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Nursing homes and Omicron

 February 8, 2022 at 5:00 AM PST

Good morning. I'm Annica Colbert. It's Tuesday, February 8th, visiting nursing homes amid omicron more on that next, but first let's do the headlines California's mask mandate for vaccinated. People will end a week from today. The announcement was made by state health officials yesterday. The change comes amid a decline in COVID cases. Masks will still be required for school children. Those who are UN vaccinated and for anyone in high risk areas, such as public of transit and nursing homes, local governments can still have their own masking requirements. If they choose California, lawmakers have extended COVID sick leave requirements for businesses with 25 or more employees, workers who contract coronavirus will get up to to two weeks of paid time off the bill is retroactive to January 1st. The previous state law expired last September

Speaker 1: (01:16)

17 female athletes from San Diego state university filed a sex discrimination class action lawsuit against the school. On Monday, they alleged that the school violated title IX by depriving women of equal athletic financial aid. The lawsuit seeks to make SDSU pay its past and current female athletes over 1.2 million in financial aid that they were denied over the past two years, along with any money for this year, the lawsuit is the first title IX, athletic financial aid damages case in the country from KPBS. You are listening to San Diego news. Now stay with me for more of the local news you need. When the AMN surge first SWT through California nursing homes enacted more strict testing requirements for visitors, but that happened at about the same time that California also started allowing COVID positive nurses who weren showing any symptoms to keep coming into work. And that has many nursing home visitors feeling confused and frustrated. Kcrws Kayley Wells dug into why it's so hard to visit long-term care facilities these days and what that's doing to people living inside them. As recently

Speaker 2: (02:42)

As last year, me east Vegas saw her brother Manny all the time. He has a tracheostomy, so he can't speak, but she knows. He recognizes her. She'd brush his teeth, do physical therapy with him and use the community room for parties like this one here with

Speaker 3: (02:58)

My brother, super happy. Come see him Friday again, getting my vaccine. Is she so I could hug him.

Speaker 2: (03:07)

Now her visits sound more like this. So I

Speaker 3: (03:10)

Don't know if maybe we could move the camera a little bit,

Speaker 2: (03:13)

Like which way, whatever. Since the Omicron variant caused COVID cases to spike Hollywood, pres and medical center paused those up close and personal visits. Most days it doesn't feel worth it. So she does virtual visits instead, because now if Vega wants to see her brother in person, it's through Plexiglas with walkie talkies,

Speaker 4: (03:32)

It seems like when you visit someone in prison, there's like that big window. And then there's like huge distance

Speaker 2: (03:37)

To even get to the Plexiglas or, or any kind of in person visit at a long term care facility in California, you need to show proof of a negative COVID test, either a rapid test from the past 24 hours or a PCR test from the past 48 hours. But anyone who's taken a COVID test recently knows that's harder than it sounds. Home test

Speaker 5: (03:56)

Are very hard to come by. I mean, everybody's pretty much out of them

Speaker 2: (04:00)

Before the pandemic. Sonya Anastasio visited her husband every day after he suffered a severe stroke, nearly six years ago. Now she's struggling to see him at fountain view subacute and nursing center in east Hollywood, where he lives. Even

Speaker 5: (04:13)

If we get an appointment, just getting the results back, uh, they give us 48 hours for a PCR test. And sometimes we're getting it back within maybe 48 to 72 hours, which is senseless. The

Speaker 2: (04:25)

Facility told me in a statement that they're following state regulations. So while Anastasio struggles to prove it's safe to let her inside asymptomatic healthcare providers are allowed to show up for work, regardless of whether they're infected. I

Speaker 5: (04:38)

Strongly believe that it's so wrong. They go out. They, you know, they're doing exactly the same thing as I'm doing. Why are they making us get tested every single time

Speaker 6: (04:49)

It's called dealing with reality.

Speaker 2: (04:52)

Here's governor Gavin Newsom defending the move last month,

Speaker 6: (04:54)

The pragmatism, not what you want, but what you need to do at a time of challenge and

Speaker 2: (05:00)

Scarcity. Meanwhile, the vigorous testing protocols for visitors are exposing some patients to another risk that can have equally deadly consequences, long term isolation. Tony Chico tell is an attorney with California advocates for nursing home reform visitors

Speaker 7: (05:17)

Provide, uh, connection to the outside world and engagement with the community, help people avoid depression. All those things

Speaker 2: (05:26)

Loneliness doesn't get listed on a death certificate, of course, but a group of researchers out of Chicago found two thirds of the residents. They surveyed lost weight in the first year of the pandemic. Chico tells, seen that too, and it's not a good sign. You

Speaker 7: (05:40)

Know, through experience. I find that weight is often a proxy for health. And when the weight starts to slip, the health starts to deteriorate and people get sick

Speaker 2: (05:49)

And die. Vegas says her brother has lost weight and she's seen his dental hygiene get worse. Hollywood Presbyterian said patient care has not been impacted by the pandemic. Anastasio says her husband isn't the same either fountain view. Wouldn't comment about Anastasia's claim, citing privacy concerns. I

Speaker 5: (06:07)

Did, you know, his grooming every day. I oral care every day. They didn't have to do any of that. I did physical therapy for him now, you know, he's a little stiff for it's detrimental. My husband has deteriorated a lot. Um, he's not

Speaker 2: (06:22)

The same. In the meantime, local health officials say we've seen the peak of the current surge. The hope is that waiting case rates will come with more in-person visits and better days for patients ahead. I'm Kayley Wells in Los Angeles.

