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A new way to fight COVID

 December 21, 2022 at 5:00 AM PST

Good Morning, I’m Erik Anderson, in for Debbie Cruz….it’s Wednesday, December 21st.

There’s a new way to fight COVID-19.

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


The Biden Administration is asking the U-S Supreme Court to lift the Trump-era rule known as Title 42… but not until next week.

Regardless of the delay, San Diego organizations are preparing for an influx of refugees and asylum seekers.

Nonprofits on both sides of the border say in Tijuana, many shelters are overwhelmed.


A San Diego federal judge ruled this week that part of California's recent gun bill is unconstitutional.

S-B 13-27 was signed into law by Governor Newsom in July.

It allows Californians to sue those making, selling, transporting or distributing assault weapons and ghost guns.

It was modeled after Texas' bill allowing its citizens to sue abortion doctors and clinics.

The judge blocked the fee-shifting provision of the bill.

The provision states those challenging California gun laws must prevail on all their claims or pay the state's attorneys' fees.


A new shelter for seniors experiencing homelessness is now open.

San Diego elected officials yesterday opened the ‘Seniors Landing Bridge Shelter.’

The facility is a leased hotel that has 33 private rooms.

It will be operated by the county's Serving Seniors program..

And will prioritize residents 55 and older who have been matched with housing resources.

The city is leasing the hotel through June next year, with options to renew the lease.


From KPBS, you’re listening to San Diego News Now. Stay with me for more of the local news you need.


Now that winter is upon us we’re also in the season of respiratory infections.

But there is a new way to fight one of the biggest ones, COVID-19.

KPBS Sci-tech reporter Thomas Fudge tells us about nasal vaccines. 

Booster shots do a very good job of preventing severe cases of COVID. But they don’t do much to prevent infections. Dr. Eric Topol is director of the Scripps Research Translational Institute. He says while masking helps with that, people’s reluctance to wear masks, especially during holiday gatherings, makes them impractical. ‘ So we need something more than masks. And there’s really only one other thing we can do.’ He said nasal vaccines are, pardon the pun, our best shot to block infections. Those spray vaccines are effective in the very place where virus-laden aerosols enter the body.  They’re already being used in India and China.  ‘It should work against all of the variants. And this is something that is very exciting, the ability to block infections and the whole chain of transmission.’ Topol says the one thing we’re unsure of is how long nasal vaccines remain effective. He hopes to see some news from health officials about nasal spray availability in the weeks ahead. Thomas Fudge KPBS news.


More and more migrants are taking to the sea in their attempt to cross into the U-S without detection.

Those attempts are often fatal along San Diego’s coastline.

Inewsource reporter Sofía Mejías-Pascoe has the story.

MEJIAS-PASCOE: The panga boat overflowed with passengers as it traveled from Ensenada to San Diego through the night. Maritime crossing attempts like this one from May of last year are “inherently dangerous,” according to customs officials. But immigration attorney Hollie Webb said restrictive border policies like Title 42 have made migrants more desperate. WEBB: “Nobody wakes up and just wants to cross in the most dangerous way possible, but they're put into a position where they don't feel like they have a choice to save their lives.” MEJIAS-PASCOE: Since March 2020, Title 42 has essentially closed off the US’s asylum system. The policy is set to end later this month. For KPBS, I’m inewsource reporter Sofía Mejías-Pascoe.

inewsource is an independently funded, nonprofit partner of KPBS.


This Holiday will be the first spent away from home for millions of Ukrainians who’ve fled the country since Russia invaded Ukraine back in February.

KPBS reporter Claire Strong met one family who is celebrating in a new country this year.

13-year-old Misha wants something money can’t buy this Christmas.“ For the war to be over” Misha - along with his parents and sister - fled to San Diego in August after Russian bombs destroyed their home town in Ukraine. They’ll now be spending Christmas thousands of miles away from everything they’ve always known. But at least they’re safe, thanks to Ukrainian born Olga Ginzberg - who brought the family to San Diego after fleeing here herself more than two decades ago. “The most difficult and the most hardest part is to leave your friends and your family behind. When you had a good life there. You come and you don’t know what to expect” The United Nations estimates at least 12 million Ukrainians have been forced to leave their homes since Russia invaded. Claire Strong, KPBS News.


Coming up.... A San Diego jazz trumpeter has a new album out, after years of health struggles. We’ll have that story and more, next, just after the break.


