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COVID-related hospitalizations increase

 July 25, 2022 at 5:00 AM PDT

Good Morning, I’m Erik Anderson, filling in for Debbie Cruz….it’s Monday, July 25th.

COVID-related hospitalizations. More on that next. But first... let’s do the headlines….


As if San Diego doesn’t have enough going on in July with Pride Month and Comic-Con, the Del Mar horse races are also back. The 83rd season of the races kicked off Friday. As is the tradition, people showed up in their fanciest hats to bet on the races in style. The summer season runs each weekend, through September 11th.


San Diego County’s unemployment rate is up for the first time in months. The rate increased to three-point-two-percent last month, which is up from May’s rate of two-point-seven-percent.

the state Employment Development Department says the Unemployment rate in San Diego is still much lower than last year. In June 20-21, the unemployment rate was seven-point-three-percent.


A San Diego judge approved the conditional release of a man classified as a sexually violent predator. Michael Martinez will be released to live in a home in Borrego Springs, where he will be monitored via GPS and receive treatment. The San Diego County District Attorney's Office says, Martinez was convicted for child molestation and lewd acts in four separate cases between 1979 and 2004. He is expected to be placed in the home within the next 45 days.


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


A jump in COVID-related hospitalizations has put San Diego County in the Center’s for disease Control’s high risk tier. But this latest wave of hospitalizations is breaking differently than those that came before it. KPBS Health Reporter Matt Hoffman explains.

The summer surge is seeing about 460 San Diegans hospitalized with COVID-19 – that’s four times what we had in May.. But it’s still less than previous surges, and this wave of hospitalizations is different in another way-- McClain It is across the board much less acute Sharp Healthcare Chief Operating officer Brett McClain says the good news is fewer San Diegans are needing to be admitted to the ICU or put on ventilators– The overall picture is a less acute variant thank goodness It’s unclear if officials are seeing less severe illness because the new BA5 variant is milder or due to the ‘wall’ of protection built up with vaccinations or previous infections -- or a mix of both. MH KPBS News.


San Diego's Metropolitan Transit System is buying more electric buses. KPBS metro reporter Andrew Bowen says the agency is on track to double its electric fleet this year.

AB: Currently, MTS has only 13 electric buses. A contract approved by the board of directors this week lays the groundwork for growing that fleet more than 16-fold over the next five years. The deal also authorizes buying more than 250 buses that run on compressed natural gas. Board chairman Nathan Fletcher says those will help keep the system running as MTS works towards a deadline of going all-electric by 2040. NF: We know in the interim we don't have enough charging capacity. There's not enough range, particularly on the larger buses. We still need some technology advances, but it's moving rapidly and I am very, very confident that we will get there. AB: MTS ridership has been higher than expected this year, likely fueled in part by high gas prices. Andrew Bowen, KPBS news.


Coming up.... A new video game that takes kids on a scientific journey inside their body’s cells. We’ll have that story and more, just after the break.


New overnight camping options are being considered at Silver Strand State Beach in San Diego’s South Bay.. KPBS reporter Jacob Aere says it's part of a statewide effort to make camping more accessible to people with low incomes.

With help from an online survey, California State Parks officials are working to expand access at Silver Strand State Beach. They want to help low and moderate income households, youth organizations and others who have trouble affording the camping fees at the beach just south of Coronado, Roxanne Avant is executive director of the organization Urban Surf for Kids. She says non-traditional approaches are needed. “Whether it’s financial barriers, transportation, economical barriers or just geographically where they're located – they may live here and have never experienced the beach before. ”Cottages, trailers, and traditional campsites are currently being considered. The 20 minute survey has to be completed by the end of day on July 27. The new accommodations would be developed over the next several years. Jacob Aere, KPBS News.


A new video game that takes kids on a scientific journey inside their body’s cells debuted at COMIC CON over the weekend. The game was created by a couple of San Diego scientists. KPBS Education Reporter M.G. Perez has more.

“I’m a biologist but also an artist.” BeeAHta Meerzwa is a UC-San Diego cancer researcher who also happens to be a fashion designer and now a video game creator. Together, with another San Diego scientist, she created MICROSCOPYA…a game that takes kids into their body through a cellphone, tablet or computer screen…more specifically into their own individual cells…“you get to go on a journey to the inside of a cell and explore the molecular world and all the beauty that’s going on there.” MICROSCOPYA is a video game that uses puzzles, pictures, and music in a fun format to teach about biology. It debuted at COMIC CON over the weekend and is now available as a free downloadable app for android or IOS…you can also find it on a browser. MGP KPBS News


The 501st (five-oh-first) Legion is a worldwide costuming organization run by fans dedicated to creating screen accurate villain costumes from the Star Wars Universe.

