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

Words Of Hope And Warning

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A student looks back at his mother, as he is vaccinated at a school-based COVID-19 vaccination clinic for students 12 and older in San Pedro, Calif., Monday, May 24, 2021.

DAMIAN DOVARGANES / AP

“The Grand State Reopening” kicked off yesterday and much of San Diego rejoiced. But public health officials are warning that the pandemic still isn’t over. Meanwhile, a grassroots organization called “Let Oceanside Vote,” is collecting signatures to recall Kori Jensen, the Council member for District 1 in Oceanside. Plus, can the movie ‘In The Heights’ change Hollywood’s racial landscape?

Good Morning, I’m Annica Colbert….it’s Wednesday, June 16th

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The state’s reopened, but the pandemic isn’t over.

More on that next, but first... let’s do the headlines….

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The most recent CAL OSHA draft order regarding masking aligns state guidelines with the CDC’s and says fully vaccinated individuals do not need to wear masks at work. California Governor Gavin Newsom is now putting the whole question to rest.

“if they adopt the guidelines they published friday, the answer is no and we’ll codify that with an executive order to make that clear on the 17th.”

Without the governor’s executive order, it would be ten days before the order could take effect.

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The newly-passed San Diego city budget includes $350,000 dollars to launch the Office of Child and Youth success.

Warsan Artan is with the group Youth Will.

“for the first time in the city of san diego, we have an office where we’re like, what does a young person need? if a person is born tomorrow in the city of san diego, what would they need to be young, successful functional people.”

The office will help young people to find jobs, training, mental health resources and other focused support. Planning for the office will begin in early july.

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The Sierra Club's San Diego chapter is asking Mayor Todd Gloria Tuesday to temporarily close the sea lion rookery in La Jolla. Sea lion pupping season began this month, and the club says large crowds and irresponsible tourists contributed to the death of a sea lion pup. signs were put up around La Jolla warning visitors to keep their distance from the sea lions. But the Sierra club says they’re not enough.

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

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

Tuesday was a day of rejoicing... re-opening.. and reflection. Restrictions, once in place to save lives, are now lifted in what was celebrated as a statewide "Grand Re-Opening." Our story begins with words of hope, and of warning.

Here's KPBS health reporter Matt Hoffman:

It’s been pure hell man but we’re coming out of that, I’m just being honest
In liberty station at the public market business owners like Tony Smalls of the Cane Patch Kitchen are hopeful that California’s big reopening will have a big impact on their bottom line--
Tony Smalls, cane patch kitchen owner
Looking forward to seeing more people in here building up the crowd so all of these vendors in here we can make more money and take care of our families
Social distancing requirements are officially gone and for those fully vaccinated these masks can now come off indoors
Matt Gordon, VP operations blue bridge hospitality
It’s been kind of interesting to just see the general mood of the market most people seem to be wearing masks when they go inside
Matt Gordon with blue bridge hospitality manages the market here which will soon have some tables inside again--
Gordon
Since march of last year we’ve had no indoor consumption everything was for outdoor consumption or to go
Gordon
Lots of the time we had to limit how many people were in the market
For the first time in more than a year restaurants, bars, gyms and other businesses can operate at full capacity..
Eric Gallerstein, Rad Burger owner
Hopefully people feel more comfortable with the easing of restrictions and they come out and visit us more
Some people at liberty station were not wearing face coverings, but the vast majority still were.. State guidance says those unvaccinated still have to wear them in indoor public spaces -- and everyone vaccinated or not has to keep them on in schools, when riding public transit or at hospitals.
Wilma Wooten, San Diego County Health officer
If Businesses wanted to continue to require people to wears masks they can do that
California workers will have to keep face coverings on until Cal-Osha updates workplace rules, which could happen by the end of this month.
County Public Health officer Dr. Wilma Wooten says more 75 percent of eligible San Diegans are vaccinated with at least their first dose putting the community in a good position to reopen and start mixing again--
We are very excited about where we are today but it doesn’t mean that things are over
In the coming months the vaccination push will shift to kids under 12 years old--
We continue to urge San Diegans to get vaccinated, please do that
County Supervisor Nathan Fletcher says daily case counts remain low and today is a day to celebrate hard work and get back to pre-pandemic life--
Lifting all restrictions essentially reopening all aspects of our life
5:04 Nathan Fletcher, San Diego County Supervisor
We are now poised for a truly economic recovery
Restaurateurs have one piece of advice for those hitting the town again-
To all the guests going out to dine most people that have been working have been working hard to keep those doors open so be kind
For now there will still be some restrictions for mega indoor events, like negative testing or proof of vaccination requirements which applies to conferences and concerts. MH KPBS News.

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A funeral was held for two San Diego Police Department detectives who were killed in a wrong way crash earlier this month. KPBS’ Alexandra Rangel has more.

