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Monkeypox in San Diego

 July 12, 2022 at 5:00 AM PDT

Good Morning, I’m Debbie Cruz….it’s Tuesday, July 12th.

Monkeypox in San Diego. More on that next. But first... let’s do the headlines….

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The California Nurses Association and the University of California have agreed on a new three-year contract for UC nurses.

The deal includes wage increases, one-time recognition payments and more paid leave.

The agreement goes into effect immediately, and will run through October 31st, 2025.

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We’ve all been impacted by inflation recently.

But new research done by UC San Diego's School of Global Policy and Strategy, found that inflation was 13-percent more volatile for Black families compared to white families.

The study found Black families experience higher prices on groceries and household essentials.

UC San Diego economics professor Munseob Lee is the author of the study.

He said Black and low-income households are more likely to live in food deserts where products became more expensive and harder to get because of increased shipping costs and supply chain issues.

Survey responses were collected from 60-thousand US households from 2004 to 2020.

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Police seized five-thousand pounds of methamphetamine in National City on Thursday.

Federal authorities say it was one of the largest meth seizures in San Diego County.

Four men from Tijuana were charged with Federal drug trafficking counts after allegedly being spotted moving dozens of boxes filled with the meth from a truck, to a van.

The four men were arrested at the scene.

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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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As San Diego struggles with yet another spike in COVID cases, another virus has also been catching the attention of health officials in recent months.

According to the CDC, there have been over 750 confirmed cases of monkeypox in the U.S., with over 130 of those in California.

While only a small number of cases have been reported in San Diego, case numbers are growing in other parts of the U.S.

Dr. Robert Schooley, infectious disease expert from UC San Diego joined KPBS' Jade Hindmon to talk about the virus.

That was Dr. Robert Schooley speaking with KPBS’s Jade Hindmon.

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A U.S. House subcommittee met in Oceanside yesterday (Monday).

KPBS Military reporter Steve Walsh says they heard how the high cost of living is pushing many veterans and local military members to go without food.

A House Veterans Affairs subcommittee chaired by Congressman Mike Levin took testimony on hunger among veterans and active duty military. The US Department of Agriculture estimates roughly 11 percent of veterans live in households where they at times go hungry, though many don’t access services. Anahid Brakke is President SD Hunger Coalition: It’s not just about outreach and handing people information. It’s about what happens when they start that application to submit it and get through the enrollment process. It’s undignified. It’s overly complicated. And these are all things that can be fixed with federal legislation.” The VA has begun screening clients for food insecurity. Nationwide veterans who suffer from PTSD or have a disability are more likely to also go hungry at times. Women veterans are also particularly vulnerable. Steve Walsh KPBS News

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This weekend, the first full-scale San Diego PRIDE parade and festival in more than two years will be held.

With the celebrations, there is concern about illegal drug use that could lead to overdoses and a growing number of deaths.

KPBS Education reporter M.G. Perez tells us about a new program to save LGBTQ lives with lessons in harm reduction.

“I like to keep everything in order so it’s easier to give them what they need.” Heather Newhart has 30 years of experience in social work and drug treatment strategies. She often works on the streets supporting homeless addicts through the Harm Reduction Coalition of San Diego. That means filling paper bags to-go with toiletry items as well as clean needles to inject illegal drugs and boxes of Narcan, the nasal spray that revives someone who has overdosed on opioids and stops breathing… “if you want to come down here, I will gladly give you some fentanyl strips..ok…um…how long will you be there for?” These days, Newhart and her team also take calls from people who want to test their street drugs for the potent synthetic opioid fentanyl before using them. Fentanyl is 50-to-100 times stronger than morphine or heroin. “It’s just so easy to overdose on a very, very small amount.” is shadowing Newhart and the coalition street team… learning how to support addicts who are still using. He is the program leader of StepIn…a new harm reduction outreach to the county’s LGTBQ community. According to the National Library of Medicine, gays and other sexual minorities are more than twice as likely to abuse drugs than their straight peers. is one of them. “I can tell you my story, but I was actually not breathing for part of it…so…” …before getting clean and sober from heroin…he tried smoking fentanyl for the first time and only time… “...I saw the smoke come out of my mouth…” “...and that was it..that’s all I remember” “the next memory I have…I was all scrunched up on my friend’s couch.” “I was like… ‘what happened?’ …and he said I had to hit you with Narcan…he said, I had to hit you with Narcan twice.” Narcan helped start his heart and saved his life. It also started his road to recovery from drugs and alcohol. Now, is working to get narcan into the hands of other LGBTQ users before they die. The Step In program will provide other life-saving resources, too…the call for help begins with a simple text message to the Step In hotline. “what to do in case of an overdose…how to recognize an overdose…we’ll have a lot of information…a lot of education and hopefully it will give usa way to maintain that dialogue with folks that are sometimes, honestly, very difficult to reach.”“One…We admitted we were powerless over alcohol…” Recovering addicts and alcoholics have found a safe haven at the Live and Let Live Alano Club in the heart of Hillcrest. The majority of members are LGBTQ …although anyone is welcomed to attend the almost 50 meetings a week that include 12 step recovery and harm reduction programs. Robert Tice is one of the Club’s board members who is also a drug counselor in a South Bay hospital emergency room. “harm reduction meetings mean that we believe that we can’t judge that abstinence based programs is the only way for you to get sober. Tice says the crisis is that almost every street drug is now laced with fentanyl…which you can’t see, smell or taste until it’s too late. The Alano Club is partnered with the County Health Department and provides free Narcan at the coffee bar for anyone who wants it…no questions asked. (when do you give up on an addict?)...never…not me.” Pam Highfill is the Out patient Director of Stepping Stone…the nationally recognized LGBTQ recovery program with a residential facility in City Heights. She is supervising the new StepIn program reaching out to those who need help the most…“As long as there’s breath there’s hope…and so I think to be able to meet people where they’re at…and give them a glimmer…that we’re not going to judge them for where they’re at…we’re going to respect where they’re at and where they want to be…it gives them that first idea that they have worth.” …A glimmer of self worth that could be just a text message away. MGP KPBS News

