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Public Pool Closures

 September 21, 2021 at 5:10 AM PDT

Good Morning, I’m Annica Colbert….it’s Tuesday, September 21st. >>>> It’s hot, but there’s not too many places for kids to swim in San Diego More on that next, But first... let’s do the headlines…. ###### An FDA advisory committee says booster shots are not needed for all Americans -- at least not yet. Dr. Francesca Torriani is an infectious disease expert at UC San Diego health.. She says the FDA panel did recommend Pfizer booster doses for those over 65, people with underlying medical conditions and those working in high risk settings like health care. She says there’s a specific reason boosters are being recommended for those over 65– the ability to produce neutralizing antibodies when we’re older and that we’ve seen with the influenza and other vaccines is not as good Currently federal regulators are just looking at a booster approval for the pfizer vaccine. ……….. Additionally, Pfizer announced on Monday that its covid-19 vaccine clinical trials showed it’s safe for children ages 5-to-11. Dr. Stephen Spector is with UC-San Diego health pediatric. “based on the adult data and data in children who are older than 12...we will expect there will be very few adverse effects over a prolonged period of time.” pfizer plans to submit its clinical trial testing data to the FDA for “emergency approval” which could come by the end of october. ######## A heat advisory has been issued for the San Bernardino, Riverside, and San Diego County valleys. That includes the cities of Escondido, El Cajon, San Marcos, La Mesa, Santee, and Poway. Temperatures today are expected upwards of 105 in some areas. The heat advisory will stay in effect through tomorrow night. ######### From KPBS, you’re listening to San Diego News Now. Stay with me for more of the local news you need. It’s hot, and it continues to be hot in San Diego this September. But for families hoping to cool off at one of the city’s 13 public pools...they’re out of luck. KPBS investigative reporter Claire Trageser found that the city has drastically cut back its weekend pool hours . “Do you want to do backwards or forwards? Wow, good kicking!” Sharon Risoer and her three-year-old daughter Clara are practicing their swimming at a public pool in Tierrasanta. It’s past 5 o'clock on a Friday, and Clara’s lips are turning a little’s late in the day for swimming, but they’re fitting it in when they can. That’s because this pool is not open on weekends. Sharon Risoer San Diego Parent “Saturday swimming would be great because it's difficult with work schedules and a full schedule to make it to pool sessions that are during the day.” But across the city, there are hardly any weekend pool hours where kids can swim. And that’s a big cutback from previous years. City Pools Cut Back Hours September 2019: 12 pools with recreational swim hours 50 recreational swim hours on weekends The city of San Diego has 13 public pools. In September 2019, all but one of them had weekend recreational swim hours. In total across all city pools, there were 50 hours when kids could swim on the weekends. 3 pools with recreational swim hours 12.5 recreational swim hours on weekends Source: KPBS analysis of city swim schedules Pools were mostly closed last summer due to COVID. Now, this September, there are just three city pools with recreational swim Clairemont, La Jolla, and San Ysidro. Each pool is open for two and a half to five hours total each weekend. Scott Polach San Diego Parent “I was planning to go to that pool on Saturday, and I thought as I was pulling out, I should call and see if it was open.” Scott Polach recently brought his four-year-old son Felix to the city pool in Tierrasanta on a Saturday...the website said it was open, but it wasn’t. “There is a level of frustration with it not being open, but more so there's a frustration around the level and lack of communication” The pool had switched from its summer hours to fall hours, but hadn’t changed the website. Many of the city’s public pools ended their weekend hours after Labor Day. That despite the fact that September is usually one of the hottest months in San Diego, with higher average temperatures than in June or July. And in previous years, city pools stayed open on weekends in September. “It’s very important for children to be physically active.” Noe Crespo is a public health professor at San Diego State University. He says children of color and children in lower income neighborhoods are less likely to know how to swim, and less likely to be physically active overall. “It's an unfortunate scenario that depending on where a child lives then that will determine if they have access to a pool they have access to sports.” He says exercise helps kids physically, but also improves their mental health and performance in school. And that cities should be responsible for providing those facilities to their residents. “Cities are responsible to provide the resources in different locations and to look at also equity, to understand and look at what facilities are mostly used by different groups, including, for example, older adults and children, and to create opportunities so that the community members can have access to those facilities. A spokesperson for the city of San Diego wouldn’t do an interview about the change in pool hours. But he sent an email saying the change is because the city is short staffed. “This is actually a nationwide issue not only with pools and lifeguards but with many businesses that utilize young workers to provide services to their customers. The reality is without the aquatics staff to provide programming and pool guard duties it’s not possible to keep the facilities as open as long as we’d like and provide a safe environment for the public.” --Tim Graham, city of San Diego spokesperson The city pays pool lifeguards 15 to 17 dollars an hour. To staff weekend pools at previous levels would cost less than $10,000 a year, according to the most recent city budget. “Good swimming!” Sharon Risoer , the Tierrasanta resident, is also thinking about costs. Since she can’t go to her local city pool on the weekends, she’s left with buying day passes at private pools, which could cost $60 for her family of four, or joining the YMCA. “It’s expensive, whereas the city pools, they’re fun and they’ve got great facilities.” Her daughter Clara would especially like to use the splash pad at the Tierrasanta pool...but it’s only open on Tuesdays and Thursdays from noon to 3--when Clara is in school. Claire Trageser, KPBS News That was KPBS investigative reporter Claire Traegeser. KPBS reporters John Carroll and KPBS investigative assistant Katy Stegall contributed to this story. ########## The US has once again extended it’s non-essential ground travel restrictions with