Feeding San Diego hosted another special holiday food distribution yesterday, this time at Southwestern College.

While we’ve seen many of these big events since the pandemic, KPBS reporter Melissa Mae tells us… no one expected the need to go on so long.

MM: For almost two years, Feeding San Diego has been hosting large scale, drive through food distributions. They were started to help families during the pandemic. MM: Carissa Casares is the senior communications manager for Feeding San Diego. CC “These were never really intended to be permanent. This was an emergency response for all the families that were struggling, but because of inflation because of the rise of costs of nearly everything, we just aren’t seeing the lines go down.”  MM: Families received about 40 lbs of food… Including some holiday staples. MM: Feeding San Diego was prepared to serve 2,000 families and a total of 17 hundred families were given nutritious food. Melissa Mae KPBS News.


Transition Line: More help for families during the holidays is underway across the county.

Many kids this holiday season have been getting sick with respiratory viruses… and parents with hospitalized little ones haven’t had much time for holiday shopping.

KPBS Health reporter Matt Hoffman visited Rady Children’s where staff are helping spread some holiday cheer.

Anything with cars they’re into wheels Santa is getting some extra help this year thanks to Rady Children’s hospital and donations from San Diegans.. Temecula resident Kimberly Murphy has her hands full after her three boys recently came down with the respiratory virus RSV. Murphy I can’t believe christmas is in five days it’s been a bit of whirlwind That’s why Rady’s toy and book event is so critical -- Murphy has been focused on her boys, especially two-week old Trey who’s spent the last few days in the hospital on oxygen. Kimberly Murphy, lives in Temecula watching him struggle to breathe was the hardest thing I’ve ever had to watch. He’s resilient and he’s going to be okay Trey is expected to be released from the hospital in time for Christmas.. And he and his brothers will have presents under the tree. MH KPBS News

Around 300 kids are hospitalized at Rady’s and all of their parents were offered Santa’s help this holiday season.


San Diego jazz trumpeter Gilbert Castellanos has a new album out — his first in almost a decade.

The record also represents a triumphant return to music for Castellanos after a rocky few years.

KPBS arts producer and editor Julia Dixon Evans takes a closer look.

New Delhi It’s been a period of waiting and uncertainty for Gilbert Castellanos, local jazz trumpet great and the founder of the Young Lions Jazz Conservancy. Since 2019, his career was interrupted by debilitating jaw and mouth pain — and a string of major surgeries to correct serious dental problems caused by playing the trumpet. And then there was the pandemic. But Castellanos is back, and he is deeply, unflinchingly grateful. MAKE IT COUNT "Every time I play, I treat it like it's my last day living. I treat it like it's the altar. When I step on that bandstand, I call it the altar of joy, because it's a privilege to do what I do… My whole attitude has changed when it comes to music. Who knows if I ever get to play music again? And I want to make it count, every time I play." Castellanos just released a new jazz album, called— "Espérame en el Cielo." It translates to "wait for me in heaven." New Delhi It’s a collection of the songs that provided solace during a dark time, and also hope — that soon he'd play the trumpet again. MUSIC GOT ME THROUGH The thing about this album that's so special to me is that it really kind of represents the period of everything that I've been going through for these last three years. You know, my life has just been turned upside down, and this music is the music that got me through that. Jazz pianist and composer Joshua White arranged the songs on the album for a 5-piece band: piano, drums, bass, alto saxophone and Castellanos on trumpet. New Delhi Bilad as Sudan The album begins with the chaotic and fragmented opening notes of "Bilad as Sudan." Castellanos' trumpet floats in with arpeggios and truncated phrases . Bilad SUCKER PUNCH "It almost sounds like you're gonna go into a ballad, and then all of a sudden It's just like a sucker punch and we go into this hard bop melody that's just kind of in your face" Bilad Big P Another track is "Big P," written by American jazz legend Jimmy Heath for his brother, bassist Percy Heath. Castellanos wanted to record it as a tribute to the Heath Family — he says the track hasn't been recorded much. The past is a big part of jazz, he says, and it's central to the way he teaches music. HISTORY DNA SHORT "In jazz, in particular, I think that history plays a huge role. I look at it as being your DNA for becoming a great jazz musician and having your own voice. " Esperame en el Cielo The title track is a mournful Latin-American piece. TEARS TO MY EYES "It's a beautiful bolero. To this day it brings tears to my eyes" The original song has lyrics, which are crafted into the trumpet melody. Castellanos delivers a low, understated trumpet sound — it almost seems like singing. That simple, subdued song is the one he spent the most time working on. Esperame "I know when you listen to the album, you hear some of the more complex and just more intricate arrangements, but this one is the one that is my heart and soul and that's why it's the title track." Castellanos still has one more surgery to repair his jaw, but for the time being, he is basking in the joy of this album — a love letter to perseverance, hope, and to music. Esperame en el Cielo JDE KPBS News.

