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Record numbers of COVID-19 cases

 December 31, 2021 at 5:00 AM PST

Good Morning, I’m Annica Colbert….it’s Friday, December 31st>>>>

Keeping new year's celebrations small

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

San Diego county public health officials reported more than 5900 covid-19 cases on thursday, marking a dramatic surge in cases. Public health officials are now urging people not to hold or go to large new years celebrations. The number of county residents hospitalized with COVID-19 increased from Wednesday's numbers by 48 to 475 — that’s according to state data. The county recorded 11 deaths related to covid-19 on wednesday.


The California Highway patrol says it’ll be conducting a “maximum enforcement period” over the new years weekend, looking for drunk or drugged drivers. The extra patrols begin at 6pm Friday through midnight on sunday. According to CHP, 56 people were killed in crashes in California during last year’s new years weekend–and half of those killed were not wearing seat belts.


The San Diego Zoo Wildlife Alliance is returning to the Rose Parade in Pasadena for the first time in more than 20 years. Wildlife ambassador Marco Wendt says the organization’s float features three iconic animals, a rhino, a condor and a lion. He says it highlights the positive impact of the Alliance’s conservation work with endangered species..

“Podemos mover montañas,” together we can move mountains and that’s really what it is, especially with what’s been going on the past couple of years. This is sort of like a ray of hope I think for all communities that we can do something.”

From KPBS, you’re listening to San Diego News Now.Stay with me for more of the local news you need.

San Diego is about to ring in the new year, but with COVID-19 cases rising, county health officials are now asking people to avoid large parties and limit celebrations to friends and family..

Yet… Parties are still planned across the county. KPBS Health Reporter Matt Hoffman has more on what’s going on and how people can take precautions.

While downtown is pretty quiet right now, Friday night there are at least a couple dozen planned New Years eve parties in the gaslamp--

Michael Trimble, Gaslamp Quarter Association

New years has always been a real big night in the gaslamp quarter and I would just say to everyone coming down, have fun and be safe

Michael Trimble is executive director of the Gaslamp Quarter Association.. He says some parties will be indoors while others are outside on rooftops--


Everyone really had to take it slow last year and so but this year is a whole new story. We’ve learned a lot since march of 2020 and we’ve gotten a lot smarter and we’ve gotten a lot smarter as a community than we have been

Some parties are asking people to sign up ahead of time.. That’s where you can find out if there are any additional requirements like proof of vaccination. There is currently a state mandate for masks to be worn inside..


I hope people use precaution and the peak isn’t as bad as we’re anticipating

Dr. Shira Abeles is an infectious disease specialist at UC- San Diego Health.. Similar to advice from federal officials, she says large indoor parties will be a risk, especially with the more contagious Omicron variant.

Dr. Shira Abeles, UC San Diego Health Infectious Diseases

So i think there’s the personal risk and that’s high because there’s a lot of covid out there and being indoors without a mask at a party they are going to be super spreader events--

She says there can be so many consequences if people don’t take precautions -- hospitals are planning out how to deal with an expected surge in January, which could result in cutting back on other procedures and surgeries.


I know people don't want to think about it but that’s what we’re thinking about and having to plan for. We’re thinking about how are we going to ration health care when everyone else is thinking about going to parties

Abeles says outdoor parties will be much lower risk.. she suggests if people are having parties inside to open windows and doors for ventilation. Keeping parties small would also be good and having people mask up is key.. She says if you’re feeling sick, avoid any New Years parties.


It can be a sniffle, it could be oh I think im tired and so if you are feeling like that you should not go out

For those looking to get tested after new years parties, Abeles says it can take up to five days after initial exposure for a person to come back positive. MH KPBS News.


Trash truck drivers for Republic Services are still on strike. Now the city of San Diego wants residents with trash piling up to contact the company directly to ask for pick up.

KPBS reporter Alexandra Rangel has more from the sanitation workers on strike.

Michael Bernardo , Republic Services Driver

“We went through the holiday season striking.”

Rain or shine Republic Services sanitation workers continue striking for what they say is a fair contract.

Michael Bernardo, a driver with the company for 8 years, says he just wants to get back to work.

They’ve been on strike for two weeks.

Michael Bernardo , Republic Services Driver

“We’re hoping for something positive at this point. We just want to get back to work, we want to service our communities and clean up the area.”