When KPBS arts reporter Beth Accomando got her own stormtrooper costume, she decided to attend an armor party of the local Imperial Sands Garrison to find out about joining the Legion.

I really am too short to be a stormtrooper. But Dean Amstutz assures me I am not. DEAN AMSTUTZ 501st does not discriminate based on height, body shape, gender, anything like that. Amstutz is the Garrison Membership Liaison. He’s in charge of approving all the costumes for the San Diego and Imperial rural county areas including my stormtrooper. DEAN AMSTUTZ I can tell from looking at the lenses, these are bubble lenses, that this is an ANH hero helmet instead of a stunt, which is the ones that, like, Luke and Han wore. Amstutz consults something called a Character Reference Library. DEAN AMSTUTZ We call it a CRL for short. And it's basically the list of requirements you have to meet for the costume to be screen accurate. So part of the 501st Legion is that we are all about film accuracy. So we don't want to look like just guys in Stormtrooper costumes. We want to look like we stepped right off the film set. Or onto one. Although the volunteer organization is not affiliated with Lucasfilm, members of the 501st recently appeared as extras in the Obi-Wan-Kenobi show and they arrived on the set in full screen accurate gear. The 501st includes all the Star Wars villains and all variations of stormtroopers. DEAN AMSTUTZ From the animated shows, from comic books. There's Special Ops, Stormtroopers, there's sand, troopers. So there are dozens of different types of troopers. That means a CRL for each says Lindsey Cepak, Legion executive officer. LINDSEY CEPAK We try to get angles from all the sides. Sometimes we even have to use action figures if we don't have all of the sides that we need. So we try to rely on action figures a little bit less, but we'll take that and then people will get together on what we call a detachment forum, which is basically people who are dedicated to just that type of costume. Cepak is second in command for the global organization of 14,000 members in 60 different countries. When I met Cepak she was at an armor party. LINDSEY CEPAK It is what we do at the local level to get members together. But it's not only for members. It's also for potential members who are looking to join the 501st…You come here and everybody gets together and works on the costume together. The organization encourages members to partake in a lot of charity work. Shane Holly is the garrison commanding officer of the Imperial Sands Garrison. He recalled doing an event and meeting a little girl. SHANE HOLLY When I’m in Vader, I'm like almost 7ft tall. And so as soon as I got down onto my knees, she ran out from behind her dad and gave me the biggest bear hug I've ever had in my life. And at that point I'm just like tearing up and everything. That’s why he loves being part of the 501st. Plus it pushes him to expand his skill set. SHANE HOLLY Since starting, I've learned how to sew, I've learned how to 3D print, I've learned how to make costumes out of sheets of plastic. I've learned so much from being a part of this club and other clubs that I participate in that it's something that I never thought that I would be doing. Fellow 501st member Ermer Michelle Twaño has taken it a step further. ERMER MICHELLE TWANO First, it was a hobby. I still work full time, but at the same time, doing Etsy. I put some stuff on there, like robots and droid parts, and then all of a sudden, it blew up. And then now on my Etsy. Site, it's actually official now. It's called TD Outpost, and you can see all the work I've done…so it's been an extra side business for me, too. As Amstutz looks over my armor he stops at the belt. DEAN AMSTUTZ I'll pull out my handy tape measure. Size must be two and three quarters to three and a quarter inches. So let's see what you got. Yeah, this is a four inch belt. LINDSEY CEPAK Sometimes the difference between getting in and getting out is a stitch in the right place.Again Cepak. LINDSEY CEPAK And you know what? If your stitches aren’t the right place, it doesn't make your costume any better or any worse than anybody else's. It's all about what you're feeling comfortable with and what you want to do with your costume. If you want to go to the dark side then check out the 501st either online or at their fan table or panel at Comic-Con. Beth Accomando, KPBS News.

The region’s unofficial cosplay headquarters, comic con, was back for the first time in two years over the weekend.


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.

COVID-related hospitalizations are rising, but far fewer people are in ICUs or on ventilators. Meanwhile, new overnight camping options are being considered at Silver Strand Beach in San Diego’s South Bay region. Plus, San Diego scientists create a new video game that takes kids on a scientific journey inside their body’s cells.