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Requiring Proof Of Vaccination For All Employees

 August 17, 2021 at 6:02 AM PDT

Good Morning, I’m Annica Colbert….it’s Tuesday August 17th. >>>> Urging businesses to require employee vaccinations More on that next, But first... let’s do the headlines…. ###### San Diego county public health officials reported more than 1,000 new covid-19 cases and one additional hospitalization on monday. Public Health officer Dr. Wilma Wooten says the delta variant is considerably more contagious than previous strains, and that we are in the middle of the surge. Wooten predicts it will get worse before it gets better. In the last 30 days, 92% of all covid-19 cases have occurred in those not vaccinated or not fully vaccinated. Of the remaining 8%, San Diego County Chief Medical Officer Eric McDonald says, few are showing symptoms and those who are, are relatively mild. ######## Elizabeth Kimmel, a former owner of KFMB in San Diego, pleaded guilty on Monday to paying more than half a million dollars to get her children into prestigious universities. She’s the 32nd parent to plead guilty in the nation-wide admission bribery scandal. Prosecutors say Kimmel paid to get her daughter into Georgetown University and her son into the University of Southern California. The conspiracy charges carry a max sentence of 20 years….but Kimmel is expected to receive six weeks in prison, with two years of supervised release. She’s also expected to pay a quarter of a million dollar fine, and do 500 hours of community service. The sentencing will be in December. ######## Mail-in ballots for the special gubernatorial recall election went out to California voters on Monday. The San Diego County registrar's office is also now open for those who wanted to vote in person. The actual election day is September 14th. ######### From KPBS, you’re listening to San Diego News Now. Stay with me for more of the local news you need. With coronavirus cases steadily rising, county officials are recommending businesses require vaccinations for their employees. KPBS Health reporter Matt Hoffman says they are also asking those unvaccinated be tested on a regular basis. Nathan Fletcher, San Diego County Supervisor What we know right now is that this is a pandemic of the unvaccinated San Diego County officials are encouraging all employers to require proof of vaccination from workers and have unvaccinated employees get regularly tested-- Fletcher We think these are all things we can do to slow the spread that wont in anyway impede our ability to have our economy recover The county is enacting the policy themselves -- Supervisor Nathan Fletcher says starting this week 18-thousand plus county employees will be asked to disclose their vaccination status and soon after those unvaccinated will have to be tested and wear masks indoors. I asked Fletcher if that meant those who don’t comply will lose their jobs -- Fletcher We’re working out the disciplinary actions right now through the meet and confer process with our collective bargaining units but there will be some penalty associated with that Supervisor Nora Vargas hopes those in the private and nonprofit sector will follow the lead of local government-- Nora Vargas, San Diego County Supervisor We want our business to stay open and our economy to continue to recover requiring all employees to get the vaccine or to get tested is the right thing to do. It will protect your consumers, customers and businesses We are in the middle of an increase in COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations -- more than 90 percent of which are among those unvaccinated.. County public health officer Dr. Wilma Wooten says the more contagious delta variant is driving cases. Dr. Wilma Wooten, San Diego County Health Officer We’re in the middle of the surge the question is will it get worse and it will get worse before it gets better but the way to get out of that is for people to get vaccinated Following federal approval, starting today (Monday) those who are immunocompromised and vaccinated with moderna or pfizer doses can officially request a third booster shot. Health officials say for now all you need to do is go to a site and self attest that you need it, more details are set to be released about the boosters in the coming days. MH KPBS News. ########## With the Taliban’s rapid takeover of Afghanistan in the last few days, the U.S. is focusing efforts on bringing U.S. citizens and allies back home. Still, many Afghans already in this country fear for the fate of their loved ones. KPBS reporter Alexandra Rangel has more from an Afghan native here in San Diego who is trying to get his father to the U.S. as soon as possible. He referenced news reports of desperate afghan citizens hanging on to the sides of US aircraft as they took off from the capital city of Kabul. Ahmed Naeel, “How desperate, how desperate and how sad one's life must be to be able to cling to the wing of an aircraft carrier.” Ahmed Naeel and his family fled Afghanistan 20 years ago where they eventually settled in San Diego. They’ve seen the tragedies of war with the Taliban first hand. Now they are grappling with the aftermath of the withdrawal of U.S. troops from their home country. Ahmed Naeel, “There’s no security at the airport, there is no airline staff. The whole airport has been ambushed by us citizens, civilians whoever, just thinking they can hop on an airplane and get out. Some of Naeel’s family still lives in Kabul. His Dad