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Protesting vaccine mandates in school

Good Morning, I’m Annica Colbert….it’s Tuesday, October 19th

A “sit-out” protest

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

San Diego Mayor Todd Gloria, Governor Gavin Newsom, and Caltrans officials announced a new outreach program on monday to help people living in dangerous conditions adjacent to state highways. San Diego’s Homelessness Strategies and Solutions Department will contract directly with a nonprofit called City net that will focus on street level outreach. The partnership is the first of it’s kind collaboration in the state to be dedicated to outreach into homeless encampments along state highways.

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The California Senate’s appropriation committee released a bill on Monday with more than 34 million dollars in federal funding for transportation-related projects across the state. The largest among them is the Coaster Commuter Rail Corridor Stabilization project, to protect the tracks along the Del Mar coast in San Diego. The rail line along the Del Mar bluffs is within feet of the coastline. It sits on delicate cliffs that experience annual erosion and episodic collapses.

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San Diego board of Supervisors Chair Nathan Fletcher wants the county to adopt the regional vote center model outlined in the California Voter’s Choice Act. He’s set to introduce the policy today at the county board meeting. If adopted, it means all San Diegans would receive a vote by mail ballot, and traditional polling locations will be replaced with regional vote centers. Fletcher says vote centers will be open more days, and provide more services to create a more convenient voting experience. If approved today, the new policy would go into effect in 2022.

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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.

Parents across California didn’t send their children to school on Monday as part of a statewide sit out to protest vaccine mandates.

Here in san diego, protestors gathered at balboa park … kpbs’ Kitty Alvarado has that story.

let them choose …

about 200 parents and their children gathered at balboa park to protest vaccine mandates. the protest is part of a statewide grassroots movement organized by moms who spread the word on social media.

kelsey smith has two children who attend a charter school in el cajon. she says she had to be a part of this sit out.

we were immediately in support and i think it’s such a good thing to be able to show our kids that they have rights and stand up for those rights if they feel like they’re being taken away

that was zachary patterson, the student member of the san diego unified school board.

san diego unified and some other districts told kpbs it would be a few days before they know how the sit-out affects them.

but leading up to the protests, some districts sent letters to parents asking them to send their children to class because attendance affects funding.

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Investigations continue into the oil spill off Southern California’s coast earlier this month.

The Coast Guard has named a party of interest in connection to the spill. KPBS reporter Alexandra Rangel has more on the findings.

The Coast Guard says a large container ship was possibly involved in an anchor dragging incident back in January that damaged an underwater pipeline.

The vessel's owners and operators MSC Mediterranean shipping Company have been named persons of interest in the incident.

On Monday a congressional field hearing was held to discuss the impacts the oil spill has had on businesses and wildlife along the coast.

Although the estimated oil spilled is significantly lower than initially reported, Congressman MIke Levin says communities were severely impacted.

“The spille shutdown businesses and oceans down in Dana Point and san clemente. Tar balls that are likely caused by the spill have also been found as far down in my district as oceanside, encinitas, and del mar.”

The coast guard says they’re still looking into multiple scenarios that may have led to the leakage.

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Last winter, a severe covid-19 surge overwhelmed some California hospitals and led to thousands of deaths.

Capradio’s sammy caiola says experts are cautiously optimistic it won’t happen again

Colder weather means more people spending time indoors AND traveling and gathering for the holidays.

But nearly 68% of Californians are now fully or partially vaccinated. And UC Berkeley epidemiologist Dr. Lee Riley says that could make a difference.

“The vaccines can blunt the surges from occurring. And so if you compare the different regions of the U.S., for instance, in California, we have relatively high vaccination coverage and we're seeing the impact of that.”

Vaccinated people can still spread the virus … so if you’re gathering indoors with unvaccinated people, it’s best to wear masks and keep your distance. Opening the windows can also help with air flow.

Experts say the delta variant is subsiding, but it’s possible a new variant could emerge.

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The Pentagon requires all troops to receive a covid vaccine. KPBS military reporter Steve Walsh says as the deadline approaches the navy is adding more incentives.

The Navy requires all active duty troops to be vaccinated for COVID-19 by November 28. Lt. John Barrow is in charge of immunization at the Naval Hospital in San Diego. He says he’s not expecting a rush. “Full Navy, Navy wide it’s 96 percent, 99 percent with one dose. I can speak to the command, here, we’re doing better than the Navy, as a whole, As we should, we’re medicine.” Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin announced in August that all troops and Pentagon employees must be vaccinated for COVID-19. The Navy has announced a policy for discharging sailors who don’t receive an exemption.The Marines have the same Nov. 28 deadline. They say only 79 percent of their troops are fully vaccinated. Steve Walsh KPBS News.

