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Gardening in jail

 July 11, 2022 at 5:00 AM PDT

Good Morning, I’m Debbie Cruz….it’s Monday, July 11th.

Wastewater detects COVID variants in San Diego County.

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

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The county health department is calling for increased vigilance as COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations are on the rise.

Dr. Cameron Kaiser, is a county deputy public health officer.

He says the county is also seeing an increase in reinfections

“Everybody’s immunity wanes over time, whether you got it after infection before whether you got it after vaccination. And Omicron is getting better at being able to get through people's ability to have immunity to it.”

Health Officials say the best way to prevent more transmission and hospitalizations is to get vaccinated, wear a mask in crowded spaces and isolate from others when sick.

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San Diego’s MTS is one step closer to transitioning to electric vehicles.

The public transit service received more than 33-million dollars from the state Friday, to help its efforts to transition to a zero-emission fleet by 2040.

The money will also help MTS expand the 12th and Imperial Transit Center in Downtown and make improvements to trolley stations along the Orange Line.

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The Ocean Beach pier is now fully open for the first time this year.

Repairs on the 55 year old pier started in December to fix damage caused by high surf and storms.

But the repairs that allowed the pier to reopen aren’t enough.

A recent report warns that the pier is in need of desperate rehabilitation.

Estimates for the necessary fixes range from 30 to 50 million dollars.

The O-B pier is the second longest on the West coast and attracts 500-thousand visitors a year.

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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.

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The highly contagious COVID variants, called BA5 and BA4, now make up more than 50-percent of infections in San Diego.

Researchers wouldn’t know that without the help of waste water surveillance.

KPBS Health reporter Matt Hoffman has the story.

For the last couple of years San Diego researchers have been checking sewage from treatment plants for COVID-19.. It’s proven to be an early indicator of when cases are coming.. And a recent article published in the journal Nature details how the process can also quickly identify new variants.. Dr. Chris Longhurst, UC San Diego Health CTO it showed the waste water surveillance preceded the discovering of variants in clinical cases by 2-3 weeks UC San Diego Health Chief information officer Dr. Chris Longhurst says sewage is collected at three treatment plants across the county.. He says this data gathering isn’t just faster than testing in clinics, it’s also cheaper. Longhurst Every one of our wastewater tests in the lets say hundreds of dollars but testing a clinical sample is much more expensive The project is a collaboration between UC San Diego, Scripps Research and state and local health departments. Researchers have presented the waste water detection model to the CDC, and it’s since been made publically available. MH KPBS News.

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The City of San Diego is starting the process of firing about 10 more employees who refuse COVID vaccinations and tests.

KPBS investigative reporter Claire Trageser has been following the story.

San Diego requires all employees to be vaccinated for COVID, but let about 1,000 employees skip the vaccine for religious reasons. Those employees then have to get tested weekly, but a small group refused that, too. Records obtained by KPBS show the employees said testing violates their religious beliefs—because the swabs are sterilized with a carcinogen. But medical and religious experts say those concerns are baseless. Now the city is starting the process of firing about 10 more employees—bringing the total to 52. That includes 20 police officers. The rest are from the teamsters, fire and municipal employee unions. This is the beginning of the process—the employees will still go through a negotiation process with the city and their unions. CT KPBS

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And hundreds of California National Guard troops will not be paid, after a deadline passed without them being vaccinated.

KPBS Military reporter Steve Walsh has that story.

Roughly 87 percent of California Air and Army National Guard troops have been fully vaccinated for COVID-19. The Pentagon decreed that all guard and reserves must be vaccinated by June 30. The National Guard is controlled by each state, but the federal government picks up most of the cost. Unvaccinated troops will not be paid or be allowed to accrue points toward retirement. They will not be able to participate in any federal mission or monthly training. They risk being removed from the guard and being unable to reenlist. More than 17,000 guard troops are fully vaccinated. 9 members of the air national guard received medical exemptions. By contrast, 98 percent of active duty troops are now vaccinated for COVID-19. Steve Walsh KPBS News.

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The U.S. remains on edge after its latest high-profile mass shooting at a 4th of July parade in Chicago.

Seven people were killed and many more injured.

After mass shootings like the one in Chicago, we’re left wondering ‘why?’

Tage Rai, is a professor at UC San Diego’s Rady School of Management and the co-author of the book “Virtuous Violence.” He spoke with KPBS’s Jade Hindmon about that.

You recently spoke with San Diego Union-Tribune reporter Gary Robbins and in the article you questioned the often immediate labeling of mass shooters as “mentally ill.” Why do you think that is a concern?

Your research into the causes of violence suggests there is often a deeper motivation for the perpetrators. Tell us more about that.

Did your research find any potential tools to counteract these ideological ties that you say can lead to someone committing violence?

Your research found that social pressure may be a key piece to combating these motivations. Can you tell us more about what your research experiments found there?

What do you think the criminal justice system can take away from your research?

TAG: That was Tage Rai, assistant professor of management at UC San Diego’s Rady School of Management and co-author of the book “Virtuous Violence,” speaking with KPBS Midday Edition host Jade Hindmon.

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Coming up.... Workers prefer flexibility over working from home. We’ll have that story and more, next, just after the break.

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People who’ve served time in prison often face big obstacles when they get out.

But there are several programs in San Diego County that aim to help make that transition easier.

KPBS reporter Kitty Alvarado shows us one that’s using gardening to grow more than plants.