has been trying to escape from the capital. Ahmed Naeel, “My dad is still in Afghanistan so I am extremely concerned about. He of course missed all of his flights.” His biggest concern is getting his dad to the nearest and safest country, but as we’ve seen the images play out. The airport in Kabul is in complete shambles. Naeel was in favor of U.S. troops leaving Afghanistan, but he says the speediness of how it was done, caught everyone by surprise including the ease at which the Taliban was able to move in and take control. Ahmed Naeel , “If they would have withdrawn from Afghanistan in 2022 in 2023 what’s to say the results wouldn't have been the same. It is poor planning and poor execution of that planning.” Ahmed Naeel , “One thing i praise the u.s is they have helped 2-thousand families in their war efforts.” Naeel was once one of those families. He says Afghanistan has seen worse and believes they will get through this. Ahmed Naeel , “I am so proud of the men women and children who are still to this day fight for our country. Right now just living in Afghanistan is fighting, it’s surviving.” With no flights booked or clear date in sight, Naeel hopes his dad will be back with him soon. Alexandra Rangel KPBS News. …….. And that was KPBS’ Alexandra Rangel. In addition to speaking with the local community, KPBS’ Steve Walsh reached out to veterans in San Diego, and he brings us this report. Veterans are watching on TV as the war where they fought receives more attention from the American people in its final days than the conflict for most of the last two decades of war. “A few times I felt physically dizzy.” James Seddon is a former Naval officer from San Diego who was a liaison officer in Afghanistan in 2009. James Seddon | former Naval officer “The chaotic scenes at the airport. An airport I’ve been to many times. And seeing the Taliban in the presidential palace. A place I’ve been to many times. And I need to prep myself for more scenes like that, because more are coming.” He says the lack of terrorist attacks by Al Qaeda over the last 20 years is proof that the war wasn’t fought in vain. Zalima Shaver is an Army staff sergeant stationed at Wright Patterson in Dayton Ohio. She believes it was time for the US to leave Afghanistan. Zalima Shaver | US Army “That is their country. They are never going to change. Never, ever, ever, going to change. We are not going to change them. As you can see right now. 20 years and see how quickly the Taliban jumped right back in there.” She was a civil affairs officer in 2008 and 2009, overseeing reconstruction projects. As painful as it is to watch the collapse, she says we she did as much good as we could, while we were there. “I personally believe this was a complete waste of time.” Jason Lilley is a former Marine Raiders based at Camp Pendleton, who still lives in Orange County.. He was in Afghanistan in 2009 and again in 2012 and 2013. “It could have been much different, if we went in hard. Hit it as hard as we could for a few years. Did exactly what we were supposed to do and that is get rid of the Taliban, get rid of Al Qaeda. Get rid of Osama and got out. Why 20 years?” Tom Porter is a Navy Reservist who spent a year in Afghanistan starting in 2010. He’s now with the Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America - service organization for post-9/11 vets. “To see it all melt away in a matter of hours. It’s shocking and it’s angering. And you are going to have a lot of veterans, service members, their families wondering if it was all worth it.” His suggestion is to ask veterans about their service. But keep it judgement-free. As America’s longest war ends, there will be plenty of time to talk politics. Steve Walsh KPBS News. ######### On Saturday morning A 7.2 magnitude earthquake struck off the coast of Haiti and - in the aftermath - the death toll in the country is rising. KPBS’ Melissa Mae spoke to a local church leader with strong ties to the country. The earthquake has killed almost 13 hundred people and destroyed thousands of homes and buildings. Hospitals are overwhelmed... roads and waterways are blocked. From here in San Diego, a local church feels the loss especially hard. Jean Elise Durandisse // Haitian Methodist Ministry of San Diego “Really sad moment for Haiti right now, all of the Haitians and maybe friends all over the world.” Jean Elise (ILL-e-zay) Durandisse is the pastor at the Haitian Methodist Ministry of San Diego. Jean Elise Durandisse // Haitian Methodist Ministry of San Diego “We are not hopeless. We still have hope. We can go through this together.” Durandisse and many of his parishioners woke up Saturday to the horrible news. Jean Elise Durandisse // Haitian Methodist Ministry of San Diego “When you get up in the morning and you saw on Facebook and TV on what’s going on, the news what’s going on. One after another, again, we have something again!” He says it’s like re-living the devastating 2010 Haiti earthquake that took the lives of over 500 thousand people. Jean Elise Durandisse // Haitian Methodist Ministry of San Diego “People who try their best after 2010 to get on their feet while now they have to start over again and yeah, it’s really sad.” This past weekend, Durandisse had a chance to speak with one of his cousins in Haiti. Jean Elise Durandisse // Haitian Methodist Ministry of San Diego “He was really affected by this because he lose his house. His house was collapsed.” While on the phone, he could hear children screaming. The Pastor has started a