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Stimulus Money From The State

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In this April 23, 2021, file photo, California Gov. Gavin Newsom speaks during a press conference in Big Sur, Calif.

Low-income and middle-class Californians would get tax rebates of up to $1,100 under a proposal unveiled Monday by Democratic Gov. Gavin Newsom. It is part of a broader pandemic recovery plan made possible by an eye-popping $75 billion dollar state budget surplus. Meanwhile, some schools are offering covid-19 vaccines at their clinics on campus. Plus, the Port of San Diego is attempting to improve air quality in nearby neighborhoods.

Good Morning, I’m Annica Colbert….it’s Tuesday, May 11th.

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Stimulus Checks just keep coming -- this time from the state.

More on that next, just after the headlines

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California Gov. Gavin Newsom has expanded a drought emergency declaration to most of the state in reaction to “acute water supply shortages” in northern and central areas. This spring has been among the warmest and driest springs on record, and it threatens another severe wildfire season. The U.S. Drought Monitor shows most of the state and the American West are in extensive drought.

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State health officials are now saying the cyber attack at Scripps health was a ransomware attack.. Meaning hackers could be holding information in exchange for a payment.. Scripps hospitals are still open and delivering care, but some treatment is still being delayed. Scripps officials say they won't provide details about the attack as that could compromise their investigation.

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San Diego tourism officials predict that tourism won’t fully return to pre-pandemic levels until about 2024. Jobs in that industry accounted for more than a third of all local job losses during the pandemic, according to a SANDAG report. And there’s more bad news:

“Even if business comes back to 2019 levels I don't believe employment will come back to 2019 levels ever...

Brigette Browning is the President of UNITE HERE Local 30, a labor union for hotel and hospitality workers in the region.

"They’re going to cut back on amenities that they feel the guests don't care very much about, which means there will be significantly less jobs.”

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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.

Millions of Californians may be getting another round of stimulus checks -- this time from overflowing state coffers.. KPBS reporter Melissa Mae has more.

Governor Newsom says the state has a nearly 76-billion-dollar surplus in its operating budget…. Thanks to taxes paid by wealthy Californians who did well during the pandemic.
So... he wants to send billions back to taxpayers… starting with a proposed 600-dollar payment to those earning up to 75-thousand dollars.
He calls it the California Comeback Plan… 100-billion dollars to boost thee state’s economy.
Gavin Newsom
(Newsom Recovery.mp4 00:02:36:28 - 00:02:54:03)(:16)
“12 billion tax rebate to the people of the state of California earning up to 75 thousand dollars. Let me put that in perspective, that tax rebate will impact just shy of 80% of all tax filers will get a direct stimulus check.”
The governor’s office says that $600 is for those who did not receive a first payment.
His plan also calls for an additional $500 dollars to qualified families with dependents… and undocumented families.
Gavin Newsom
(Newsom Recovery.mp4 00:11:59:14 - 00:12:11:00)(:12) “We believe people are better suited than we are to make determinations for themselves on how best to use these dollars. That’s why we want to get money in people’s pockets as quickly as possible.”
Along with the stimulus, Newsom is proposing a $5.2 billion dollar plan to help with rent relief.
Gavin Newsom
(Newsom Recovery.mp4 00:04:30:04 - 00:04:44:18)(:14)
“To double the rental assistance in the state of California with the goal of getting 100% percent of all the back rent paid and provide 100% support over the next few months to renters.”
And he is calling for 2 billion dollars of direct relief to pay down water, gas and electric bills.
Newsom plans to roll out more details of his plan throughout the week... ahead of releasing his revised state budget on Friday.
All of these proposals will have to be approved by the state legislature. Melissa Mae KPBS News.

And that was KPBS’ Melissa Mae.

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The San Diego Unified School District is making efforts to vaccinate students and families in underserved communities by offering easy access clinics on campus.
KPBS reporter Alexandra Rangel has more from one of the clinics held at Herbert Hoover High School.

