Play Live Radio
Next Up:
Available On Air Stations
Watch Live

San Diego Stays Open

 September 23, 2020 at 2:00 AM PDT

San Diego County will remain in the "red" tier of the state's COVID-19 reopening plan for at least one more week. That means things that are open in San Diego can remain open -- for now. The news came from state officials yesterday, who cited data on the two metrics California uses to move counties from one tier to another. The county is reporting 6.9 new daily cases per 100,000 population. That is just point 1 percentage point away from 7 per 100,000 and the dreaded "purple" tier...which is the state's most restrictive. San Diego County is also posting a 3.8 percent positive testing rate for the novel coronavirus — and that is well within the lower "orange" guideline of the state's four- tier reopening system. This news is sorta surprising. Because of our rising COVID-19 numbers, lots of people were anticipating San Diego’s slip into that most restrictive tier - which would shutter indoor operations for many businesses. Ben Clevenger heads the local chapter of the California restaurant Association -- he says it's good news we're staying in the red tier, but business owners are on edge. We have to think about the future we can't think about what it's going to look like next week or next month we have to be thinking months out. I mean it's not going anywhere the virus isn't going anywhere we're well aware of that and we just have to find a nice cohesiveness where we can work with the virus and keep people safe (:20 *** The University of California system allowed improper factors like family connections to influence dozens of student admissions in recent years. That’s according to a state audit released Tuesday. It found that more than five dozen applicants were unfairly admitted to four UC campuses, including UC San Diego. The audit, which examined admissions between the academic years of 2013-14 through 2018-19, found that UCSD, UC Berkeley, UCLA and UC Santa Barbara admitted 64 applicants based on their personal or family connections to donors and university staff. The majority of the allegations were leveled at UC Berkeley, which was found to have admitted 42 students based on their families' connections to the school. *** A pair of active-duty U.S. Marines stationed at Camp Pendleton were arrested Tuesday morning on a federal grand jury indictment. It charged one of the Marines and three civilians with conspiring to distribute narcotics to civilians and members of the Marines. The other Marine was charged as an accessory after the fact. The drugs included oxycodone pills laced with fentanyl...and one marine suffered a fatal drug overdose in May after taking the drugs. *** From KPBS, I’m Kinsee Morlan...happy to be back and sitting in for Anica Colbert. It’s Wednesday, September 23 and you’re listening to San Diego News Matters, our daily news podcast powered by everyone in the KPBS Newsroom. Stay with me for more of the local news you need. A protest that had gone on for weeks at the border wall construction site has been broken up by the Border Patrol. KPBS reporter Max Rivlin-Nadler tells us two arrests were made on Monday, following a tense weekend of confrontations. AMBI: "This is the United States Border Patrol you are ordered to be vacated from this land, as per the emergency closure order" The protest was part of several separate efforts by members of the Kumeyaay nation, and its supporters, to stop wall construction. Just hours after Bureau of Land Management marshals gave notice of the closure, Border Patrol Agents arrested two protestors who remained at the construction site. BLM told protestors that it was issuing a temporary closure order to allow for blasting in the canyon they were in.The protest site had been a draw for local supporters of the Trump Administration, including one woman who physically assaulted protesters over the weekend. A legal challenge to the construction, which alleges the government has not followed the law in preserving native heritage sites, fell short of stopping the project in federal court last month. The La Posta Band of MIssion Indians is now appealing that ruling. *** Enrollment has dropped at school districts across the county during the pandemic. At San Diego Unified, the numbers for Kindergarten are especially low. Richard Barrera, THE school board vice president at San Diego Unified, listed a few possible factors. “It’s not mandatory for students to attend kindergarten, so we might have some families that are making a choice not to enroll,” “We might have other families that aren’t clear about how to enroll.” KPBS Education Reporter Joe Hong has more. San Diego Unified has about 25-hundred fewer students than it expected this year. About two-thirds of that deficit came from Kindergarten. Molly Stewart is a teacher at Ocean Beach Elementary. She said some of her families have opted for homeschooling instead of online learning through the district. STEWART.mp4 00:10:53:19 MOLLY STEWART // OCEAN BEACH ELEMENTARY TEACHER Because they're concerned about the amount of screen time for their students... For their children. And so, they're finding alternatives, and they let us know that as soon as they return to in-person because they live in our neighborhood that they'll be returning. Stewart said teachers try everything they can to keep their students, including providing more supports and