Chuck Price, SDPD Chaplain
“Right now there is nothing to do but grieve.”
Still numb by the horrific accident that took two of their own, the San Diego Police Department
Honored the lives of detectives Ryan Park and Jaime Huntley-Park.
Ryan and Jaime were killed in a wrong way crash June 4 on interstate 5 in San Ysidro.
The married couple were in their early thirties, both described as dedicated detectives who lovingly served their community.
They were both promoted to detective together in 2018 and on Tuesday they were laid to rest in a joint casket.
Dale Lowrimore, SDPD Chaplain
“I loved him, i loved working with him and when my phone rang Friday it crushed me, it crushed me.”
Chaplin Dale Lowrimore shared some of his favorite memories of Ryan.
Dale Lowrimore, SDPD Chaplain
“We were seven ours into a 10 hour shift and i was getting hungry, and he goes no man im good. He reaches in his back seat and pulls out a bag of skittles and i said no man thats not gonna cut it.”
Jaime wasn't just an excellent police detective, but a dedicated hockey coach.
Chaplain Chuck Price spoke to Jaimes’s Hockey team present at the memorial.
Chuck Price, SDPD Chaplain
“Go forward and make her proud, achieve what you don't think you can achieve.”
As for the family in blue they leave behind, Price shared some words of encouragement.
Chuck Price, SDPD Chaplain
“Be glad you were gifted with their friendship, be thankful that their impact on your life made you a better person.
Alexandra angel KPBS News.

And that reporting from KPBS’ Alexandra Rangel

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A grassroots organization is collecting signatures to recall an Oceanside city council member... after doubts rose over where she lives. KPBS North County reporter Tania Thorne has the story.

Kori Jensen was appointed to Oceanside’s vacant District 1 council seat back in January.
The term for this seat lasts until November 2022.
But a local grassroots organization called “Let Oceanside Vote” is collecting signatures to recall Jensen before then.
CINDY DAVENPORT/LET OCEANSIDE VOTE
“22,000 voters should have their voice instead of just 3 council members making a choice for us as to who will represent us in District 1.”
Cindy Davenport is the organization’s team leader. She and volunteers have been going into the District 1 community informing voters of the recall.
Davenport says the effort was sparked by Jensen’s vote to close the Brooks Street Pool, a city pool serving the District one community.
Our jaws dropped. That immediately told us that this person is not representing us and we need to vote”
Jensen says the Brooks Pool vote was a misunderstanding while the city was trying to find ways to pay for its pools..
“If that helped us with the shortfall regarding the pools then I thought well that's probably an option to do seasonal hours like Marshall Street Pool.”
In the end, Jensen voted to keep the pool open.
But that incident led to more scrutiny… and questions about where Jensen lives... because of tax records showing a Carlsbad address.
The District Attorney wound up investigating claims that Jensen lied about living in Oceanside… and found no criminal wrongdoing.
KORI JENSEN/OCEANSIDE DISTRICT 1 COUNCIL MEMBER
“My mother’s parents came from Mexico, in the 1940’s they came to Oceanside. My grandfather started the first linen supply business here in Oceanside to service Camp Pendleton. Oceanside is where my heart is , it's where my family is and this is where I live and have always lived. This is my home.”
Recall organizers say Jensen still hasn’t provided tangible proof that she lives in the city.
Jensen says she sees where residents are coming from and why they want an election.
“I just hope they’ll give me a chance to do some good and then we’ll go from there because we will have an election and if i do a good job and I run for election hopefully I’ll get my position back but its going to be up to the voters at that point.”
Let Oceanside Vote has until September 10th to collect just over four-thousand signatures. Then the Registrar of Voters will have 30 days to verify those signatures before the recall can proceed.
TT KPBS News.

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The heat is on and San Diego beaches are flooded -- with visitors from all over. KPBS’ Melissa Mae took a stroll along the coast and got some reactions to covid-19 restrictions being lifted.

“After 15 long months, where facial coverings, social distancing and limited capacity had become a part of our normal routine, California officially reopens to pre-covid status and what better way to celebrate than with sun, sand and the ocean.”
Charlene Grayson // San Diego Resident
“Today is the first day, YAY!”
Charlene Grayson is a San Diego native and loves being at the beach without a mask!
Kristine Grayson // San Diego Resident
“The beach means everything to me. I was born and raised in San Diego. So, I can’t surf anymore, certain things I can’t do as life goes on, but the bicycle and my dog. I grab a different dog everytime and come down and ride the boardwalk.”
Las Vegas resident Lauren King has been enjoying the beach with no restrictions.
Lauren King // Las Vegas Resident
“It’s just nice to see people’s faces again. People smiling at everybody.”
Lauren King // Las Vegas Resident
“We absolutely love it here. To be at the beach and not have to wear a mask is amazing and especially not have to worry about putting a mask on him is 10 times better.”
Even with pandemic restrictions lifted, there are still some people who prefer to wear masks.
Isabella Gonzalez // Corona Resident
“I feel more comfortable with the mask, cause I’m kind of a germaphobe, so I’m kind of a little scared to get sick, but I also want to come out and have fun.”
Isabella Gonzalez came down from Corona to enjoy the beach after a year of online learning.
Isabella Gonzalez // Corona Resident
“I totally forgot that covid was even a thing, so it was really nice.”
Even with restrictions lifted, masks are still required for San Diegans who are not vaccinated and are in an indoor public setting, on public transit, indoor schools and youth settings, health-care settings, jails and prisons and homeless shelters.
Businesses also have the option to still require patrons to wear masks. Melissa Mae KPBS News.