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One of the biggest mysteries of the COVID-19 pandemic has been the phenomenon of “long-covid.” Months after infection, people with lingering COVID symptoms, known as long haulers, have struggled to regain their health. While patients and doctors alike were initially baffled by these long-term symptoms, much has been learned since they were first recorded in patients earlier in the pandemic.

Dr. Lucy Horton is an infectious disease specialist at UCSD who’s seen the toll long COVID can take on the body. She runs a clinic that specializes in post-COVID care. She spoke with Midday Edition Host Jade Hindmon.

Do we know now why some people are afflicted with long COVID as opposed to others?
Speaker 2:
It's really a great question. And I think it's one of the biggest challenges that we're facing is we still don't have a great sense of what predisposes some people to developing long. COVID. What we do know is that people who tend to have more symptoms during their acute infection tend to go on to develop long COVID, but there's so much left to be learned.
Speaker 1:
Um, have you been seeing with your patients? I mean, what kinds of treatments work really?
Speaker 2:
The treatments that work best are those that targets specific symptoms that patients are having. Um, for example, patients who may have developed asthma, like symptoms respond well to asthma medications, patients who have difficulty with their heart rate and blood pressure also known as autonomic dysfunction, they may respond well to medications, specifically targeting that symptom in general, what we think really works best. And what we've seen in our patient cohort is rehabilitation is really kind of the bus, um, that can take the form of pulmonary rehab, physical therapy, even cognitive retraining.
Speaker 1:
Is there any kind of consensus as to what factors lead to long-term COVID symptoms?
Speaker 2:
That is really such a great question. And it's an active area of research right now, the underlying pathophysiology or mechanisms driving along COVID are still unknown, but we do know that people with long COBIT tend to have ongoing abnormalities in some of their immune and inflammatory responses, similar to what may be seen and chronic viral infections. Um, we know that there is what we call endothelial dysfunction or disruption of the barrier of blood vessels, and that probably contributes to many of the symptoms as well. But I think the majority of us think that it's probably multifactorial and that there's many different things at play leading to all of these different symptoms, how
Speaker 1:
Patients emotionally processed having to deal with these symptoms for an extended period of time.
Speaker 2:
It's really challenging. Many of the patients are facing a lot of emotional distress. Many of them have almost PTSD like symptoms because they've really had a traumatic experience dealing with the chronic illness and the way that it's really impacted their lives. So caring for a patient with long COVID, it's really important to understand kind of their psychosocial stressors and offer them, um, that type of therapy and emotional support resources.
Speaker 1:
Is there any sense that long haul COVID symptoms will one day go away
Speaker 2:
Optimistic that the majority of patients will have a meaningful recovery based on what we know of other kind of chronic post viral syndromes from other types of viruses, but in reality, we just don't know for sure. And we know that some patients have had symptoms now for the better part of a year and a half with not a lot of recovery. And so there probably will be some who continue to have symptoms for the rest of their life, but since this is such a new virus, and we've only known it for less than two years, it's really hard to say,
Speaker 1:
Do we know what percentage of patients infected with COVID end up suffering from long-term symptoms?
Speaker 2:
It's roughly 10 to 30%. And it tends to be more in patients who actually had milder COVID, who were not hospitalized, who are not in the ICU.
Speaker 1:
Does vaccination lower the chance of long haul symptoms at all
Speaker 2:
Really wonderful question. And there's some emerging research that vaccination may help prevent long COVID. There was recently a study published in the Lancet journal of infectious diseases, uh, where they were actually looking at, um, how vaccine would prevent, uh, breakthrough infections. But what's interesting is, um, in monitoring the patient cohort, they track them out to a month after their infection. And they did find that those who were fully vaccinated, so had received both doses of the MRNs vaccine, uh, were less likely to still have symptoms after a month. So that's suggestive that the vaccine does in fact help prevent development of long COVID.
Speaker 1:
Okay. Does it have any role in the treatment of long haul COVID
Speaker 2:
This is again something that we're just getting kind of preliminary, um, evidence of now, um, there's some emerging, um, studies coming out, um, showing that, um, those who receive vaccination that had a higher chance of having complete remission of their symptoms about almost twice, that, of those who are unvaccinated,
Speaker 1:
How has our, our understanding of how COVID can affect the body longterm, uh, changed since the beginning of the pandemic,
Speaker 2:
He knows so much more about the, of symptoms. I think, um, we're better able to diagnose it better able to understand who may benefit from specific therapies. Um, we're learning that COVID seems to unmask, um, other conditions. And so we're seeing a lot of our patients now being diagnosed with things like asthma or reflux or apnea. So we're able to, um, look for and ask the right questions to understand, um, the whole range of symptoms that patients are having. Um, and I think we know a lot more too about, um, the role that rehab and therapy can play, um, in this condition. But honestly, I still think we're at the tip of the iceberg in terms of, um, the full knowledge and understanding of long COVID.