flexibility. Other districts have also seen dips in enrollment. Chula Vista Elementary is down by close to 600 students. **** The south bay has been especially hard hit by COVID-19, and health officials also worry about the potential for a serious flu outbreak. That's why the National City Fire Department is offering free flu shots to the public. Fire Captain Scott Robinson says it's the only program of its kind in the state. "Everybody is welcome. Our intended population is National city residents who are uninsured or underinsured, but again, everybody is welcome throughout the County." KPBS reporter Jacob Aere has details. _____________________________________________________________________ National City's fire department has teamed up with the nursing program at Point Loma Nazarene University… offering free flu shots at fire station 34 on Tuesdays from 9 am to 1 pm. Monique Sawyer is an associate professor at the university and says she's worried about the overlap between the pandemic and the upcoming flu season. Monique Sawyer | PLNU Associate Professor of Nursing 10:43:48 - 10:44:04 "We want people to at least be protected from the flu since we don't have a COVID vaccine yet. So at least we can know that we are offering that protection, so that if they do develop symptoms that could be looking either like the COVID or the flu we can have some certainty if they've got the flu vaccine that most likely they have protection against that." The program is open to everyone in San Diego county and is expected to run through December, or until supplies run out. *** So, today, by the way, is National Great American Pot Pie Day. Yum, right? And,....Yesterday was national Voter Registration Day, and, in California, some political groups got outside to encourage residents to participate in the upcoming election in November. KPBS reporter Shalina Chatlani has the story As the deadline for online and by mail registration comes up on October 19, groups like the League of Women voters are encouraging residents to get their paperwork together and sign up to vote! The League of Women Voters set up at the Mission Branch wing of the Oceanside Library Tuesday, National Voter Registration day. One of the members, Susan Connell, says it's their mission to provide information to voters especially in a time where there is a lot of disinformation. CONNELL: It's also important for people to check their registration if they've moved if they've changed their name, so that when they do try to vote in person or by mail, their vote is counted. In California, residents can still register in person all the way up to Election Day on November 3. But to receive a mail in ballot and ballot information, voters will have to register beforehand. *** So..everyone has experienced COVID in different ways. Some, indirectly, through stay at home orders, and home schooling and shuttered businesses. Others have had it much tougher. For some communities, the after-effects of the disease are so great that the future looks unclear. KPBS reporter Tania Thorne talks to a family who lost their main breadwinner to COVID 19 and how they are trying to get back on their feet. Angelico Maldonado died on August 22nd from damages left behind by COVID-19. He spent 6 weeks on a ventilator before having to be disconnected. Originally from Oaxaca, Mexico, Maldonado came to the U.S. 35 years ago and spent over 25 years in the roofing industry in San Diego. 16:46:34 - 16:47:07 Carmen Maldonado "My father was 68 years old, retirement was not an option, at least not for him. Carmen Maldonado says the loss of her father is something the family is still trying to process emotionally and financially. 16:46:34 - 16:47:07 Carmen Maldonado "He lived with my mom majorly so he was the bigger income there… When we got COVID we were out of work for a whole month. This was definitely not something we were planning on going through. " Maldonado was uninsured when the pandemic hit. He was also undocumented. Before being hospitalized, he feared the cost of medical care and being deported if he sought help. A fear that lives in many Latinos. Roberto Alcantar with the Chicano Federation says many Latinos have recently found themselves in this situation. ROBERTO ALCANTAR/CHICANO FEDERATION (9:03 - 9:18) "We've seen the Latino community completely devastated in terms of positive cases that have been identified, with cases being close to 71% of cases that are positive are in the Latino community yet the Latino community is about 34% of the population in San Diego County." Alcantar says some of the factors contributing to the high positive cases are Latinos working more frontline jobs and frequenting public transportation. They may also have underlying health conditions and a lack of access to healthcare. And many Latinos live in multi-generational households. Maldonado met all those criteria. As a roofer, he frequently interacted with many different people. He was diabetic, had no access to healthcare, and lived with his wife, children, and grandchildren. All of these elements made him more su-sceptible to catching COVID 19. And as the main breadwinner in the household, Maldonado remained at work during the restrictions as roofing jobs got busier. Alcantar says for many Latinos, working from home is a luxury that they don't have or simply can't afford. ROBERTO ALCANTAR/CHICANO FEDERATION15:28 - 15:38 "We see that everyday, we talk to folks who are