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Coming up.... An update on the new sidewalk vending rules. We’ll have that story and more, next, just after the break.

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It’s been a couple of weeks since new rules took effect for sidewalk vendors in the city of San Diego.

KPBS reporter Jacob Aere took a look at how enforcement is going.

Sidewalk vendors are no longer in Balboa Park for the summer months. And while the new vendor ordinance can’t be enforced in the beach areas until the Coastal Commission approves it… there’s been a change there too. Lisa Apablasa, has been selling hats near the boardwalk in Mission Beach for three years. “It’s probably a good 60% have disappeared. The whole beach used to be full of vendors everywhere. Like you couldn't even walk on the grass or anywhere. So now that you actually have to have the vending permit, it has gotten rid of a lot of people.” Apablasa says park rangers have been removing tents and other gear left overnight in Mission Beach. They’ve also been kicking out those without proper permits. Jacob Aere, KPBS News.

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Temporary permits for outdoor dining in San Diego are expiring tomorrow (Wednesday).

KPBS metro reporter Andrew Bowen says many of the structures, called parklets, may soon have to come down.

Lara Worm is preparing to say goodbye to an outdoor dining space that helped keep her business afloat during the COVID lockdowns. LW: And as things started to open up, it offered us a little bit extra, in an attempt to recoup some of the losses. AB: Worm owns Bivouac Ciderworks on 30th Street in North Park. Her outdoor dining space wasn’t eligible for a permit renewal because it's in the middle of a bike lane. But she doesn't resent cyclists. LW: The bike lanes have not had a negative impact on my business, and in fact they may have had a positive impact because we've had a lot of support from the biking community. AB: Higher fees and stricter regulations for permanent outdoor dining structures appear to be putting a damper on the activity. So far, only 15 businesses in all of San Diego have completed their applications for a new permit. Andrew Bowen, KPBS news.

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They’re cute … tiny … and San Diego is the only place you can see them on the West Coast.

They’re little blue penguins and the subject of a new exhibit at Birch Aquarium.

These penguins are the smallest in the world. They’re native to Australia and New Zealand. Kayla Strate is the penguin expert that Birch.

"This exhibit has 15 penguins now. We'd love to have over 20. This exhibit is actually designed to hold almost 40 birds. Because they're colonial, they love to be in large groups in close proximity to one another. When you're small, safety in numbers is the name of the game."

Of the 18 species of penguins … the Little Blue Penguin is so-named because they’re the only ones whose feathers have a blue hue.

“Their plumage has a really unique sort of navy color that really shines in the sun. It has different hues of almost aqua or cornflower blue, and that's pretty unique to the species.”

The exhibit opens tomorrow (Wednesday)

And we do want to note, Birch Aquarium is a supporter of KPBS.

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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.

A local infectious disease specialist talks about how health officials are preparing for more monkeypox cases in the county. Meanwhile, a new program aims to help the LGBTQ+ community with addiction. Plus, San Diego’s newest penguin exhibit is the only place on the West Coast where you can see the world’s smallest penguins.