Tomatoes are grown back there we have all types of vegetables This vegetable garden is in a place you might not expect… the Men’s East Mesa ReEntry Facility in Otay Mesa. The people caring for the plants and vegetables are inmates with less than six months left in their sentences The people caring for the plants and vegetables are inmates with less than six months left in their sentences at the Men's East Mesa ReEntry Facility in Otay Mesa … nat sound There’s a method to the madness you know And at the womens’ Las Colinas Detention and Reentry Program in Santee Nat sound gravel and Here, they’re just students learning the art and aof horticulture, landscaping and farm to table sustainable growing. Yeah I’m going to plant them see how it rooted amazing right 38-year-old Pemberton Tran has become quite the expert in succulents. 19 you clearly see the roots growing, and I’ll cut the end of the other leaf and I’ll just repot it And 20 year old Breeana from the Coachella Valley Ever, never would I have thought but I’m very glad that I am now considers herself a farmer … There’s nothing better than tasting something right off the vine or from the soil Spending time nurturing the plants gives her time to reflect When you spend a lot of time growing something and committing to it you start thinking about other things in your life and it just makes me feel really appreciative Francisco Quinteros is a supervising correctional counselor with the program. He says they’re growing more than plants here. They’re helping people grow Francisco Quinteros East Mesa REentry Facility We’re investing in people here … so it’s just really rewarding helping individuals who never got a chance in life and now we’re equipping them with the proper tools necessary to not come back It has been pretty much a safe haven for me to learn something new to rehabilitate and work on recovering … Tran can’t believe he’s become so skilled in such a short time and this peaceful greenhouse and task at hand is a sharp contrast to a life he’s healing from. No this is all new to me, I’m a combat veteran, you know and a recovering addict … and I came back feeling suicidal, feeling guilt .. feeling really, really down and out and I felt like no one understood how I was feeling This program is a partnership between the San Diego Sheriff’s Department and the San Diego County Parks and Recreation Department. When inmates complete the program, not only will they have the know-how and certification, they will also be given employment and union connections to land a job. Tran says in an odd way it’s given him freedom – not just in here, but on the outside too. This is an option, we got to have options you know so, my mind, when, I step out that door at least I know I have an avenue of seeking employment Breeana says she plans to take what she learned and give back to her community We have a community garden in Desert Hot Springs I don’t know how it’s doing right now, but I would really love to do something and show what I learned to other people because it’s a really useful skill Her favorite thing to grow: I really like the flowers because the flowers are super resilient because they grow and they die and they just come right back … A perfect metaphor for second chances – exactly what this program provides … she got her G.E.D. while at Las Colinas When you fall I think that you should always get back up and I think that getting back up isn’t just okay I’m going to try it again no it’s you’re going to find something that works for you and I think that this works for me cause it makes me mindful and it makes me genuinely happy Bridget Wright the reentry supervisor at Las Colinas Reentry facility says hearing that gives HER hope Bridget Wright Las Colinas Reentry Facility Incredibly validating that what we’re doing is working… they made a mistake, we’re not here to punish them we’re here to offer them more and offer them opportunities to grow and invest in themselves in themselves for their future success Over at East Mesa. Tran says back in the day his mom would try to get him to garden with her And I’m like agh, I got stuff I got to do But now he’s looking forward to giving her a hug and a hand in the backyard I only have my mom left you know my dad passed away last year and I think this experience right here was meant to be you know so when I get released I’ll be able to spend more quality time with her, you know and maybe I can teach her a few things (laughs) or maybe she can teach me a few things. Kitty Alvarado. KPBS News

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A group of Borrego Springs residents attended a hearing on Friday to try to convince a judge not to allow the placement of a sexually violent predator in their community.

More from KPBS reporter John Carroll.

“I was in shock.” That was the reaction from Borrego Springs resident Linda Arambula after reading on Facebook that the State Department of Hospitals is recommending sexually violent predator Michael Martinez be placed into a supervised home on Running M Road in Borrego Springs. Arambula says putting Martinez in her neighborhood is inappropriate… and frightening. “We’re gonna be in fear, like where is he at? We don’t know. Sometimes the internet gets down and electricity gets down and we’re more vulnerable for him.” Judge David Gill took the matter under consideration. He will visit the neighborhood in the near future to assess the situation for himself. It’s expected he’ll issue a decision within a few weeks. JC, KPBS News.

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A new human resources company in San Diego is focused on helping businesses manage remote workers.

They say the pandemic has shown them that flexibility matters more to employees than working from home.

KPBS reporter Thomas Fudge has more.

The startup company Amplisal was begun by three UC San Diego professors who were looking at changes in the workplace. Those changes had begun prior to the pandemic but were accelerated when people were forced to work from home. Now that restrictions have eased, hybrid work models are the likely result. “People don’t want to be home all the time. They want a mix of at home and in the office.” UCSD economics professor Joshua Graff Zivin is one of the founders of Amplisal. He says workers are less concerned about where they work, and more concerned about keeping the flexibility that came with remote work. “So that people are saying that, you know what, I want to take my kid to school, and then work. And then pick up my kid from school and get them stationed in front of their homework, then go back to work. And you can’t so that in a conventional job that has you coming in at 8 or 9 in the morning and having you leave at 5 or 6.” He says there is no evidence that remote work and work flexibility have affected employee productivity. SOQ.

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

Wastewater surveillance helps identify COVID variants in San Diego County. Meanwhile, the city of San Diego started the process of firing employees for refusing COVID vaccines and tests. Plus, San Diego inmates care for plants and vegetables during the final months of their sentence.