11;59;21;08 Rolando Verduzco, Hoover High School Junior
“Yea it was to not have worries, if I ever go out to not bring it to the household.”
Grateful to receive his first dose of the Pfizer vaccine, Rolando Verduzco, a junior at Hoover High, says the pandemic has been a stressful time for his family.
11;59;00;18 Rolando Verduzco, Hoover High School Junior
“It’s very scary for my family since one has health issues.”
He was one of dozens of Hoover High students who lined up after class to receive the coronavirus vaccine at the school’s auditorium.
The School District partnered with UC San Diego Health and Sharp HealthCare to host the clinic.
It’s part of the district's efforts with the county, to bring the vaccine to underserved neighborhoods with low vaccine rates.
11;49;48;26 Jason Babineau, Hoover High school Principal
“A lot of people can say, oh it’ been very easy to get a vaccine, just go to this or that clinic, but unfortunately it’s not that easy for everybody.”
Lack of transportation, money and mistrust are just some of the barriers, Hoover High principal, Jason Babineau (ba-bin-OH), says his students are facing.
11;50;06;27 Jason Babineau, Hoover High school Principal
“To be able to tear those barriers down was necessary, especially in City Heights in particular. To make sure that everyone who needs it is able to get it.”
Students at Monday’s clinic received the Pfizer vaccine. Nurse Candace Gyure (GUY-er) at Hoover HIgh says vaccine supply is not an issue at the moment.
11;43;49;12 Candace Gyure, Hoover High School Nurse
“The pfizer vaccine will be given in two doses, 21 days apart. The site will be here Monday and Tuesday from 8:30 to four, and your second appointment will be made.”
The vaccine clinics are also being held at other high schools this week...like Lincoln...Crawford..and Morse…. The vaccine is free and walk-ins are welcomed for anyone in the community ages 16 and over.
Babineau says the school has been working to educate students and their families about the safety of the vaccine, they’re hoping kids will be encouraged to get the vaccine in an environment they feel safe in.
Alexandra Rangel, KPBS News.

And that was KPBS” Alexandra Rangel

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Public health experts say free COVID-19 testing is key to monitoring the pandemic going forward. So why are some people still paying hundreds of dollars for tests?
inewsource investigative reporter Jill Castellano has the story.

CASTELLANO: When Carmen Lucci was exposed to COVID-19 in October, his employer told him he needed a negative test or a two-week quarantine.
CASTELLANO: Lucci is a waiter who has been laid off four times during the pandemic. He couldn’t afford another pay cut, so he spent almost two hundred dollars on a rapid test at a place called Covid Clinic.
LUCCI: “They’re definitely taking advantage of people over medical necessity which is definitely something that I don’t think is right.” (6 seconds)
CASTELLANO: A survey commissioned by inewsource found more than 20 testing providers in the county, including Covid Clinic, did not bill insurance in some or all cases. That means customers have to pay upfront and try to get reimbursed by insurance later.
CASTELLANO: Erin Fuse Brown (foo-SAY BROWN), a healthcare expert at Georgia State University, says those upfront costs could discourage people from seeking testing.
FUSE BROWN: “They may think twice about getting the COVID test and they also may just put it off and never get one.” (7 seconds)
CASTELLANO: The county runs many free testing sites, but the results could take days, and some residents turn to these expensive providers for faster results.
CASTELLANO: For KPBS, I’m inewsource investigative reporter Jill Castellano.

That was Inewsource investigative reporter Jill Castellano. You can read more about COVID test prices at inewsource-dot-org. inewsource is an independently funded nonprofit partner of KPBS.

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Coming up....Cleaning up the air around The Port of San Diego, and yet the efforts are falling short of community expectations. We have more on that, and a behind the scenes look at season two of Mythic Quest...that’s next, just after the break.