Speaker 1: (06:44)

An investigation is underway into the death of a Navy seal candidate and another who is hospitalized after completing their hell week training KPBS, military reporter, Steve Walsh has more

Speaker 8: (06:57)

To 24 year old. Kyle Mullins of New Jersey was a football star in high school later making all Ivy leagues. Second team. When he played for Yale Mullins died Friday evening. Another unnamed seal candidate remains hospitalized. The two had just completed the grueling hell week, Pentagon spokesman, John Kirby. The

Speaker 9: (07:16)

Secretary wants to make sure that he was the, the Navy, the time to look at this carefully and thoughtfully before coming down, any kind of conclusions, we just don't know. We just don't

Speaker 8: (07:26)

Know what happened here. Mullins is not the first death at sealed basic training. In 2016, James Loveless drowned during a pool exercise. The medical examiner ruled his death. A homicide after videotape showed an instructor, dunking him charges were never brought another candidate committed suicide after failing hell week, Steve Walsh, KPBS news,

Speaker 1: (07:51)

The city of Tijuana on Sunday, evicted hundreds of migrants living in a makeshift camp, just south of the us border. As many as 2000 people lived in the camp. At one point, many of them were asylum seekers, K PBS border reporter. Gustavo Soli has more.

Speaker 10: (08:09)

The mass eviction began 4:00 AM Sunday morning in a matter of hours, Tijuana police officers and soldiers from Mexico's national guard cleared the migrant camp that sits just across the border from the San any seed report of entry. By the end of the day, a tent city that had been home to thousands of asylum seekers was back to being an empty pedestrian Plaza. The only hints of the people who occupied this space was a single basketball and a heart. Someone had painted on a nearby tree. The city gave no notice of its planned operation migrants simply woke up to soldiers and officers telling them they had 30 minutes to pack up and leave. They kicked us out by force. One migrant says like we're trash. They treat us worse than animals. Another migrant says the city treated them like they're criminals. He says, you'd think they were arresting El Chapo with how many cops they brought in all this.

Speaker 10: (09:00)

Despite prior assurances by Tiana mayor, that her administration would never remove migrants by force K PBS asked mayor Ramirez about the camp last November. At the time she said she had no plans to shut it down and refused to say when it, my clothes. However, she did acknowledge feeling pressure from the United States to clear the camp because it blocked a pedestrian crossing, giving us a fixed date. She said would eliminate the voluntary nature of the process. City officials say that camp had become a public health hazard and that migrants were offered space in nearby shelters. The migrants Andrea advocate has condemned the government for using so much force to evict vulnerable women and children, Gina GVO with American friend service committee. She says using the military for this eviction fuels anti-immigrant xenophobia and Tijuana and perpetuates. The idea that people in the camp are criminals. ES says evicting, the migrants only pushes them out of the public view. It won't do anything to actually improve their condition. Gusta. K PBS means

Speaker 1: (10:08)

The city of San Diego is considering a new law to regulate street vendors. K PBS speaks city Heights, reporter Jacob air. It explains the proposal and why immigration advocates are worried.

Speaker 11: (10:20)

San Diego's proposal would set new limits on street vendors from where they can operate to the months. They can do business and includes limits to street vending in some communities during summer months in year round in certain parts of popular tourist areas like the gas lamp quarter, dual cigar is the executive director of the nonprofit organization border angels. She says many immigrant families survived the pandemic by turning to street vending. So

Speaker 5: (10:46)

For us, this is an issue that we know disproportionately impacts black and brown communities, and even more vulnerable within that sec, subsection is our undocumented community. So, so for us street bending is a matter of economic equality, uh, of equity for these people.

Speaker 11: (11:03)

Gloria Robles is a street vendor who works in city Heights. She's lived in San Diego for over two decades, but turned to street bending in 2019. She's says on Saturdays and Sundays, we go to the farmer's market to recover a little money because the pandemic has affected it a lot. So we want to continue where we can while some brick and mortar merchants are concerned about the proliferation of street vendors. Garcia says they have a different clientele. And she says the language being used to justify the removal of street vendors. It,

Speaker 5: (11:39)

Uh, we hear that they're afraid of the competition. Um, but the, the people that go to these very expensive restaurants are not the same people that are buying from the hotdog stands from the tamales lady. So it's a different market. It really is in competition.

