring these fires under control.” They went on to say “Please help our entire community by only sharing validated information from official sources.” [STEVE:] Finally, Chris, you fact-checked President Trump during his visit to Sacramento this week. What did you find? [CHRIS:] I focused on what was really a striking exchange the president had with California Secretary for Natural Resources Wade Crowfoot. And Crowfoot urged the president to acknowledge the role of climate change in making the fires worse. We have some sound from that. First you’ll hear Crowfoot, and then you’ll hear a couple claims by the president. Trump 2way sound bite: But I think we want to work with you to really recognize the changing climate and what it means to our forests and actually work together with that science. That science is going to be key. Because if we ignore that science and sort of put our head in the sand and think it’s all about vegetation management, we’re not going to succeed together protecting Californians,” Crowfoot said. "Ok, it’ll start getting cooler, you just watch,” Trump replied. "I wish science agreed with you,” Crowfoot added. “I don’t think science knows, actually,” Trump responded. (:27) [CHRIS:] Starting with Trump’s claim that it’s going to get “cooler,” climate scientists say there is just no evidence to support that. The consensus among them is that the climate is warming, that climate change is a key factor in making fires worse and that we should expect more days of extreme heat and fire danger. [STEVE:] President Trump also talked about forest management, which he says is the way to prevent wildfires. You’ve looked at that before. [CHRIS:] The president has over and over talked about clearing trees and even raking leaves in California and he did that again in Sacramento. And he’s not wrong that forest management is an important part of preventing these massive fires. California officials agree on that. But experts say it’s just one element. The other big factors are things like urban sprawl, and climate change. Finally, while both the state and federal governments are responsible for managing the forests, it’s the federal government that owns nearly 60 percent of those forests in California. That’s a point that the president does not mention when he talks about forest management.] Cap Radio’s Politi-Fact California reporter Chris Nichols speaking with Steve Milne. You can find more fact-checks at: POLITI-FACT-dot-com-slash-CALIFORNIA. Coming up on the podcast….. the San Diego Latino Film Festival had to close on its opening day back in March because of the pandemic. Now, the festival has reinvented itself. ETHAN VAN THILLO: So we wanted to recreate the festival environment with the virtual version of this San Diego Latino Film Festival. A virtual film festival. That’s up next after this break. This year’s San Diego Latino Film Festival was supposed to open on March 12th. But that was also the day California banned public gatherings of more than 250 people because of COVID-19. So the festival canceled on it’s opening day. KPBS arts reporter Beth Accomando says the festival returns today... with 140 films online. Canceling a festival on its opening day can leave an organization in shock. ETHAN VAN THILLO: We had put all this money into putting this festival on and then, boom, it just ended. That’s Ethan Van Thillo, executive director of the San Diego Latino Film Festival. The abrupt cancelation also left the Festival facing hundreds of thousands of dollars in losses. But in the seven months that have followed supportive vendors and various grants have helped soften the financial blow. Today Van Thillo is ready for a second launch, this time online. ETHAN VAN THILLO: Flexibility is definitely the key flexibility and innovation. Innovation to recreate the festival environment in a virtual format. So films have specific show times, for example 7pm, and a ticket holder could watch an hour earlier or any time within a 24-hour window. But Van Thillo encourages people to go for the "live" experience. ETHAN VAN THILLO: So watch the film at the show time and then participate in a Q&A afterwards, just like you would do it at an in-person event. But this online model can’t generate the kind of revenue as an in-person event so Van Thillo says they’ve had to set different goals. ETHAN VAN THILLO: We have, again, over one hundred and forty movies, different filmmakers, actors that have made these wonderful films. It's about engaging them with local audiences. And so I'm really most excited about that live Q&A and virtual Q&A experience, because to me, that's been the most exciting thing to learn about these past few months, is engaging people online because people still need that connection. We want to be in person but for now it's virtual and it's still really powerful. And I think what we found is that these virtual Q&A's can be wonderful opportunities for people to engage with filmmakers and especially with filmmakers that otherwise would not be able to travel here to San Diego. The delay in holding the festival along with a move online meant losing about a third of the titles originally programmed. Most of those were bigger titles with more recognizable talent says exhibitions manager Moises Esparza. MOISES ESPARZA: The loss of those titles has definitely given some of our smaller films to kind of take the spotlight, which is really exciting. And I think it's really authentically to what a festival should be about, highlighting emerging filmmakers who may not have distribution strategies in place or distribution for that matter. And they're really relying on festivals as sort of they're their life line. Van Thillo agrees. ETHAN VAN THILLO: Those are films that we should, as local San Diegans, be supporting and try to get these more Latino voices in front of screens and more directors behind the camera. So it's important that we support these independent and maybe smaller films that we're screening at this upcoming festival. Esparza says programming is divided into showcases by tags such as Frontera for local filmmakers, Un Mundo Extrano for horror, and Somos for LGBTQ+. MOISES ESPARZA: So I encourage people to pay attention to those tags because there's a kind those are kind of our way of nudging people in the direction of interesting themes and topics that we think would appeal to them. There’s something for everyone from documentaries to smart, sexy comedies to films that tackle religion through the lenses of horror and sci-fi. There are crowd pleasers too but what’s more exciting is that there are films that push people out of their comfort zones thanks to Esparza’s daring programming. MOISES ESPARZA: We are definitely envelope pushers, at least I try to be with some of my program selections. I hope to push individuals to explore new sensibilities, different modalities. It's kind of like broaden their spectrum of what they perceive to be a good or acceptable film. And to hopefully inspire audiences and create connections while sheltering at home says Van Thillo. ETHAN VAN THILLO: I just want to encourage everyone to come together during this 11 days, celebrate Latino culture and celebrate Latino film. Let's get together and talk about these movies, talk about the issues in the movies, celebrate and support these filmmakers, because remember, it's important to support independent artists and filmmakers during this time of crisis. Buying a ticket is an easy way to show support for the festival and to encourage artists to continue their work during this pandemic. Beth Accomando, KPBS News. That was KPBS Arts Reporter Beth Accomando. San Diego Latino Film Festival runs online today through Sept 27th. Check out Beth’s Cinema Junkie Blog for more information. Also, before you go, KPBS’ Health Reporter Tarryn Mento and KPBS producer Brooke Ruth are looking for your questions about re-opening the economy during the pandemic. They’ll be interviewing local infectious disease expert Dr. Christian Ramers and want to ask him your questions. To submit your questions, go to our website at KPBS DOT ORG. You can also tweet Tarryn your question, she’s @ T-B-Mento.

San Diego county leaders have asked the state to not count college students’ cases in tallying the county’s virus infection rate. But California officials say no -- the campus community is part of the larger community, and can contribute to the spread of COVID-19. Also, Scripps Health forms a committee to assess future COVID-19 vaccines for patients and employees when they become available. Plus, this year’s San Diego Latino Film Festival relaunches today with 140 films online. The festival was originally scheduled for mid-March but had to cancel on opening day when the ban on public gatherings was first put in place.