As days of mediation go nowhere, the more than 200 striking sanitation workers are feeling more and more undervalued.

Michael Bernardo , Republic Services Driver

“We were heroes when the pandemic was in full force and now that it’s time to negotiate our contract it almost feels like we’re zeroes.”

Jose Martinez worked for the company for 40 years.

He’s now retired, but he continues to march along with his friends. He says they deserve more.

Jose Martinez, Republic Services Retiree

“It's always been the same. They try to pay less, pay less, I’ve passed through so many contracts and this is getting worse with everybody.”

Negotiations aren't going well. So says Robert Moreno, a trustee with the drivers’ union Teamsters Local 542.

Robert Moreno, Teamsters Local 542 Trustee

“These guys have been out here for 14 days. I mean if they were negotiating these guys would be back to work already, but they’re not.”

Moreno says they’re not accepting anything less than what they know they deserve.

Robert Moreno, Teamsters Local 542 Trustee

“If that’s the case we’ll be here as long as we need to be.”

Republic Services told KPBS they are continuing mediation this week, but that drivers’ demands for wage increases are not realistic.

Meanwhile, San Diego Mayor Todd Gloria is showing support for those on strike—walking the picket line with them.

He’s encouraging residents who have missed trash pickups to contact Republic Services directly and request collection service. Alexandra Rangel, KPBS News.


A Navy ship on route to San Diego has reported a COVID-19 outbreak.

KPBS Military Reporter Steve Walshays it’s the second outbreak this month for the Navy.

Roughly one third of 300 crew members on board the USS Halsey tested positive for COVID-19. The outbreak was discovered December 10, just as the destroyer was set to change home port from Hawaii to San Diego. All of the crew members who tested positive showed no symptoms or mild symptoms. No one was sent to the emergency room or was hospitalized. All of the affected crew members were on board the Halsey when it left Hawaii for San Diego Sunday, according to a Navy spokesman.

99 percent of the crew were vaccinated before the outbreak was discovered. All of the crew was vaccinated when they left. They were also offered boosters, which are so far not required by the Navy.

A similar outbreak has also sidelined the USS Milwaukee, which has been diverted to Guantanamo Bay. Steve Walsh KPBS News


At The Cabrillo Monument in Point Loma, holiday visitors seeking safe outings are treated to environmental programs led by teenage scientists on Thursdays.

KPBS Education Reporter M.G. Perez has more.

Most Thursdays this past fall and early winter, a trio of teenage girls with a love for the environment have led a bird watching walk at Cabrillo National Monument. They are apprentices who created the nature tour with mentoring from park rangers. Samantha Wynns is the educator who supports them.

“I like to remind kids that there is a place for them in nature and that nature is filled with wonder and everything in nature happens for a reason.

Come late January and early spring, the young apprentices will turn their attention from birds to gray whales beginning their migrations off the coast of San Diego. They will lead visitors in a whale watching program they design. MGP KPBS News.


Coming up.... KPBS arts editor and producer julia dixon evans has art that you can safely view for new years. We have our weekend preview next, just after the break.

For the arts preview this weekend, kpbs brings you a guide to some works of art viewable from the outdoors. Whether you're avoiding indoor gatherings or maybe looking for a way to kick off the new year with more walking, KPBS arts editor and producer julia dixon evans has her list, and she spoke with KPBS midday edition host Jade Hindmon.

So let's start with the oldest piece on your list by the influential regional artist, James Hubble, where can we

Speaker 2: (00:27)

Find it? Right? This one is, uh, the foot of Vulcan mountain in Julian. It's right at the trail head and it's called the Vulcan mountain gateway and it was built by James Hubble and a team of in 1990. It's a multi-piece sculpture. It's more of, of a passageway than an actual gate. There's two carved Cedar low walls on either side of the trail and they kind of jut upwards to the sky. They mimic peaks of their own. And then in the middle of the trail, there are three intricate iron sculptures on, on these posts. So you kind of have to walk through and around the sculpture to start the trail. Hubble's work is all over the region. And this is, is kind of one of the lesser known works of his plus. It's a really great hike. It's about a five mile round trip climb goes through the forest as well as these big grassy Meadows. And this trail is sometimes closed after rain or weather. So you can check with the San Diego county parks and rec department in advance. And

Speaker 1: (01:33)

Another trail side work of art is an early 20, 20 sculpture by Roman DeSalvo at mission trails. Tell us about that.