Speaker 11: (11:59)

The proposed legislation will be discussed on Wednesday by the city council's economic development committee. If approved, it will go before the full council on March 1st, Jacob bear, K PBS news

Speaker 1: (12:14)

Coming up tech is changing how people shop for just about everything. Plus federal grant money for students struggling to pay tuition at Southwestern college, we have those stories and more just after the break Technology G has dramatically changed retail shopping in the us and it's changing grocery stores as well in San Diego based Excel. Robotics is making the shopping experience a lot different K P S science and technology reporter. Thomas fudge has more

Speaker 12: (13:13)

On the ground floor of the vantage point apartment building in downtown San Diego. There's a small grocery store, but it's missing something. There's no cash register, no cashier, no bank of self checkout machines, just groceries sitting on shelves, but co-founder and chief technology officer of Excel, robotics Marus we bought says the company's valet market has

Speaker 13: (13:37)

A system. We use technology to figure out who took what out of the store. So it's a autonomous store in that, the sense that you walk in, you take what you want and you walk out and we rely on a suite of sensors, somewhere in the ceiling, somewhere in the shelves to figure out what you walked out with.

Speaker 12: (13:53)

Before you can enter Vale market, you need to get through a turns style by flashing your store app over a sensor inside the store. There are cameras everywhere, watching what you pick up and what you put down a big computer screen in a back room shows a moving diagram of who has what and how many items they're carrying. So

Speaker 13: (14:12)

There's really two things we're tracking. We're tracking the moon of people, and then we're moving a product.

Speaker 12: (14:16)

The computer doesn't know the customer's name. They're just called person 1 39 or something like that for the customer Buba says using the store is kind of like using a self-service gas pump.

Speaker 13: (14:28)

Uh, before we let you in the store, we collect your payment credentials. And then after you leave the store, we charge you for what you took from the store.

Speaker 12: (14:36)

The other aspect of the store is the delivery service for a vantage point apartments. As I lingered in the store, yes. Before dinnertime, two young men kept walking in and out of the place with bags of food as they headed to the elevators on their way to one of the 679 living units, because

Speaker 14: (14:53)

We don't have to use the labor to sit behind a cashier's desk. The whole time that same labor can be reused for the delivery service that we offer

Speaker 12: (15:00)

Jeff Herman VP for product with Excel, robotics calls it the world's fastest delivery system. And

Speaker 14: (15:07)

So in four or five minutes, they want a coffee and banana use. In the morning, we run that up to their, to their room for free for them.

Speaker 12: (15:13)

The commercial strategy of valley market is to serve a dense population with a limited number of essential grocery products. People don't drive to this market and there's no parking lot. Their research shows close to 90% of the residents in vantage point apartments use the market. One of the, as people is Cameron Thomas, the

Speaker 15: (15:33)

Simplicity of just having it ride downstairs for us. Um, grocery stores are a little bit further away. So for some of just the normal household goods, it's pretty, pretty easy to come down and comparable and priced to a lot of the grocery stores in the

Speaker 12: (15:45)

Area. And all you need is your phone. So it's okay. If you forgot your wallet, building resident and Antoinette who didn't share her last name said, the inventory may be limited, but she thinks the company made a lot of good choices. Everything

Speaker 16: (15:59)

That we normally buy is here. Everything like Dave's bread. Yeah, everything Dave's bread. The type of cheese. We like the type of cheese spaghetti. It's all here. It's like they asked us pre you know, what do you want in

Speaker 12: (16:14)

Valet? The company says the technology they use at valet market is patented. The service is a trend in retail. Amazon runs similar cashless operations with its Amazon go stores. And this trend has gotten the attention of the United food and commercial workers union local 1 35 in San Diego, local president Todd Walter says, you don't just need computers working a grocery store. You need people too.

Speaker 17: (16:41)

Those folks know that product. They know what it is. They know what's right. You start getting into computers and technology and that's fine. You know, you might save a buck, but at the end of the day, there's so many things that a computer's not can. I do

Speaker 12: (16:54)

Excel. Robotics has plans for opening more stores in San Diego for now vantage point residents and anyone else who downloads the app will keep using valley market and shopper. Ali Perry says the place has become a bit of a tourist attraction.