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Coming up.... Many teenage military dependents are struggling with their mental health. That’s according to a survey conducted by teenagers themselves.

“I really had a hard time moving away. I really struggled with depression and like had to end up going to a therapist. And was sort of like what is all this suffering for? Why am I being so sad? Like what is the purpose of this?”

More on that next, just after the break.

A new survey of more than two-thousand teenage military dependents shows their mental health is suffering. The survey was done by two teenagers, who also created a group that aims to address feelings of isolation and depression in military kids.

Anne Kniggendorf reports for the American Homefront Project.

KNIGGENDORF: Elena Ashburn is 17 years old and has moved seven times. Along the way, she figured out that music is a huge stress reliever—especially karaoke.

KNIGGENDORF: Now Ashburn lives outside Ft. Lauderdale, and her Army colonel dad is about to retire. All the moving has been really hard, especially after she settled into a high school in Pennsylvania and suddenly had to move to Florida.

ASHBURN: I really had a hard time moving away, I really struggled with depression, and like had to end up going to a therapist and starting to sort things out. It was in that state where I was sort of like, what is all this suffering for? Why am I being so sad? Like, what is the purpose of this, I don't want it to be for nothing.

KNIGGENDORF: She reached out to another musician friend whose family is deployed to South Korea. The two created Bloom, a military teen support organization.

KNIGGENDORF: Matthew Oh is a 17-year-old percussionist and has moved eight times.

KNIGGENDORF: The survey that Bloom did in coordination with the National Military Family Association showed 42% of military teens reported low mental well-being and 45% reported moderate mental well-being. That leaves only 13% reporting they’re doing well.

KNIGGENDORF: Oh says his family’s most recent deployment was especially difficult.

OH: I moved to Korea two years ago, and that was kind of a dark time for me. And I was constantly wallowing in self-pity because of what I had left behind.

KNIGGENDORF: But, he says, as a musician he’s quick to make friends and get involved. He’s doing much better now. He’s also the student body president at his high school on a U.S. installation in South Korea and keeps an eye on other students.

OH: If you have students coming in who don't feel welcome, who don't feel like they're being taken care of, you have a very negative environment.

KNIGGENDORF: Colorado Springs-based family therapist Lisa Collingridge saw exactly that.

She got into the field of mental health five years ago after noticing a gap in services for her children, who are military teens themselves. Her family has moved seven times with her husband’s military career.

COLLINGRIDGE: It's emotional dysregulation that they don't know how to manage, and they don't have anyone that they're connected with, that they can plug in with to help them navigate those feelings.

KNIGGENDORF: She says that instability creates risk factors that can lead to a mental health diagnosis. That’s bad for the kids and also the future of the armed forces. Sixty-five percent of those surveyed said they intend to serve, compared to 14% of their peers in civilian families.

COLLINGRIDGE: If we eliminate those kids, because they've gone through mental health problems that were a result of military lifestyle, what type of messages are we sending? 3-4

KNIGGENDORF: The Department of Defense does have some mental health programs for military dependents, but Collingridge says they’re not enough. As for what the general population can do…

COLLINGRIDGE: Invite them to participate in the community. We love to say military kids are resilient, and they are but I don't want them to have to be resilient. I want them to be taken care of.

KNIGGENDORF: In addition to starting Bloom, the nonprofit for connecting military teens, Ashburn and Oh have also written and recorded a song about how it feels to move so often. It’s called “Uprooted” and compares constant deployments to a monster uprooting a tree.

KNIGGENDORF: Oh and Ashburn use Bloom to create a sense of community through the web and social media platforms like TikTok and Instagram. Ashburn says they’re trying to take the stresses and sad parts of military life and help them bloom into something prettier.

This story was produced by the American Homefront Project, a public media collaboration that reports on American military life and veterans. Funding comes from the Corporation for Public Broadcasting

That’s it for the podcast today. Be sure to catch KPBS Midday Edition At Noon on KPBS radio, or check out the Midday podcast. You can also watch KPBS Evening Edition at 5 O’clock on KPBS Television, and as always you can find more San Diego news online at KPBS dot org. I’m Annica Colbert. Thanks for listening and have a great day.

More than a thousand people crowded the front steps of the California Capitol on Monday to protest the state’s requirement that all children get the coronavirus vaccine to attend public and private schools. In San Diego, protestors gathered at Balboa park. Meanwhile, enough people are vaccinated that experts are cautiously optimistic that there won’t be a huge surge in COVID-19 cases and deaths this winter. Plus, the results of a new survey says teenage military dependent’s mental health is suffering.