Go-Fund-Me page to raise money to go to Haiti and hopes to visit and bring supplies with him. Jean Elise Durandisse // Haitian Methodist Ministry of San Diego “We want to be on the ground to see what’s going on and to touch the people. To pray for them and also to serve them.” The Haitian government has asked for donations to go through them. The Red Cross says it isn’t collecting donations specifically for Haiti right now, but says in a statement they are watching the situation, including “multiple aftershocks having struck the area with at least four being a magnitude of 5.0 or higher. The Red Cross is also closely monitoring Tropical Storm Grace, which threatens the island with heavy rainfall and wind in the coming days.” Melissa Mae KPBS News. And that reporting from KPBS’ Melissa Mae. ########## Coming up.... A robot that can track covid-19 outbreaks in sewage. “We can see if it was one infected individual in the building infecting the other people. Or they all picked up their infection somewhere else and brought it back to campus.” More on that next, just after the break. The UCSD campus will be full of students for the first time in more than a year this fall. KPBS Environment Reporter Erik Anderson says school officials hope a unique robotic tool, that taps into the school’s sewage system, will help contain COVID-19 outbreaks. The robots are about the size of an upside down ten gallon bucket. Think of a small R-2-D-2 unit without wheels. Take off the first lid, and there’s a simple computer that can schedule samples throughout the day. The half inch rubber tube on the side of the device runs into the manhole cover then directly into a sewer line. Take off the second lid and you see the plastic water bottle where the samples are collected. Post Doctoral researcher Smruthi Karthikeyan says there are more than 120 of these robots quietly doing the dirty work in the battle against the pandemic on the UCSD campus. “It keeps taking these samples over a 24-hour period so when we pick up the sample the next day. Its representative of the entire day and not just the moment we’re grabbing samples.” Samples are brought to the Biological Sciences building every day. “I am scanning in the bottles after they’ve been collected, but their QR code. And those automatically come up on our google docs Lab technician Kaitlyn Tribblehorn identifies where the samples come from and then prepares the contents for processing. The sewage water in the bottle is concentrated and prepared for analysis. The system has evolved since it was first deployed last summer. And that’s important because pretty soon the campus will be crowded. This testing system is expected to be an important tool in the battle against COVID. “it will be because, every day we’re making developments on increasing the number of samples. And we are focusing on that everytime. We discuss ways to make it better.” Sample collection and testing is only the beginning. Results are put into UC San Diego’s COVID 19 Daily Dashboard. The pandemic’s impact is tracked there including how many people on campus had the infection in the past week. The sewage testing data is shared there. “We have an interactive map with all these buildings which get updated every day. So if you see a blue that means that building did not have a base water positive. If it was red is means we did see a positive signal from wastewater that day.” The building occupants are typically notified and encouraged to get tested if a sample tests positive for the virus. And because the data is updated once a day, the history for more than 350 buildings can be tracked. “We can see if it was one infected individual in the building infecting the other people. Or they all picked up their infection somewhere else and brought it back to campus.” Rob Knight is the director of the center for Microbiome Innovation at UCSD. He helped set up the system because he and other researchers realized early on that COVID 19 was being transmitted before people showed outward symptoms. “We think of covid as infecting our lungs and our airways but it also infects our gut. And for many people it infects the gut before it infects the respiratory system. So you can be pooping covid into the sewage long before you show up at a hospital with respiratory symptoms.” Early testing last summer led to the discovery of infections on campus in people that didn’t realize they had the disease. Because of the way the UCSD sewer system works, positive samples can be linked to specific buildings. An early warning provided by the sewage test can be invaluable when the full campus population returns for the first time in more than a year. “Even if you’re vaccinated you can still get infected. And you can still infect other people. And so keeping our astonishing success rate going on campus is going to require people being extremely vigilant.” A recent study by Karthikeyan and Knight found 85 percent of COVID 19 cases on campus were detected early by the sewage testing system. That makes it a crucial tool to control outbreaks once students return to campus next month. Erik Anderson KPBS News 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.

San Diego County leaders and public health officials now recommend that all employers in the county begin requiring COVID-19 vaccines for their employees or require weekly testing. Also, the disastrous American evacuation from Afghanistan after two decades - we have local reaction. Plus, a robot tracking sewage for COVID-19 outbreaks at UCSD.