Slow Progress Towards Vaccination Goals
Good Morning, I’m Annica Colbert….it’s Wednesday February 24th. San Diego is getting vaccinated, bit by bit. More on that next, but first... let’s do the headlines…. The Petco Park Vaccination Super Station reopened on Tuesday, that’s after being closed for 5 days due to weather-delayed shipments of covid-19 vaccines. A new vaccination site opened in Otay Mesa yesterday, and another site is set to open on Sunday in Lemon Grove. When fully operational, the Lemon Grove site will administer about 500 doses a day. Meanwhile, San Diego county health officials reported more than 400 new cases of covid-19 on Tuesday, and 29 additional deaths. Hospitalizations from the virus continue to decline. A new law regulating Short-term rentals in San Diego passed it’s first reading at the city council on tuesday. The new ordinance caps the total number of short term rental units at 1% of the city’s total housing supply. A lottery will determine who gets to offer homes for vacation rentals, and so-called “good actors” will be prioritized in who ends up getting a license. The San Diego County announced on Tuesday that they’ve formed a new prosecutorial unit that focuses on labor law violations. It’s called The Workplace Justice Unit, and it’ll prosecute things like unfair business practices, wage theft, labor trafficking and payroll tax evasion. From KPBS, you’re listening to San Diego News Now. Stay with me for more of the local news you need. San Diego county set a goal to fully vaccinate 70%of the region's population by July. KPBS Health reporter Tarryn Mento tells us how much progress we’ve made amid the many supply delays and limitations. At least six point seven percent of the region’s population is now fully vaccinated. That’s an increase from two weeks ago when officials reported only about 2.6% were fully vaccinated. But the region has also seen multiple delayed vaccine shipments this month that temporarily closed down some vaccination sites. Dr. Jeff Goad is a former president of the California Pharmacists Association. He says reaching the 70% goal is key to achieving herd immunity. 00:16:05:18 whether that be through vaccine or through natural immunity, but primarily through vaccination, because we don't want to lose any more lives, of course. So once we get to above 70 percent, that's generally mathematically the threshold when you start to terminate an outbreak But while vaccinations slowly increase… the region’s case rate is declining. The state announced Tuesday the figure has dropped to 15 per 100,000, but it needs to reach 14 for youth sports to begin and 7 for more business operations to resume. That reporting from KPBS Health Reporter Tarryn Mento. SAN DIEGO UNIFIED SCHOOL DISTRICT HAS FINALLY SET A DATE FOR BRINGING ALL OF ITS STUDENTS BACK TO CAMPUSES. KPBS EDUCATION REPORTER JOE HONG HAS THE LATEST. San Diego Unified School District has announced plans to launch hybrid instruction for all grades beginning April 12th, which will allow students to split their time between virtual and in-person learning. In preparation, the county will start vaccinating district employees this coming Monday. School board president Richard Barrera said the timeline is contingent on both the staff being vaccinated and San Diego County being out of the purple tier for COVID-19 infection rates. San Diego County Board of Supervisors Chairman Nathan Fletcher released a statement Tuesday morning applauding the district and the teachers union for reaching an agreement on the timeline for hybrid instruction. Barrera said the district will survey parents to get a more accurate sense of how many students will be on campus, which will help district officials determine the details of hybrid instruction. Joe Hong KPBS News. That was KPBS Education Reporter Joe Hong. The city of Oceanside awaits the opening of what it calls “a world-class aquatic center.” But it could come at the cost of an older public pool in one of Oceanside’s poorer neighborhoods. KPBS North County reporter Tania Thorne has more. The new El Corazon Aquatics Center is set to open this Summer with two big pools, a splash pad, locker rooms and much more. But operating costs were a concern at a recent Oceanside city council meeting. One proposal to offset the costs… closing the Brooks Street Swimming Center, an idea Mayor Esther Sanchez was quick to criticize. “I am really surprised that this would come up and that we would be taking from the poor to give to the rich, that’s what it looks like”1:40:39 The older public pool is located near the highest density neighborhood in the city, within walking distance of