Skip to main content

LATEST UPDATES: Tracking COVID-19 | Vaccines | Racial Justice

San Diego Covid-19 Deaths Doubled

Cover image for podcast episode

JACOB AERE

The Moderna COVID-19 vaccine sits next to a syringe in a doctor's office at the Vista Community Clinic, Jan. 8, 2021.

Between late November and now, the number of COVID-19 deaths in San Diego County doubled from 1,000 to more than 2,000. Experts expect the number to continue to rise rapidly for at least another month, if not two. Meanwhile, Covid-19 vaccines have arrived in Imperial County, but not enough -- and decisions on who to vaccinate are difficult. Plus, local workforce experts are hoping for a rebounding economy in 2021.

Good Morning, I’m Annica Colbert….it’s Friday, January 15th.

Covid-19 Deaths in San Diego have Nearly doubled since the start of the holidays.

We’ll have that story next, but first... let’s do the headlines….

San Diego county public health officials reported more than 2500 new coronavirus infections on thursday and 53 additional deaths. In a grim milestone, San Diego county has now seen more than 2000 deaths from the virus. A 19-year-old male is among the latest covid-19 deaths, the youngest life lost in San Diego county. Eight more community outbreaks were reported on Thursday.

UC San Diego health is now offering covid-19 vaccinations to patients 65 and over...Officials there estimate they can offer as many as 500 vaccines per day...Other hospital systems like Scripps Health are still finalizing vaccines for frontline staff but might have some leftover and ready for seniors as early as next week.

California Gov. Gavin Newsom is calling in 1,000 members of the National Guard. It’s in response to an FBI warning about armed protests being planned by extremists at state capitols nationwide on inauguration day. State officials also put up a temporary chain link around the state capitol and bolstered other barriers. The California Highway Patrol is refusing to issue permits for rallies at the Capitol.

From KPBS, you’re listening to San Diego News Now.

Stay with me for more of the local news you need.

Between just before Thanksgiving and now, COVID-19 deaths in San Diego County have doubled. And low-income people of color are still bearing the brunt of the pandemic. KPBS reporter Claire Trageser has more.

It took almost nine months for the COVID-19 death toll to reach 1,000 in San Diego County. But since then—a period of less than two months it's doubled to 2,000. And experts expect the number to continue rising rapidly for at least another month, if not two.
"We're probably six to eight weeks out."
Dr. Tom Lawrie is the chief medical officer at Sharp Memorial Hospital. He says a spike in infections leads to a surge in hospitalizations two weeks later, which leads to another surge in deaths two weeks after that. So even if infections plateau in the region—which so far they have not—deaths will continue to rise rapidly for weeks to come.
But he does not think the rising death numbers can be attributed in any way to a lack of medical resources in the county.
"Throughout the pandemic, we've been able to move resources to absorb any influxes. We're so good at doing these things, being able to absorb, that people may not even realize what's going on inside the hospital, so even as we get more patients, we're able to maximize resources so people haven't suffered."
But the pandemic continues to impact people disproportionately, depending on their race and ethnicity and where they live in the county. Almost half of the people who died lived in East and South County, while just 11% lived in the north coastal areas.
The county’s Latino community is still being hit the hardest, accounting for 44% of deaths even though Latinos make up 34% of county residents.
"The fact that things haven't changed hasn't surprised us."
Nancy Maldonado is the CEO of the Chicano Federation of San Diego County.
"When you look at the numbers of infections among grocery store workers, people who work in pharmacies, those are going up, and of course they are. Those are the people at risk of exposure."
Maldonado says people in these jobs are less likely to feel confident demanding protections from their employers. And people of color are often treated differently by doctors.
"In how their symptoms are being interpreted, people are sent home even though their symptoms indicate they should not be sent home."
All of these inequities contribute to a tragedy that people are still not fully grasping.
"Every single one of those numbers is a mother, son, daughter, father. Unfortunately it doesn't hit people until it impacts them directly."
Low-income, frontline workers are most at risk because of both their living and working conditions, says Rebecca Fielding-Miller, an epidemiologist at UC San Diego.
"Grocery workers, pharmacy staff, they might have also gathered themselves over the holidays, and then they're interacting with people coming into public spaces who are at higher risk of being infected, and so you have two different waves crashing into each other."
For doctors and nurses working in hospitals, the daily death toll of the virus is inescapable, says Lawrie with Sharp Memorial Hospital.
"I work in the ICU Saturdays and Sundays, and I'm always impressed with how calm, cool, and collected they are, confident they are able to provide care to patients. These last three to four weeks, they're still calm, but the morale is wearing thin. We've been subjected to a continual onslaught of patient care that we have never had to do in our careers."
While most doctors and nurses are now vaccinated, and there is hope that numbers will begin to slowly go down, Lowrie said there is still a long race that needs to be run. Claire Trageser , KPBS News