these essential workers who say I'm sorry but I have no choice, If I don't work today I might not be able to pay rent tomorrow." A recent SANDAG report says rent, food, utilities, transportation, and childcare expenses are just some of the top needs of San Diego households. Needs that Latino families often struggle to meet paycheck to paycheck. In July, Maldonado, his wife and several family members were diagnosed with COVID 19. With no insurance, the family had to pay out of pocket to see a doctor and get tested. Expenses that Maldonado's wife, Maria de los Angeles, says began to add up since their COVID diagnosis. MARIA DE LOS ANGELES/WIFE 17:17:34 - 17:18:02 "Nosotros como familias Latinas vamos al dia porque el hecho de pagar renta, de pagar biles, no nos alcanza para ahorrar. Ahora para mi va ser mas dificil porque mi sosten ya se acabo" She says: ("Latino families like us live day by day just to pay rent, pay bills, we don't have enough leftover to save money. Now for me, it's going to be more difficult because my partner is gone." ) Angeles is a legal U.S. resident working on Camp Pendleton. She and her husband planned to return to Oaxaca to retire in January. Those plans have now changed, forcing Angeles to depend on her children for financial support. While Maldonado was approved for emergency Medi-Cal, the family still hasn't seen a final hospital bill. MARIA DE LOS ANGELES/WIFE 17:14:11 - 17:14:20 "Despues de tanto tiempo trabajando aqui, no se tiene nada. Nada nada." She said: "It's a shame, after all the years of working here, we have nothing built here." And that story from KPBS reporter Tania Thorne. This story was produced with support from the journalism nonprofit Economic Hardship Reporting Project. *** Coming up… The CDC confused Americans this week. Our Midday Edition team digs in and explains what recent changes on the center for disease control’s website mean. That’s after a quick break. <<> ###### order to defeat a virus, you need to understand how it spreads, but the CDC, the U S center for disease control, has changed its COVID-19 guidance several times on what is safe and what is not…. leaving Americans confused and uncertain about what to believe. The latest change came about yesterday when the CDC removed recently added language about how the virus spreads through the air and aerosol particles. One of many scientists reacting to the administration's confusing message is Kim Prater, who is distinguished chair in atmospheric chemistry at UC San Diego. KPBS Midday Edition host Allison St. John sat down with the scientist to parse things out. Speaker 1: 00:38 So now describe to us what the CDC website on COVID-19 Tina, Jean, how it changed last Friday. Speaker 2: 00:46 Yeah, so I got on Friday CDC, um, sort of quietly put up some changes, some very important changes, um, and how they believe this particular virus is being spread. So they added the fact that it is, can be, um, and is likely largely transmitted through the air in the form of aerosols and then on, um, you know, so then there was a very positive reaction to the community because that support that is supported by the science and this was, we were very excited cause this provides super helpful guidance to those opening schools and businesses. And then Monday mornings where I'm just as quietly, they took it off and went back to the old guidance, which quite frankly doesn't help as much, um, in providing guidance on how to, and this virus. Speaker 1: 01:34 Okay. Can you clarify how aerosols differ from droplets? Speaker 2: 01:39 Sure. So aerosols are really tiny, um, and they float, they're invisible. You don't see them and they tend, they're so small that they, when they're released, they're produced in your speech. And when you talk, when you breathe, they just come out and lots of aerosols come out. Um, and largely for this virus, they come from people who don't know they're sick. And so these will just get in the air and float for hours. And anyone particularly indoors can inhale and be potentially infected, um, by these aerosols. Whereas droplets are just bigger, much bigger. And when they come out and they're largely producing coughs and sneezes, which isn't as much of an issue for this virus, but nevertheless there's droplets. Those are really big. And those have like a, almost like a Cannonball trajectory, right. They come out and they fall to the ground within six feet. And so, um, you know, we don't worry as much about inhaling those as we do the aerosols. Speaker 1: 02:38 So now in view of the CDCs actions, tell us what is the scientific evidence that aerosols are a significant mode of transmission? Speaker 2: 02:48 Well, they're the, you know, the evidence that's out there, the scientific evidence, which is growing almost daily shit, all of, all of the studies have detected it only in the, um, they're really just there isn't that many droplets as I mentioned. And so it's in the air, the scientists don't question that we just had a national Academy workshop by distinguished scientists from around the world. We all agree it is in the air. We know it is in the air. And so that is what we need to be out there clearly, um, for public guidance. Speaker 1: 03:21 But do the scientists agree that aerosols are more likely to be the cause of spread than droplets? Speaker 2: 03:26 Yes. I mean, basically what comes down to what the, one of the big debates quite honestly is between