Speaker 16: (17:09)

It's the first thing I show my parents or any of my friends that come

Speaker 12: (17:12)

Into town. Thomas fudge K PBS news

Speaker 1: (17:18)

Southwestern college is offering federal grant money for students who are struggling to pay tuition and expenses. K PBS education reporter mg Perez has more on the effort to improve enrollment on the colleges. South bay campuses

Speaker 18: (17:34)

Eligible students can apply for up to $2,500 in grant money to pay tuition and expenses not covered by financial aid. The grants are funded by federal COVID relief to help students deal with the consequences of the pandemic, like a lost job or the death of a relative. Kevin Stevens is a student on the Southwestern college main campus in Chula

Speaker 19: (17:55)

Vista. It's very nice to know that you have a lot of a financial burden lifted off your hands. Especially if you're someone who pays rent or just doing a part-time job, you know, are not making enough money to support yourself. Students

Speaker 18: (18:05)

Have to apply for the grant money and be currently in rolled in the spring semester. The first disbursements will be made starting on Valentine's day mg Perez, KPBS news,

Speaker 1: (18:19)

The old globe theater just opened a production of Alice Childress play trouble in mind, it's set in New York in 1957, it revolves around a leading black actress and a diverse cast who are rehearsing a play written by a white playwright. The Alicia Turner Sonenberg is a resident artist at the old globe and the director of trouble in mind. She and actor playwright, BB mama joined K PBS midday edition host Jade Henman to talk about the show here's that interview.

Speaker 20: (18:51)

So this work is a play within a play. Our characters are taking part in a play written by a white playwright put on by a white director, but it features a multiracial cast. And it's an anti-lynching story Delicia. What are some of the conflicts that this play brings forward?

Speaker 21: (19:10)

This play examines, uh, uses the play within a play format to examine stereotypes and race and the limits of understanding between a white producing team and, and black performers as they begin rehearsal. Um, and who gets to this, this idea, and this is important to me as a director or as an artist in general of who's the final word on somebody else's story, right? I mean, they're telling, um, uh, an anti-lynching story with a white playwright and when a black actor asks questions about that story or the truths in that story, her questions get dismissed. Yeah.

Speaker 20: (20:03)

And Alice Childres wrote this script nearly 67 years ago. Delicia, what can you tell us about the history of this play? I mean, do we have a sense today about how it was received by theaters and audiences?

Speaker 21: (20:16)

Well, in 55 it appeared off Broadway and then it was gonna be on Broadway. And Al's, Childres went through two years of rewrites because the producers loved the play, the Broadway producers, but they wanted her to change the end ending. Um, and so she changed the ending, but then she changed it back. And so ultimately it didn't make it to Broadway.

Speaker 20: (20:40)

Hmm. So let's get to know some of these characters. Um, we have will mayor the main character and the lead in the play within a play, uh, performed by Ramona Keller and then Millie Davis. Who's a younger actress in the production performed by BB mama. Uh, BB, tell us, uh, a little bit about your character and what's on the line for her in this story.

Speaker 4: (21:03)

Well, that's a great question. Millie is bright and fun and charismatic and, um, I think is really excited to be performing on Broadway and performing, um, this show with these people and is also aware of the stereotypes that are present, not only in this play, but in, in the work that she's done in the past and sort of just takes it on the chin, you know, is happy to be working, happy to be in the room. However, when starts to, uh, bring voice to some of, um, the problems that, uh, arise when they start working with the script, I think Millie, um, her eyes are, are open and she really starts to, you know, support and, and understand that, you know, what, what is on the line, however, that con that conflicts with her desire to like do the job and be employed and pay the bills. So it's a really interesting conflict.

Speaker 20: (22:11)

Hmm. Do you recognize any parts of your own acting journey in Millie's story?

Speaker 4: (22:16)

Ooh, uh, I think so. I think so. Um, I've definitely, uh, Millie is really cool cuz she, she speaks her mind. Um, and there, there have been been times where I've found myself questioning, uh, the work I was doing or like the way we were doing the work and having to, you know, find the balance between how much do you say? Um, but also like how much do you, uh, hold your tongue in order to preserve relationships or, or the work that you're doing? Mm. So yeah, definitely.

Speaker 20: (22:57)

Hmm. And BB, you know, the theater saw a tremendous reckoning over the last few years about race and diversity. Um, but did real change happen? I mean 67 years, uh, later. Um, is this still something that clouds the American theater?

Speaker 4: (23:15)

I, I think so. Absolutely. When I read trouble in mind, it was painfully clear. We need to hear this story now. Um, and I think it says a lot that almost 67 years later, the con conflicts in this, this play are conflicts that we are still dealing with today. And

Speaker 1: (23:36)

That was actor Bibi Mama, along with director Delicia Turner. Sonenberg speaking with K PBS midday edition host Jade Henman trouble in mine, runs through March 13th at the old globe theater. And that's it for the podcast today as always, you can find more San Diego news I'm Anica Colbert. Thanks for listening and have a great day.

Visitors are left frustrated by California’s rules to allow asymptomatic COVID-positive nurses to return to work at the state’s nursing homes. Meanwhile, a migrant camp on the Tijuana side of the border was cleared out on Sunday. And, technology has changed how we shop, from retail to grocery shopping.