That story from KPBS Investigative Reporter Claire Traegeser.

COUNTY HEALTH AUTHORITIES ARE TRYING TO FIGURE OUT WHY SIX HEALTH CARE WORKERS WHO RECEIVED THE COVID-19 VACCINE WEDNESDAY HAD ALLERGIC REACTIONS. KPBS REPORTER JOHN CARROLL HAS MORE.

Things were back to normal at the Petco Park vaccine super station Thursday… On Wednesday morning, the operation slowed to a crawl after six people experienced allergic reactions. We checked with the County to see if they’ve been able to determine what was behind those reactions. They responded with a brief email saying:
We have not seen a report with specifics on what occurred so are unable to comment further… and they pointed out the FDA and CDC are the primary investigating authorities. San Diego health care worker Deborah Walsh got COVID last summer… she got over it and then got the Moderna vaccine on December 30th. She knows all about allergic reactions.
“The next day though I woke up and I had chills and body aches, pretty much most of that day.”
Even after that, Walsh says she will get her second dose next week.

The COVID-19 vaccine has arrived in Imperial County where the pandemic has hit hard. But the limited supply is forcing tough decisions. inewsource investigative reporter Jennifer Bowman has more.

Imperial County officials say they’re doing everything possible to get more vaccines but acknowledge the roughly six-thousand vaccine doses on hand won’t cover all those eligible for the shots.So far, only the highest risk workers in health care have received a COVID-19 vaccination. Here’s Janette Angulo, the county’s public health director.ANGULO: “We have to distribute it in an equitable way so that everybody who's doing that frontline work can get at least their highest, highest risk vaccinated.” (00:09)The county expects more vaccine doses this week but also expects the limited availability to continue as the vaccination program progresses. For KPBS, I’m inewsource investigative reporter Jennifer Bowman.

That was inewsource investigative reporter Jennifer Bowman. inewsource is an independently funded, nonprofit partner of KPBS.

Local workforce experts from San Diego's top industries say they are looking forward to some economic rebound in 20-21. KPBS’ Jacob Aere reports.

The effects from the COVID-19 pandemic have impacted San Diegans in different ways. Black and hispanic communities have faced the greatest financial setbacks among racial groups in the county and people in lower income brackets have been most likely to have lost employment income.
San Diego Tourism Authority COO Kerri Kapich says those who work in the tourism and travel sector have been particularly hard hit.
“We lost about 50% of our revenue as a tourism community and we’ve lost 37% of our jobs in our sector, which here in San Diego is about 77 thousand jobs.”
Kapich says that San Diego’s travel and tourism sector is likely on a five year recovery journey due to economic impacts from COVID-19 related restrictions.

Coming up.... In a bit of a controversy this week, the head of the California Democratic party called the recall efforts against Governor Gavin Newsom “The California coup.” We’ll have a fact check on that from our partners at Cap Radio next, just after this break.

California Democratic Party Chairman Rusty Hicks claimed this week that the growing efforts to recall Governor Gavin Newsom should be called “the California coup.”

CapRadio anchor Mike Hagerty spoke with PolitiFact California reporter Chris Nichols about that claim in this week’s Can You Handle The Truth segment.