different communities that Devon the defining, let's say this sort of arbitrary size of what is an aerosol, what is a droplet? So in this national Academy, a workshop that we did, we finally defined it very clearly a hundred microns. So that's, you know, anything smaller than that will float in the air. You can inhale it and get infected anything bigger than that, we'll settle within six feet. And so, you know, basically that you have to sort of touch a surface, right? You're back to contact. Um, whereas the smaller stuff floats around. So sometimes people will call aerosols droplets and some people call droplets aerosols. They're all things, you know, in the, at the end of the day, what matters is that it's in the air and you can inhale it and get sick. Speaker 1: 04:20 There does seem to be a difference in the behavior of the aerosols and the droplets. And I wondered if you could answer how the CDCs change affects the idea of, of whether it's a good idea to wear a mask. Speaker 2: 04:31 So masks work for both droplets and aerosol. So they would argue, and I just heard dr. Fowchee talk this morning. He basically said, nothing changes. You still need masks. You still need to be, you know, at least six feet apart, the further, the better you still need, good hygiene. Um, you know, sort of all the things work for droplets or aerosols ventilation actually works better for aerosols. There's a little hint that it's aerosols. You want to be in more ventilated places. Um, you know, things that have better filtration, you can filter them out. Um, so there's, you know, there's extra layers. What I see I'm helping schools reopen right now and giving them advice. And one of the biggest things that we're protecting against is exposure indoors. So we're suggesting that everybody wears masks indoors all the time. There is no safe social distance, right? Speaker 2: 05:23 So that's one big, one better ventilation, open the windows, open the doors. Those will have a tremendous effect on reducing the concentration of aerosols. They have virtually no effect on the droplets. The droplets just spew out, hit the ground within seconds. So we don't see that big of an effect, but for the aerosols, which we really believe in, it's really been shown so far. In many cases, acquire restaurants, bars, where people are talking and not wearing masks. That's where we see these big super spreader and cluster events. And those are aerosols without question. Okay. The CDC says it changed the language over the weekend because it had not been properly vetted. What's your assessment of why it changed the language. Speaker 2: 06:09 I don't know until I see how they change, how you know, what the changes are. Uh, I will tell you that in reading, it, it, it looked quite honestly a bit like a rough draft. So maybe they're just my hope, our hope as scientists is that they're just polishing it more, um, to make it a little clearer for the public, but we will see, I, you know, I won't be able to know for sure until we see the new version. Okay. Now you were quoted in the LA times as suggesting that it was dangerous to go surfing and swimming because of COVID, um, and even dangerous waiting to be at the beach. But I don't know if we've seen any data to suggest that surface are getting sick from COVID. Do you still hold that position? Uh, let's just say that I was misquoted very comment taken out of context, unfortunately, which, um, basically I'll clarify here. Speaker 2: 07:01 Um, my concern when I saw people at the beach was that people were super crowded at the beach at that time. You know, everybody was too close to each other. They were not social distancing. And that was my concern. I have a separate project in San Diego, actually in Imperial beach that looks at sewage going into the ocean, right? And so we are in the process actively looking to see which viruses and bacteria make their way into the ocean and into the air. It's a complete, like a research project, you know, still in process. Um, we are looking to see, as I say, which viruses make it their way in, but the beach closers closures have largely focused on what's in the water. And our question is which, which, you know, which if any of these viruses and bacteria could get into the air and people could inhale. Speaker 2: 07:50 So that's a totally separate issue. You know, the beach being outdoors is one of the safest places you can be. So what should the average citizen do to respond to this ever changing news? I would hope that the public will continue to trust the scientists that are not influenced by any politics masks are really, really important. You know, the guidance is being given to avoid places right now where the community spread is high indoor locations are not as safe. I can tell you that as scientists, we haven't flipped our message. And that was Kim Prater... distinguished chair of atmospheric chemistry at UCSan Diego talking with Midday Edition host Alison St. John. Hear more interviews like this one by finding and subscribing to Middy wherever you listen to podcasts. That’s it for today. Thanks so much for listening me a favor and send this podcast to a friend who you think will enjoy it. Thanks.

San Diego County will remain in the "red" tier of the state's COVID-19 reopening plan for at least one more week, state officials said Tuesday, citing data on the two metrics California uses to judge counties’ infection rates.