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A Surge On Top Of A Surge

 December 24, 2020 at 4:00 AM PST

Good Morning, I’m Kinsee Morlan, in for Annica Colbert….it’s Thursday, Dec. 24. *** You’ve probably heard the warning by now...a “surge on top of a surge” could be coming if too many people spread COVID-19 at Christmas gatherings after thousands spread it over Thanksgiving… How local officials are preparing for the potential disaster. That story soon. But first...let’s do the headlines.. *** About that Thanksgiving surge…. San Diego County reported nearly 2600 new COVID-19 infections and 39 more deaths yesterday. That kicks our totals up to close to 135,000 cases and the death toll now stands at 1,350. Twenty five percent of deaths have happened since Thanksgiving. County public health officer Wilma Wooten says at the rate we're going, we are on track to record 600 more deaths by the end of January 2021. 44 percent of our county’s total coronavirus cases have happened since Thanksgiving. *** So...just one day after pardoning former San Diego-area Representative Duncan Hunter, who was convicted for misusing campaign funds for personal expenses, President Donald Trump then granted a full pardon to Hunter's wife yesterday. Margaret Hunter pleaded guilty to the same crime. Trump offered the same reasoning for the pardon of Margaret Hunter as he did for the former congressman, saying the case `should have been treated as a civil case' by the Federal Election Commission, not a federal Prosecution. *** San Diego assemblywoman SHIRLEY WEBER appeared yesterday in a virtual press conference with Governor Newsom, saying she wants to protect every citizen's right to vote. Weber has been nominated to take the position of California Secretary of State. The San Diego county registrar said Weber's seat in the 79th Assembly District will be filled through a special election. *** From KPBS, you’re listening to San Diego News Now. Stay with me for more of the local news you need. Just before Christmas...there are just two dozen staffed ICU beds available in our entire county. As KPBS reporter Matt Hoffman says, officials are scrambling to provide more hospital beds soon, but staffing is also a struggle amid the COVID-19 surge. Fearing for what could be coming. Officials are activating field hospitals across California, including a 200 bed facility in Escondido. The governor saying if people don't protect themselves as Christmas, we're heading for disaster, it'd be a surge on top of a surge on top of the surge. Unless we are cautious and mindful about our travel plans, this holiday season, and about our proximity to people outside of our household County officials say they know it's hard not to see extended family right now, but they're pleading with San Diego to follow health orders. This Christmas, we're asking you to not gather with them because you love them. And because you care about them, County run testing sites will be open with limited hours over the holidays, but keep in mind that is only a point in time. Test. I'm sure many of you are thinking that you've been tested recently and that you were okay, or that you had a plan for a safe gathering, but as we've seen, many of the cases from the recent surge came from people who gathered for Thanksgiving. Getting together for holidays is simply too risky. Again, the issue is not so much physical beds, but also healthcare workers to staff them. Script's health officials saying today their Encinitas hospital was at 183% surge capacity in the ICU, and they are starting to ration care having to postpone some surgeries and moving patients from South Bay hospitals up North we're using team nursing. So normally we would operate under staffing ratios. But the state of California has given us waivers because we wouldn't be able to leave an admit patients if we didn't have the waivers. And we're using a concept called team nursing to expand the use of nurses and support the nurses in their care for Christmas, there are only around 24 staff ICU beds available for our County of more than 3 million people. Well, we know people are hurting out there and we know they're tired of the pandemic, you know, W we're damn tired of it too. Um, but we're the ones that ended up getting those, those patients that are desperately trying to catch their breath. That ended up on a ventilator clear when the 200 bed federal field hospital in Escondido will be ready. We know it will be run by Palomar health and officials there have previously said once, given notice it could be set up within a week. That story from KPBS reporter Matt Hoffman. *** As the number of positive COVID-19 cases continue to rise in the county, jails have been no exception. KPBS reporter Max Rivlin-Nadler tells us that the ACLU of San Diego is now trying to get some basic answers concerning coronavirus outbreaks that appear to be overtaking local jails. As of Monday, according to the sheriff’s department, there were 396 active coronavirus cases among inmates at county jails. And 119 active cases among staff….. With just under 4,000 people currently incarcerated in San Diego’s seven jails, that 10% positivity rate… has prompted the ACLU of San Diego and Imperial Counties to file a Public Records Request…. Trying to find out what measures are being taken to stop the spread. Bardis Vakili is a senior attorney with the ACLU. We are just placing these powder-kegs throughout the county that might go off and overload