Oceanside High School and the Boys and Girls Club of Oceanside. In contrast, the new center is more than four miles away. “They’re not able to walk to the El Corazon pool, it's just not realistic for the families that we serve and the demographics we serve. “ That’s Jodi Diamond, CEO of the Oceanside Boys and Girls Club. She says the pool teaches her members, 63 percent of whom are children of color, swimming and water safety skills. The city council is scheduled to vote on the closure proposal tonight. TT, KPBS News. That was KPBS North County reporter Tania Thorne. The pandemic has been difficult on many people’s mental health, especially young people stuck inside without group activities. In response, a City Heights youth group is trying to get young black men hiking —and they’ve gotten a huge response. KPBS’ Max Rivlin-Nadler reports. When the pandemic hit, almost all the activities young people do to socialize and play were put on hold….. No sports, no school, no movies, no hanging out….. That took a toll on the mental health of young men…. Especially in the African immigrant communities in City Heights…. It’s tough because you don’t really know what people are going through. Before Covid we were in tune with what the kids were feeling. All the youth, they were open and talkative about their feelings and stuff… Abdirizak Ahmed is a youth mentor at United Women of East Africa…. Which runs programming focused on the mental health of young men. Ever since Covid, we’ve kind of lost touch with a lot of the, some of them don’t have laptops to do Zoom ..it’s been tough, a lot of people going through depression, and loss in their family and stuff. It sucks to not be there for them. The community has been hard-hit by the COVID-19 pandemic. Ahmed says he can count ten deaths over the past months in their tight-knit community… and many families are facing hardship after layoffs. Ahmad Mahmuod, who’s been home from college at Berkeley during the pandemic, says this is all taking a toll on mental health. It puts a lot of pressure on young men to witness their mothers and fathers and their siblings struggle, you know face-to-face 24 hours because they’re at home. It causes a lot of anxiety, it leads to depression, not being able to be with your brothers, your friends, not able to go to school. As muslims, Mahmoud explains, the interruption of the Friday prayer and hanging out afterwards with other young men, has really hurt the community. They need places where they can ask questions, learn from each other, and just be in brotherhood and be a community. To deal with the stress and grief, some of the young men in the program had an idea — going out for hikes…. Allowing young men to socialize, get out some energy, and do it in a safe, socially distanced way. Mohamed Musse helped put together the first hikes. Instead of being at home, we’re exercising at the same time, we get to know each other, there’s newcomers, we’re building that bond, so just in case when everything finishes up, when covid ends, we can still have that friendship. /cut/ it’s a safe space for us to be with each other. Abdouli Haji is the organization’s program manager. He said once the idea of going on hikes was put out there, young men started to show up by the dozens. They’ve been looking for ways to get active. We’re very social young men, in the community, ever since we’ve been locked down in the houses, eating chilling, everyone’s been putting on weight. That upends a stigma associated with hiking and some outdoor sports — that it’s a white space, and not inclusive for the black community, explains Ahmad Mahmoud. Two weeks ago when we were doing hiking, and I invited a lot of my friends and my family, 90% of the response was, why are going to do that, that’s a white people thing. I don’t blame them, when you look at recreational activities like hiking, swimming, etc., it was activities that black people were barred from participating in. That’s why the group feels it’s important to show solidarity….. Trying something new, while being close together….and changing the perception of who hikes in America. They’re drawing the notice of other black hikers... That means a lot, just for my eyes to see this, thank you god, thank you….. The group has already taken trips to Cole’s Mountain and Mission Trails, along with shorter hikes around Chollas Lake near City Heights….. Abdouli Haji says the group looking to fundraise to be able to get further out of the city for other hikes…. With transportation being a main barrier between this community and the outdoors…. And to expand the program beyond just young men… We’re hoping to get