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San Diego Fire-Rescue short-staffed

Good Morning, I’m Annica Colbert….it’s Tuesday, January 4th>>>>

Covid compromising local fire rescue units

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

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In San Diego the number of people hospitalized with covid-19 continued to climb on Monday, according to the latest state figures. There were 664 people with covid-19 in county hospitals, up from 628 on sunday, and 590 on saturday.

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While many waited in long lines on Monday for COVID testing, County officials defended their decision to shutter in-person testing over the holiday weekend. Supervisor Nathan Fletcher says it has been a difficult two years for the region’s health care workers.

“health care workers have gone through a lot so the ability to give them a day or two to be with their families given that the county only administers about ten percent of the total tests. let’s put this in context now. it’s about ten percent of the total regional amount. to give them a day or two to be with their families i think was the right thing to do.”

county officials say there will be 84 in person testing events this week, run by the county and their partners.

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The food and drug administration has authorized the use of a pfizer booster shot for children ages 12 to 15. The center for disease control plans to meet on wednesday to give official guidelines for using the booster.

Dr. Mark Sawyer is an infectious disease specialist with rady children’s hospital and uc san diego.

“we don’t have any evidence that it affects children differently but lots of children are getting infected because they are not yet immunized because they haven’t been eligible to get immunized. so just like in adults, if you are unimmunized, you are much more likely to get infected. so we are seeing that in children.”

On monday the FDA also authorized the use of the booster shot for 5 to 11 year olds who are immuno-compromised.

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

The San Diego fire department has issued an emergency brown out because of increased cases of covid-19. This means several units had to be shut down because dozens of firefighters are in isolation.

KPBS kitty alvarado says this order is meant to maximize resources.

THE LATEST COVID WAVE BEING FUELED BY THE OMICRON VARIANT IS TAKING DOWN EVEN THE BRAVEST. THE SAN DIEGO FIRE DEPARTMENT CURRENTLY HAS OVER 100 FIREFIGHTERS AND MORE THAN A DOZEN LIFEGUARDS IN ISOLATION, MEANING THEY TESTED POSITIVE FOR COVID-19. CHIEF COLIN STOWELL SAYS THIS IS UNPRECEDENTED.

Probably about three times as much as we saw during what we thought was then the peak of COVID for us, this is just numbers that we would have never imagined

STOWELL SAYS THIS HAS FORCED THE FIRE DEPARTMENT TO IMPLEMENT THEIR EMERGENCY STAFFING PLAN.

SINCE THE NEW YEAR, THE FIRE DEPARTMENT HAS HAD TO SHUT DOWN SEVERAL UNITS DAILY,

By us going into this with a plan in picking the units that we are going to close down we’re trying to ensure the response times are not significantly impacted and they see longer wait times, we have made sure that there are units in those fire stations that can still respond to those emergencies and if by chance that unit is already busy on another call and there’s a subsequent call coming in that district that it’s in an area that’s got fire engines real close by that can get in there quickly

ADDING TO THIS, THE CITY OF SAN DIEGO’S VACCINE MANDATE DEADLINE ENDS TODAY. IF EMPLOYEES ARE NOT VACCINATED OR HAVE A VALID EXEMPTION, THEY WILL BE SENT WARNING LETTERS OF TERMINATION.

MAYOR TODD GLORIA SAYS THIS MANDATE IS WORKING AND AT 88 PERCENT VACCINATED EMPLOYEES ARE AT AN ALL TIME HIGH. AND TOO MANY ARE FOCUSING ON THE IMPACTS THIS MAY HAVE ON FUTURE STAFFING LEVELS.

We are moving forward with a number of contingency plans currently, it is not accurate to say the vaccine mandate will have operational impacts. What is accurate to say is that we are currently suffering through operational impacts because of COVID-19.

GLORIA IS CONFIDENT IN THE EMERGENCY PLAN CHIEF STOWELL IS IMPLEMENTING

I trust his judgment and wisdom and making sure that our personnel and our apparatus are positioned in the right communities so that we can respond to emergencies as they happen, this is far from ideal don’t get it wrong, I would much prefer that we are not dealing with this situation

THE CDC SHORTENED ISOLATION TIME FOR PEOPLE WHO TEST POSITIVE BUT ARE ASYMPTOMATIC TO FIVE DAYS. STOWELL SAYS THIS WILL HELP BUT HE EXPECTS THIS TO GET WORSE BEFORE IT GETS BETTER.

We do expect it to probably continue to climb and hopefully we reach that peak and plateau soon but that was really our motivation to create this plan now and rather than wait until it was a dire emergency

KITTY ALVARADO KPBS NEWS.

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For the second time in the last few months, someone has spray-painted hateful graffiti at San Dieguito academy in Encinitas. The district is investigating, but kpbs reporter Melissa Mae says parents and community activists want more.

MM: At 3:55 am on January 1st, a single youth spray painted the front of San Dieguito Academy with racist and homophobic slurs. Today, students, parents and community leaders came together for a rally.

MM: Aya Jaffer is a junior at San Dieguito Academy High School. She says she doesn’t feel safe in the district.

AJ “I feel like we’re constantly. I never know what’s going to happen. There’s constant threats and especially this year in particular. It has felt rockier than ever to be a marginalized student in this district and it feels scary and it feels unsafe.”

MM: Leaders from the North County LGBTQ Resource Center and the NAACP were also present at the rally and are calling upon the San Dieguito Union High School District to take action.

MM: The school district is working to identify the youth. Melissa Mae KPBS News.