TAG: San Diego jazz trumpeter Gilbert Castellanos' new album, "Espérame en el Cielo" is out now.


San Diego pickleball enthusiasts have found themselves in a bit of a sour situation.

The game requires a special court and there are few places to play in the city.

KPBS reporter Claire Trageser says this led to drama over the summer, and the city is still working on solutions.

You can hear it from the parking lot. Emanating from a Chula Vista park on a warm Thursday evening is the sound of hundreds of plastic pickleballs slamming into the hard asphalt. Men and women, young and old gathered to play the trendy sport that has exploded in popularity in recent years. Mark Brisebois Pickleball Enthusiast “If you look at my contact list on my cell phone, I probably have 400 people I've met playing pickleball.” One of them is 71-year-old Mark Brisebois, who switched to pickleball from tennis 10 years ago and never looked back. But these picklers have a, well, pickle. “I'm appalled at the fact that San Diego does not jump on the bandwagon and get into the pickleball swing.” Local picklers are led by Stefan Boyland, one of the founders of Pickleball SD. In pickleball, there are dinkers, who make soft shots; and bangers, who drive the ball hard to overpower their opponents. In his dealings with the city, Boyland is definitely a banger. Stefan Boyland Pickleball SD Founder “We've gotten a lot of lip service, but we haven't gotten a lot of action, we still have zero dedicated public pickleball courts in the city of San Diego…  That's right, zero. You heard me right. We're about five years behind every other city.” Boyland clearly has a mission to bring pickleball to the masses. But like many before him who have attempted to get the city of San Diego to do anything in a timely fashion, Boyland is stymied. To build new courts, he needs meetings, plans, approvals, permits and construction. Pickleball, he says, can not wait. So Boyland rose up, staging what amounted to an #OccupyTennis protest, or maybe a pickle-in! Last week, he and other picklers stormed the courts at Robb Field in Ocean Beach, set up their own pickleball net, and started to play. A tennis player called the police, and a dispute erupted over whether they had an active permit. No charges were filed. Tim Graham Parks & Recreation Spokesperson “The city wants both of the sports to thrive, but not with hindering one over the other.” Tim Graham is a spokesman for the parks department, and says the city has no plans to change the tennis courts at Robb Field to pickleball. “The city is trying to find ways to provide as many pickleball courts as possible without displacing other organizations or to try and find them to put them together as quickly as possible without building an entirely new facility.” Options include taking over unused shuffleboard courts—apparently there’s no shuffleboard lobby in the city to protest—plus striping new pickleball courts on basketball courts or other hard surfaces. And the city has brought in a national expert to interview both sides and come up with a pickleball-tennis peace treaty. “I understand that once people get into this sport, it's pretty addictive, and people seem to really love it… But the city's doing its best to provide these services as quickly as we can.” At noon on a recent Friday, only a few courts at Robb Field were being used by tennis players. While outsiders might wonder why they can’t share tennis courts with pickleball, that just won’t work, says Todd Sprague. Todd Sprague Peninsula Tennis Club Member “If you play pickleball, it has a very different sound, OK? Those sports are not necessarily compatible next to each other.” Plus the lines on the courts are different, the nets are different, and  players would want the courts at the same time. Sprague says he agrees there is a need for more pickleball facilities in San Diego. “But cannibalizing tennis facilities when tennis is growing and has grown, doesn’t make any sense at all.” So the city is left working on a compromise…that doesn’t involve cannibalism. CT KPBS News.

We will have an update on pickleball activists' efforts for more places to play in San Diego on tomorrow’s podcast.


That’s it for the podcast today. As always you can find more San Diego news online at KPBS dot org. I’m Erik Anderson. Thanks for listening and have a great day.

A local health expert talks about a new way to fight COVID-19 with nasal vaccines. In other news, it’s the first holiday season spent away from home for millions of Ukrainians who fled the country since Russia invaded it back in February. Plus, a San Diego jazz trumpeter has a new album out, after years of health struggles.