the whole community involved, to get everybody up and active, especially when everyone’s just sitting at home. You can learn more about the group at the United Women of East Africa’s Instagram page. That story from KPBS’ Max Rivlin-Nadler. Coming up.... California has some ambitious climate goals, but to get there, it’ll have to re-think how energy is produced. We’ll have that story next, just after the break. One of California’s key climate goals is to have all of its energy come from renewable sources by 2045. But to reach that target the state is having to rethink how it creates energy. CapRadio’s environment reporter Ezra David Romero reports on one untapped resource: the state’s windy coastline. [AMBI] Sound of gravel and wheels I’m on the hunt. But not for geese or wild boar, I’m looking for wind. To find this wind I’ve driven about an hour and a half southwest of Sacramento to the edge of the Delta in Solano County. [ROMERO 1] GOOGLE: in 2.7 miles turn left onto Collinsville road. I know I’m close when the sheep and cows on the hills turn into a forest of towering white and silver objects. [EZRA 1] AMBI: car doors shut. EZRA: “I'm here on the edge of the Central Valley surrounded by windmills. They're about 20 stories high, just like a big building. And each blade is about half that length.” [AMBI] SOUND OF MILLS continues underneath this] I set off of this journey, because I wanted to imagine what a thousand windmills will look like out on the ocean. An idea is being floated to see a similar forest of turbines about 20 miles off the coast from Santa Barbara to the Oregon border. Some environmental groups say a quarter of California’s energy needs could come from wind. Democratic Assemblymember David Chiu from San Francisco is behind a bill that would set a goal of producing 10 gigawatts of power from wind energy by 2040. [CHIU] “Five years ago, you hadn't seen the scale of offshore wind development that is currently happening on the East Coast that we do that we have now. We believe the state of California needs to take a leadership role.” But how many wind turbines will it take to get 10 gigawatts of energy? [CHHABRA] “So, the bigger the turbine size, the fewer you need. “ Mohit [MOE-hit] Chhabra [Chaw-brruh] studies wind turbines for the Natural Resources Defense Council. [CHHABRA 2] “You’d need around 800 or so to get your 10 gigawatt number. And you’d need around that much area around 800 to 900 square miles.” This is how offshore wind works. Turbines sit on floating platforms, which are tethered to the ocean :floor. As wind spins the turbines, the energy flows through cables underwater to the shore. Karen Douglas is a commissioner with the California Energy Commission. [DOUGLAS 1] “We certainly need to learn a bit more to understand how this could work.” The state’s studied offshore wind since 2016. Even with models in Europe and the East Coast, Douglas says more California specific research is needed. Oceans are deep here … and there’s another issue. [DOUGLAS 2] “The real challenges for us have been we don't have scalable, buildable areas off the California coast. That's because we really needed to resolve issues with the Department of Defense.” Douglas says potential sites are often used as military training areas. But she thinks that pushback will be eased with support from the Biden Administration. There’s also the issue of how a city of wind turbines will impact wildlife. Audubon California is in favor of offshore wind because they say climate change will do more harm to birds than wind turbines. Garry George works in clean energy with the group. [GEORGE] “389 species of birds might go extinct in North America. So, yes, we need to that, but we need to do it smartly. We don't know exactly how they're going to behave around floating turbines.” But for advocates like Nancy Rader with the California Wind Energy Association investing in wind is a no brainer. [RADER] “We really should be cheering every time a wind turbine goes up because it means less fossil fuels, killing the planet.” This project would cost billions and there’s no guarantee that it will happen, but in a decade or less Rader wants Californians to flick on their lights and know their homes are powered by wind. That reporting from CapRadio’s Environment reporter Ezra David Romero. That’s it for the podcast today. Be sure to catch KPBS Midday Edition At Noon on KPBS radio, or check out the Midday podcast. You can also watch KPBS Evening Edition at 5 O’clock on KPBS Television, and as always you can find more San Diego news online at KPBS dot org. I’m Annica Colbert. Thanks for listening and have a great day.