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Coming up.... KPBS Midday Edition heard a lot from San Diegans on how they’re feeling about the restrictions being lifted, we’ll have that story next,...plus, the movie “In the Heights” opened last week, serving up a multiracial musical feast... Could this herald a change in Hollywood? More on that from our Arts Reporter Beth Accomando, just after the break.

Yesterday , on the occasion of the county’s reopening, Midday Edition got lots of San Diegans to tell us how they feel about going out again. Will they go dancing? Will they go to concerts, plays and other arts events with live audiences?
We heard from lots of you…here’s a selection.

Those are San Diegans telling us what they think about their return to a social life and live events.

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“In the Heights” opened last week, It serves up a rare commodity: a big budget Hollywood musical created by a Puerto Rican American, directed by an Asian American and featuring a racially diverse cast. KPBS arts reporter Beth Accomando explores what the wide release of a film like this can mean.

HEIGHTSREAX (ba) 4:10
Calixto Chinchilla runs the New York Latino Film Festival and has been following the evolution of “In the Heights” since it began percolating in the mind of Lin-Manuel Miranda more than a decade ago. Chinchilla sees it as a love letter to his former neighborhood.
CLIP Let me just listen to my block…
CALIXTO CHINCHILLA The unfortunate thing is that the Heights is changing, the gentrification is real, you know a lot of us can't afford to be there anymore. It's a different neighborhood so that even that movie becomes the time capsule, if you will.
CLIP Say it so it doesn’t disappear… Washington Heights…
“In the Heights” tells a particular story about one community but Latino playwright Herbert Siguenza says that’s not how Hollywood sees it.
HERBERT SIGUENZA They put us all in this one homogeneous group and it is just very unfortunate.
Unfortunate and problematic says Ethan Van Thillo, founder of the San Diego Latino Film Festival.
ETHAN VAN THILLO We put too much pressure on these movies because it's the one film of the whole year, right? I've seen this over the years. All this pressure was put on this one film. And if it's not a success, then they say, OK, well, that's why their audiences don’t want to see their movies.
Siguenza says the scarcity of these films is the issue.
HERBERT SIGUENZA Because we want them to represent all of our feelings, all of our history, all of our nuances. And that's just impossible. It's just impossible.
Both Siguenza and Van Thillo have grown jaded about Hollywood telling their stories.
ETHAN VAN THILLO I heard a lot of people celebrating, oh, my gosh, in the Heights, it's going to be a big change. We're going to see more Latinos in front of the screen, behind the screen. But unfortunately, I've heard that before. We've seen that a few times with other films.
Films like “Zoot Suit,” which challenged stereotypes 40 years ago.
ETHAN VAN THILLO It's always important to remember those who have come before us and films like “Zoot Suit” paved the way for someone like Miranda to even make what he's currently made, and to Hollywood to even distribute what's being made.
For a young Latino filmmaker like Luis Martinez of 2AM Burrito Productions, the film was a mixed bag.
LUIS MATINEZ I would have liked to see a Latinx director have the reigns of this. But It made me feel really good to see it on the screen and made me feel really good that a studio put its money behind a project like that.
“In the Heights,” which opened in theaters and streaming on HBO Max, underperformed at the box office in Hollywood’s eyes. But Martinez says that’s an easy story to pitch an editor.
LUIS MARTINEZ “In the Heights” underperforms, what does this spell for Latin audiences moving forward? But I think the people that are going to make the next project are going to get the real streaming numbers from HBO… When you have access of dual releases online, you know every HBO Max password out there is getting used by three or four different Latino families. That's close to 80 people that could have theoretically watched the movie during the weekend.
No matter how the film performed, Van Thillo says the Latino community is excited about it.
ETHAN VAN THILLO Seeing how families are already reacting via social media in the sense of pride and seeing oneself on the big screen.
Siguenza agrees.
HERBERT SIGUENZA But I think people are just reacting emotionally because we just don't see ourselves. We just don't see ourselves on film. We have tons of stories but we are just not represented in Hollywood.
Martinez suggests celebrating the film while still taking time to criticize it where necessary as with the lack of Afro Latino representation.
LUIS MARTINEZ. But I think that as long as we have that conversation while still supporting it, so that more artists like myself and other artists that are out there creating content and telling stories and a lot of us have the chance to make more films is what I would like to see come out of this.
CLIP Little details that tell the world we are not invisible…
HERBERT SIGUENZA But that is a theme that we got to really live up to.
Again Herbert Siguenza.
HERBERT SIGUENZA Like we have to have more movies with specific details that really show us as human beings, as three dimensional characters and not just cartoonish dancers I want to see something more substantive.
“In the Heights” may be a long way from “West Side Story,” but there’s still a long way to go.
Beth Accomando, KPBS News.

That was KPBS’ Arts reporter and Cinema Junkie Beth Accomando. In the Heights is currently in cinemas and available streaming on HBO Max.

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.

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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.