Speaker 2: (01:41)

Yeah, this is that the newish east Fortuna staging area field station. It's called fountain mountain kind of a play on the nearby Fortuna mountains. And this is part of the city's civic art collection. And it looks literally looks like something between a fountain and a mountain. There is a drinking fountain built into at this giant Boulder, which Roman DeSalvo then carved with intricate rivers and almost like trail patterns. So you can watch the water from the drinking fountain actually flow down those little channels. The Trailhead is convenient for a beginning, the 15 K loop over south Fortuna. Or you can just take a shorter mile, are so stroll around the grasslands right there.

Speaker 1: (02:26)

And now for some of the newer works on your list. Tell us about the new sculpture and Liberty station just unveiled last week.

Speaker 2: (02:34)

So this one is by Trevor Amie and it's the newest part of the NTC foundation's outdoor art program. That's at Liberty station. Uh, the one is wood and mixed media and the wood is actually sourced from fallen trees in Babo park. It's kind of rebuilt into an abstract version of what am Marie described as a nurse log or the trees that have fallen in the forest. And they remain there to kind of decompose and nourish the soil underneath. I love what the sculpture has to say about decay and death, and it's really huge and striking. You can wander around and look through it. This one is installed just outside the command center at Liberty station, and it takes the place of where the Nikki Gator temporarily was while the Mingay was under renovation in the last few years. And

Speaker 1: (03:24)

The next one is a window installation at the new Mor studio in golden hill. Tell us about deja

Speaker 2: (03:31)

Harris' work. Yeah, deja Harris is a fiber artist and this is her first solo exhibition. It's entirely contained in the front windows there, right on 25th street in golden hill. Harris makes these experimental rugs and fiber works and she kind of plays with a color block nostalgia. It's very abstract and it kind of like reimagines a rug. It's something that we almost always think of as one of those functional textiles. She also sources dead stockyard in her work, whether they're remnants left over for manufacturing or they're textiles that are not used because of a flaw and her works will be on view through January 16th

Speaker 1: (04:13)

In LA JOA. There's a new installment in the murals of LA JOA series. This one by Gabriel E. Sanchez. Where can we find,

Speaker 2: (04:20)

Yeah, this one is next to the lot movie theater in LA JOA, right on Fay avenue. And it's part of 15 current murals in this project throughout LA JOA Sanchez is a Los Angeles artist who studied art at point Loma Nazarene university. So there is a local connection and the mural is the series of, of lodge style vignettes. Um, these are scenes from the pandemic and with massive lettering of the word time across the center, the murals about tides and time life cycles and the such, and also bigger questions of our future. And many of these murals in the project are within wall distance of each other around the town center of LA Jolla. So you can make a day of it. And

Speaker 1: (05:06)

Finally you have some augmented reality art round out the list.

Speaker 2: (05:11)

Yeah, this is at the San Diego Botanic garden and the artworks are also on view in a dozen other Botanic gardens around the world. At the same time, the project is called seeing the invisible and you download an app and then you hold your phone up to the designated area at the gardens. And that makes the artworks appear to be in place. My favorite is WABA Mohammad Keem. It's called directions zero. And it's basically as if someone dropped a gigantic zero from outer space and it landed on top of the boardwalk path at the San Diego Botanic gardens. It's about math. It's about coexistence and peace. And if you can, you can zoom in or look closely on your phone etched into the imager that coordinates for every single country on the planet. And this whole exhibition, there are 13 works in total is on view through

Speaker 1: (06:03)

August. It all sounds fascinating. Uh, you can find details and an interactive map of all these outdoor artworks on our I've been speaking with K PBS arts editor, Julia X and Evans. Julia. Thank you. Thank

Speaker 2: (06:18)

You, Jade. Happy

Speaker 1: (06:19)

New year. Happy new year.

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 wonderful new years weekend.

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A dramatic surge in COVID-19 cases continued Thursday, with a new daily record of 5,976 infections. Public health officials are urging residents to keep New Year's celebrations small. Meanwhile, the trash truck driver strike at Republic Services is two weeks old, with no sign of progress in negotiations. Now, Mayor Todd Gloria is urging residents with trash piling up to contact the company directly for pickup services. Plus, our weekend arts events preview from the KPBS arts editor and producer.