Chris, set the scene for us, where was Hicks speaking and what was the context of his statement?
CHRIS: He was speaking at a press conference held by the Democratic Party. It was meant to condemn the recall effort, which has been gaining momentum … Supporters have gathered about one million signatures to qualify the recall for a future ballot. They would need about one and a half million verified signatures by mid-March. If it does qualify, voters would decide at the ballot box whether to remove Newsom from office. The recall is a legal process, it’s part of the state Constitution -- it was approved more than a century ago by California voters.
During the press conference, Hicks tries to connect this recall campaign to white supremacists and others involved in last week’s attack on the U.S. Capitol. But he provided no evidence for that.
Here are the comments we fact checked:
01Hicks: “This recall effort, which really ought to be called ‘the California coup,’ is being led by right-wing conspiracy theorists, white nationalists, anti-vaxxers and groups who encourage violence on our democratic institutions.”
ANCHOR: So Hicks offered no specifics on those alleged ties. What about this description he made, calling the recall “the California coup” ?
CHRIS Well, that part is really wildly off base and inaccurate. I spoke with University of the Pacific political science professor Keith Smith -- He outlined the really monumental differences between a coup and a recall.
He starts by defining a coup as …
01Keith“ a violent effort to overthrow a legitimately- elected and legitimately-installed government, to somehow by the use of force take power in a government."
“But the recall effort is not that at all,"It’s people signing petitions that are being circulated around the state to put something on the ballot, which is a perfectly legitimate and prescribed process in democratic government.” (:30)
ANCHOR: Chris, you also spoke with Sacramento State political science professor Wesley Hussey. What did he have to say.
CHRIS: Hussey has about the most notable California recall, the 2003 effort that removed Governor Gray Davis from office. He was replaced by Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger.
Hussey says the claim about this being a coup is not only factually wrong but could also backfire on the Democratic party.
01Hussey: "I don’t think that it’s politically smart. I don’t think it’s civically appropriate."
ANCHOR: Finally, Chris, how did PolitiFact California rate this claim.
CHRIS: We rated this Pants On Fire, which is our most severe rating and used only for the most extreme falsehoods.

That was CapRadio’s PolitiFact California reporter Chris Nichols speaking with anchor Mike Hagerty. Read full versions of all fact checks at PolitiFact-dot-com-slash-California.

And for our arts segment….

Promising Young Woman is the feature directing debut of Emerald Fennell (pronounced feh·nuhl) that’s already getting a lot of praise and awards. The film is playing at the South Bay Drive-In and starts streaming TODAY on platforms like Amazon.

KPBS film critic Beth Accomando has this review….

Promising Young Woman has brilliant moments but that brilliance makes the flaws harder to ignore. Carey Mulligan plays Cassie, a young woman who’s not easy to decipher. She’s smart, sarcastic, lives with her parents, and leads a double life. Each week she seeks to expose men who prey on vulnerable women at bars. Here she confronts a man who was about to take advantage of her because he thought she was blackout drunk.
CLIP I’m a nice guy… Are you?... I thought we had a connection… What do I do for a living? Oh that’s too hard. What’s my name?...
That scene is one of the brilliant, savagely funny moments. It captures the way certain men think and then points out the problem in their reasoning. Promising Young Woman serves up female revenge but in a manner that may titillate male audiences, perhaps because that’s the only way to get their attention and teach them a lesson.
But to do this, filmmaker Emerald Fennell hypersexualizes Cassie on her nocturnal missions and that makes the film feel like it’s falling victim to stereotypes rather than challenging them. It also feels like a revenge story that doesn’t want to go full revenge.
Promising Young Woman has some frustrating inconsistencies but it presents a fresh female perspective and marks a very promising debut for Fennell.
Beth Accomando, KPBS News.

That was KPBS FIlm Critic Beth Accomando. Be sure to check out her Cinema Junkie podcast for more of that good film nerdy stuffs. You can find Cinema Junkie online at KPBS dot org, or wherever it is you get your podcasts.

That’s it for the podcast today. Be sure to catch KPBS Midday Edition At Noon on KPBS radio, or watch KPBS Evening Edition at 5 O’clock on KPBS Television. 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 News Now podcast branding

San Diego News Now

San Diego news; when you want it, where you want it. Get local stories on politics, education, health, environment, the border and more. New episodes are ready weekday mornings. Hosted by Anica Colbert and produced by KPBS, San Diego and the Imperial County's NPR and PBS station.