those systems, that’s where we talk about it being dangerous not only for people on the inside, but dangerous for the health workers who are working, who are already overtaxed. In a statement, the sheriff’s department told KPBS that as COVID-19 spreads rapidly in San Diego County, its jails have also seen an increase in infections. *** Coming up… From two to three live..exciting..high energy performances a week to being forced to perform at home in front of zoom… Our “pandemic profile” series continues with a local drag queen who’s working hard to keep the art alive through COVID-19 lockdowns. That story after a quick break. On the long list of industries disrupted by the COVID-19 pandemic is drag… As part of our series of “pandemic profiles,” KPBS, Metro reporter, Andrew Bowen spoke with one local drag queen who also opened a costume shop this year about how the drag community is trying to survive. Speaker 2: 00:19 My name is VV incognito. I was raised in San Diego. I've been doing drag for about 10 years, And Cognito is a kind of punk rock, extra terrestrial, post binary drag performer. Prior to COVID. I was performing like two or three times a week. I was traveling every week up and down the coast, booking my own shows and, uh, building my network after COVID happened, all the drag shows got canceled. And when this is something that you do full time and you're only a form of income, it was definitely a scramble to figure out what to do. Next. A lot of drag performers went to virtual, uh, drag shows. I actually hosted a few virtual drag, shows myself something that I can say about COVID is that most drag performers have learned a new skill. Not only do we style wigs style outfits, do our makeup, but now we've, um, had to learn how to record, edit and produce our own like music videos, which is a lot Speaker 3: 01:30 Right. Speaker 2: 01:35 Part of being a drag performer is that connection that you get when you're onstage. There's nothing that can replace the energy between the audience and the drag performer. So I know that a lot of that energy and excitement does get lost. When you're just watching the show on a TV screen or on a computer screen, you don't get that dollar exchange. You know, you don't get tipped the same, some performers that energy and that exchange and that creative outlet is really what they have to look forward to week after week. And, um, for a lot of people, there is a lot of depression, a lot of sadness. There's a lot of, uh, creative blockage happening. Cause it's really hard to focus on being creative and coming up with like, uh, new ideas and ways to express yourself when you're also worrying about food and, and, and money and your job. I've had some friends that got a storage unit and had to put their stuff up for a little bit. Um, taking a little break from drag, which is healthy too. Speaker 2: 02:34 Yeah. About 10 years ago, when I first started doing drag, I came into this very store. Um, at that time it was called secrets, wigs wig designs, and it was owned by Maria and Maria is a staple in our LGBT local community here. And when COVID happened, I messaged her about, well, what's, what's the plan going to be. And she let me know that she was going to actually have to, um, go out of business. And so when I got that news, I was devastated. I had to make a quick decision what I was going to do. And I talked to the landlord and I decided to take over the store myself. Um, I changed the name to whips and furs. Um, and we expanded on the wigs. Speaker 2: 03:16 We have super deluxe Santa costumes here, full on Santa suits that come with everything. And we also have like these like morph suits here, a lot of drag Queens like to wear these while they perform, it was a tough decision to open up during the pandemic, but I've been just kind of doing whatever I can to keep a float and to keep the store interesting enough to have people coming back. And I plan for after COVID, um, that we're going to have so many programs here at the store. So we'll have makeup tutorials, we're going to have wig styling classes, we're going to be making hip pads. Um, so we're going to be having a lot of, uh, community interaction and a lot of events here that really are going to be a resource and a benefit for the community too. Speaker 3: 04:03 [inaudible] Speaker 2: 04:04 Cannot wait to hit the stage again. And as a performer during this COVID times, my drag has changed so much. Like I've really like grown through this experience. I know people are getting like super excited and eager to get back out there and stuff, but we all just kind of have to like, wait it out a little bit. Um, that way we can all survive this. And, um, uh, and we can appreciate, you know, being together when this is like And that was Vivi Incognito, a local drag queen and owner of the costume shop Whips and Furs in North park. Alright. That’s our show. Thanks so much for spending your time with us. We’ll be offline tomorrow for Christmas...back on monday. Happy holidays, y’all.

Officials are activating field hospitals across California, including a 200-bed facility in Escondido. We’re heading for disaster, the governor said on Wednesday, if people don't protect themselves this Christmas, a surge on top of a surge on top of a surge. Plus: ACLU of San Diego is working to get more data about COVID-19 cases in county jails, a drag queen fights to keep the art alive through the pandemic and more local news you need.