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A San Diego political leader and one of the most powerful labor advocates in the California Legislature - announced a surprise change of plans on [MONDAY]. CapRadio’s Nicole Nixon reports.

Democratic Assembly member Lorena Gonzalez announced her abrupt resignation during the first hour of session in the new year.

She’s leaving the Assembly to work with the California Labor Federation, which advocates for 12-hundred unions across the state.

GONZALEZ: The opportunity to serve in this capacity doesn’t come up but every few decades and as I think you all know, serving working Californians is my singular priority.

Gonzalez has authored dozens of envelope-pushing labor laws, such as a requirement that companies reclassify most contract workers as employees… and a new law meant to crack down on Amazon warehouse quotas.

The San Diego Democrat recently completed breast cancer treatment. She’ll lead the Labor Federation in July, when longtime chief Art Pulaski retires.

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THC—the chemical in cannabis that makes you feel high - actually comes in several different varieties. The most well known one is technically called Delta 9 THC.

KPBS reporter Claire Trageser tells us a new kind has emerged in the past few years—it’s called Delta 8 THC and it is currently prospering in a kind of legal limbo. .

So why is this new THC variety now being heavily marketed? Well, mainly it’s a way for cannabis producers and distributors to get around laws in states that ban THC.

To understand why, you have to start with the plant Hemp, which comes from the same species of plant as cannabis. But Hemp is legal, and so is CBD, which is usually made from hemp. From CBD, you can make Delta 8. So in states that ban cannabis, Delta 8 falls into a legal loophole.

The idea is for Delta 8 to make you high just like the usual Delta 9 THC. But Delta 8 and Delta 9 have different structures, which changes how they interact with the body.

The two strands are isomers—they have the exact same number of atoms, but their structure is slightly different.

Kyle Boyar

Center for Medical Cannabis Research, UC San Diego

The only difference is we have a double bond that's been moved. So the double bonds on one side with Delta nine, then you move it over and it becomes Delta eight

Kyle Boyar researches Delta 8 at UC San Diego’s Center for Medical Cannabis Research, but he says scientists don’t know a lot about it yet. There have been limited clinical studies on Delta 8.

A lot of people have dubbed Delta 8 sort of this weed light… All these reports really are anecdotal. These are not well designed clinical trials. This is what you read about people's experiences on the Internet, this type of thing. And while that's valuable, to an extent, there's not a replacement for a clinical trial, especially if we're talking about treating a specific illness or a condition.

Delta 8 is made by dissolving CBD oil and mixing it with acid,

and then using chromatography to isolate the THC strand. But Boyar says the labs that do this chemical process aren’t always well regulated.

A lot of the people that are making this stuff, many of them are untrained and definitely don't necessarily have any business doing synthesis if they're not trained chemists.

If the acid isn’t fully neutralized, you could end up ingesting it. And there might be other substances in the mixture as well.

Kyle

You don't know what you're getting. There's a lot of lack of quality control, because this is not regulated in the sense that there is no mandate saying if you put a Delta 8 product on the shelf that you have to test it because it's a legal loophole, basically.

Meital Manzuri

Cannabis Attorney

It's very different for every state and federally, and even it's just this huge Gray area. And there's been so many contradicting statements coming out of the DEA itself that it still all needs to be sort of hashed out.

Cannabis attorney Meital Manzuri says the federal government and states are still figuring out what to do with this new Delta 8 strain.

Meital

Here in California, they're essentially saying that it's going to be taken into the cannabis regulatory scheme at some point and be regulated just like cannabis from hemp will be. And then they're just going to be sort of this subjective analysis as to your product’s intoxicating effects and how that determines the legality.

Jackie Bryant is a journalist and expert on cannabis. She sees lots of marketing from companies selling drinks, syrups, and gummies all made with Delta 8.

Jackie Bryant

Cannabis Journalist

The first Delta 8 product I ever tried was from a brand called Level, which makes this product called Pro Tabs, and they're little pressed pills… and, yeah, it kind of feels like weed, but it's not quite there.

Because she lives in California where cannabis is legal, she would prefer products that have been tested. Plus, she says she likes that the traditional Delta 9 strain comes from plants.

Jackie

You don't have the plant, you don't have the farmer, you don't have the land, you don't have all of the expenses and manpower that come with that. And our current medical model and the FDA model of medical testing is one compound, one effect, and so cannabinoid medicine doesn't really fit well into that, because the cannabis plant produces again, a number of cannabinoids.

As for the future of Delta 8…it’s unclear. Right now, cannabis retailers are making lots of products with Delta 8 because it’s on trend. But whether that will last is not yet known.

This story was produced in collaboration with NOVA.

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Coming up.... Scientists from all along the west coast are trying to document a “King Tide,” or those tides that reach the highest tide levels. We’ll have more on that next, just after the break.

Scientists and volunteers from San Diego to the Oregon border are flocking to shorelines right now to document the “King Tide.” That’s an unofficial term for the highest the tide ever gets. They are important to record, because places that only flood during king tides now, might not be habitable in a hundred years as sea levels continue to rise.

KCRW's Caleigh (KAY-lee) Wells tagged along during last month’s king tide.

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.

The San Diego Fire-Rescue Department has issued an emergency brownout because of COVID-19. This means several units are being shut down temporarily because dozens of firefighters are in isolation. Meanwhile, for the second time in the last few months, someone has spray-painted hateful graffiti at San Dieguito Academy in Encinitas. Plus, a new variety of THC takes advantage of a “legal loophole.”