Canada and Mexico. KPBS’ Alexandra Rangel has more on the impacts border restrictions have had in San Ysidro. White House COVID-19 response coordinator Jeff Zients says border restrictions with Canada and Mexico will extend through October 21-st. The restrictions were first placed in March of last year and since then it’s been a series of monthly extensions. Carlos Guerrero is the store owner of Elite Tactical in San Ysidro. He says business is slow. “Since the pandemic and the border is closed there’s not been a lot of movement but luckily they do have a lot of friends that come shop for them now.” The San Ysidro Chamber of Commerce says since the restrictions started in March 20-20, about 270 businesses have closed their doors for good. ########## The nation's oldest living park ranger is getting a northern California school named after her for her 100th birthday. From California Hub member station KALW, Ben Trefny has more. TREFNY: Betty Reid Soskin is a ranger at the Rosie the Riveter World War Two Home Front National Historical Park in Richmond. She’s being honored by the West Contra Costa Unified School District, which is renaming Juan Crespi Middle School in El Sobrante as Betty Reid Soskin Middle School. Soskin founded Reid's Records in Berkeley with her former husband Mel Reid. She was active in the Civil Rights Movement and later worked for state assembly members. She was also part of the planning and development of the park, where she still works as a tour guide. The district charged a committee with finding a new title for the school named after an 18th century Franciscan missionary. They considered Chochenyo Middle School, to honor an Ohlone tribe that originally inhabited West Contra Costa County. But they chose Soskin, and will honor her the day she turns 100 years old. The naming ceremony will be broadcast on Facebook Live at 9:30 the morning of Wednesday, September 22, @westcontracostaschools. Happy birthday, Betty Reid Soskin! ########## Coming up.... With extended families in Afghanistan, those living in this country with special immigrant visas are left in a terrible limbo. They are working to ensure their family is safe from the ever threatening Taliban while protecting themselves in America. “We don't have anything in hand for my brother, from the Americans. So he really scared from the taliban. And he left his own province and hide himself with his family in another province.” More on that next, just after the break. In the years before American troops left Afghanistan, tens of thousands of Afghans were admitted into the U.S. In many cases, their lives were in danger because they helped the U.S. military. Now, some are trying to get their family members out of Afghanistan, but it's not clear how they can do that. From San Antonio, Carson Frame reports for the American Homefront Project. Many Afghans who aided U.S. troops now find themselves in a terrible limbo. They’ve made it to America on special immigrant visas, but their extended families are still in Afghanistan— with no real way to escape. KHYBER: We don't have anything in hand for my brother from the Americans... He’s really scared from the Taliban. He left his own province and hide himself with his family in another province. That’s Khyber, an Afghan man who’s lived in San Antonio since 2017. He worked as a reporter and translator for a NATO-led security mission that trained Afghan forces. He asked to go by his first name because his loved ones are under threat from the Taliban. KHYBER: One day or one night, the Taliban will come in, knock on the door...and they will ask about my brother, and they will...maybe they will kill him. From the US, Khyber has tried just about everything to evacuate his family. He submitted their names to members of Congress and worked sources on the ground in Afghanistan. He says he may soon consult with an immigration attorney to petition the State Department. But he doesn’t hold out much hope. KHYBER: Whatever I could do, I did it...I can’t see any chance for him, for my brother or for my other family. But if something happens, that will be a miracle The Center for Refugee Services in San Antonio has been helping Khyber — and other Afghans — navigate the uncertainty. Until a few weeks ago, the agency collected names of vulnerable Afghans and forwarded them to Washington. The center's director Margaret Costantino, stood outside in the heat, helping a crowd of Afghan men compile their lists. NAT / COSTANTINO: Do you want me to help you write? Man: Yes. Thank you so much. CONSTANTINO: You don’t write? You don’t know how to write? Let me get a pen. But that's no longer happening. The agency’s approach changed after the US withdrawal. Costantino now refers Afghans to immigration attorneys. She says she’s been told that Afghans living in the US need to apply for humanitarian parole on behalf of their vulnerable family members. COSTANTINO: I’m optimistic, but I'm scared, because it all hinges on whether or not people can get out of the country safely...nobody knows what the Taliban will agree to. Immigration attorneys are facing long odds. The American embassy in Kabul has shut down, the borders are closed and Afghanistan’s infrastructure is crippled. It’s hard to get documents into the right hands. There are three apparent options for stranded Afghans. They can apply for humanitarian parole from the US, get an e-visa for another country, or apply for refugee status in a third country. Farheen Siddiqi is a managing attorney at RAICES - a refugee resettlement agency. She says even if their paperwork is in order, would-be evacuees still have no guarantee they can get out. SIDDIQI: the... difficult thing is who is manning the airport? And how do we ensure that it's actually safe, they're identifying themselves, they're basically admitting that they're fleeing Taliban rule, right. So the security measures are just in flux there. Khyber hopes America won’t forget about stranded Afghans during this critical time. KHYBER: my message would be... think about the Afghans, and don't leave, don't leave them alone. So like, do whatever you, you can do for them, and try to walk with them, bring them back here to the united states... so their life will be safe here. He says he wants that safe life for his brother, and will keep pushing for it—even though things look bleak. I’m Carson Frame in San Antonio. That was Carson Frame reporting from San Antonio. 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.

Blaming a staffing shortage, the city of San Diego has slashed September weekend public pool hours. Meanwhile, the border remains closed -- the US has once again extended it’s non-essential ground travel restrictions with Canada and Mexico. Plus, with extended families in Afghanistan, those living in this country with special immigrant visas are left in a terrible limbo.