The Port of San Diego considers a plan today, that aims to reduce the amount of pollution portside businesses put in the air. The draft policy, however, isn’t getting a warm reception from community advocates. KPBS Environment Reporter Erik Anderson has details.

Silvia Calzada says it was scary when her doctor first diagnosed her asthma seven years ago.

Silvia Calzada, National City Resident
10:47:39 – 10:47:31 “When your airways shut down and then you can’t breathe so that’s very difficult and you get a lot of anxiety.”

Calzada has lived in National City for more than two decades and her family roots run deep.

10:46:31 – 10:46:36 “My great grandmother lived here. My grandmother currently lives here”

Calzada remembers living by paint shops and seeing trucks rumbling through her neighborhood.

10:48:35 – 10:48:57 “In area where we lived at there was a lot of trucks passing by and you could smell that diesel popping out and that affects our bodies. And just here in paradise creek there were other trucks passing by and that smoke is out there.”

And the trucks are easy to find, even today. They roll in and out of the port’s marine facility just a half mile or so from Calzada’s Paradise Creek home.

Calzada works with other community members to push the port to consider impacts on their neighbors. And back in February the Port ordered staff to develop something called Maritime Clean Air Strategy. Port Commission chair Michael Zuchett says he wanted more than just a spirited discussion in a boardroom.

00:04:41 -- 00:05:01 “What’s the plan? How are we going to do this? How are we going to transition in a way that maintains the economic activity? Maintains the good, but limits or in some cases eliminates the negative impacts on the surrounding communities with respect to clean air.”

Commissioners directed staff to put those ideas in writing. They asked for a policy that had specific, measurable, goals with clean air targets and the mechanisms to enforce compliance. Port Vice president Jason Giffen says the challenge lies in balancing two objectives.

Jason Giffen, Port of San Diego 00:01:26 – 00:01:51 “A focused effort which is primarily the next generation of how we are going to address clean air and be a good neighbor while at the same driving forward the economy of the port business at the port of San Diego. It is essentially going to be a policy document that will settle foundation in writing what will be the Port’s initiatives and strategies moving forward.”

But the resulting draft document got a cool reception from community advocates. The Environmental Health Coalition’s Danny Serrano says the staff recommendation falls short of what the port commissioners asked for publically in March. He says there’s a lot of good language about environmental justice and clean air in the document, but

Danny Serrano, Environmental Health Coalition. 00:02:11 -- 00:02:31 “When you get into the details. The MCAS goals and objectives of the document are clear that it is inadequate and will not significantly alter or change the business as usual environment at the port.”

Serrano says the Port plan needs to be specific about goals, timelines and how the Port will get there and his organization is pushing for aggressive goals. Serrano says the port needs to electrify its on terminal operations and expand that off terminal.

DS 00:08:55 – 00:09:13 “Develop a clean trucks program by the end of this year, 2021, with a clear and phased plan and strategies to transition 30 percent of the to zero emission vehicles by 2023 and again 100 percent by 2030.”

And the port seems receptive. Commissioner Michael Zuchett says the public concerns have been heard and the Port is planning another round of public input.

00:09:46 -- 00:10:03 “I think this is an example of a public agency not just putting a document out for comment by the public and then doing what they want anyway this is an example of an agency putting a document out. We got a lot of public comment, we’re going to be responsive to that comment.”

The Port is expected to compile the public comments and come back to the commissioners for approval sometime this summer. Zuchett says a working plan represents a huge change in Port operations moving forward.

11:15:45 – 11: 15:59 “Truck traffic is essential for the Port and how it does business, but now the Port will also be looking at managing clean air. Erik Anderson KPBS News

And that was KPBS Environment reporter Erik Anderson.

Last year the TV show Mythic quest produced a quarantine episode that cleverly used zoom, and now it’s back for a second season on Apple TV Plus.. KPBS arts reporter Beth Accomando went behind the scenes to explore the challenges creating comedy in a pandemic.


Mythic Quest season 2 has new episodes that drop each friday on apple tv plus.

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.