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San Diego Holiday Travelers Not Deterred By Delta Variant Threat

 July 6, 2021 at 5:07 AM PDT

Good Morning, I’m Annica Colbert….it’s Tuesday, July 6th. >>>> Increase in travel despite the delta variant More on that next, but first... let’s do the headlines…. ###### A brush fire in Santa Ysabel along state route 79 is now 90 percent contained. It started up Saturday morning when it was reported that a motor home had caught fire before it spread into nearby brush. It has burned any additional acres since yesterday, leaving it at 173 acres burned. It forced some evacuations in the area, but Cal Fire says no additional structures have been damaged. ######## The San Diego Humane Society says it recovered 80 stray animals since July 4th. That includes 56 dogs. The humane society says many likely ran away from their homes during the fourth of july fireworks celebrations. Any one who lost a pet is advised to check the humane society’s lost and found page on their website. If you find a stray pet, check for a tag and try to locate the owner first. Pets may have tags with phone numbers which could prevent a ride to the shelter. ######## Fourteen more San Diego libraries are scheduled to reopen for in-person services today, after being closed due to the pandemic. The branches will be limited to 50 percent capacity. Some in-person programs will be available at select locations, while virtual programs will continue on the San Diego public library's virtual hub facebook page. ######### From KPBS, you’re listening to San Diego News Now. Stay with me for more of the local news you need. The july 4th weekend was among the busiest travel weekends since the pandemic began. And it comes with some concern, as the state's covid-19 positivity rate has suddenly doubled. The new delta variant may be the reason why. But as KPBS’ Melissa Mae tells us, travelers in San Diego were not overly worried. The July 4th weekend marked a significant jump in visitors streaming through the San Diego International Airport. Travelers KPBS spoke to said they felt safe, even with news of the Delta variant becoming the dominant strain in California. The CDC calls it “hyper-transmissible” Desiree and John Cummins are residents of Virginia who came to San Diego for the holiday weekend to celebrate the 4th with family. “I feel very comfortable. My experience with all the other travelers is that everyone is just so excited to be out and to get to go and see family and have experiences outside of the house that everyone is just excited to be out.” Mask enforcement and social distancing in airports and on airplanes are enforced through September 13th regardless of vaccination status. Melissa Mae KPBS News. ########## Dozens of volunteers gathered at beaches across the county to pick up trash and beach litter following this weekend's celebrations. KPBS reporter Alexandra Rangel has more from Mission Beach. “As you can see we have eight pounds here.” 80 pounds and counting, that’s how much weight in trash volunteers had picked up by 10:00 A-M, Monday morning. I Love A Clean San Diego partnered with the county’s Surfrider Foundation to lead the cleanup efforts at San Diego beaches. Over 50 volunteers came out to help in Mission Beach. Alexandra Rangel, KPBS Reporter “Volunteers are given a pair of gloves and a trash bag. They’re looking for anytype of trash both big and small. As we’re walking down the beach we can already see a piece of wood and plastic dental floss.” Everything from plastic cups, to cooking utensils, and plastic inflatables were left behind by beach goers. Nikolas Kennedy, the community coordinator for I love A Clean San Diego explained the importance of caring for our environment. Nikolas Kennedy, I Love A Clean San Diego Coordinator “A lot of stuff can get left behind and that stuff has a direct nexus to the ocean here. It’s just not important to clean in your neighborhood for things tat can flow downstream but i this case birds high tides can easily take trash and put it right into the pacifc ocean.” Picking up trash on July 5-th has become an annual tradition for Julia Thomas and her mom. Julia Thomas, San Diego Resident “I go to the beach here and spend my time here so I know other people spend their time here. I want them to feel safe and have a good time when they’re out here.” This year they found… Julia Thomas, San Diego Resident “A lot of cigarette butts, this year a lot of diapers for some reason, that has been very interesting.” While some stick to the sand and the grass area ... Julia Thomas, San Diego Resident “We like to go to the parking lots just because a lot of people are in their cars eating food and a lot of trash gets left in the parking lots and I don't think it gets much attention.” To keep things on the safe side this year's cleanup was hosted virtually which allowed organizers to expand their reach far beyond the beach. Nikolas Kennedy, I Love A Clean San Diego Coordinator “We developed an online tool, an awesome resource that people can use so they can do a cleanup around their neighborhood.” Kennedy says efforts to clean up local beaches continue throughout the year. Those who would like to get involved can visit CLEAN SD DOT ORG. Alexandra Rangel, KPBS News. ########## voters passed a 10 million dollar bond measure to build high-speed rail between los angeles and san francisco, with intention to eventually connect to san diego. But the project has been steeped in problems. KQED politics editor scott shafer reports on the growing doubts about the plan. ########## California lawmakers have approved a state budget that includes record funding for education. The plan expands financial aid for college students, and gives every 4-year-old access to "transitional" kindergarten. For the California Report Vanessa Rancano has the story. ########## Coming up.... “A lot of times we become toxic simply because we are so stuck in this mindset, of being hey army army army, and we forget that they are human” The Army is trying to grow a new generation of leaders who are more open and compassionate. We’ll have that story next, just after the break. At Fort Hood, Texas, the Army is trying to grow a new generation of leaders who are more open and compassionate. After Vanessa Guillen was killed on the base last year by a fellow soldier, her family said their daughter was afraid to report to her superiors that she was being sexually harassed. Carson Frame reports for the American Homefront Project. When 28 year-old Ebony Rice became an Army drill sergeant a few years ago, she adopted the leadership style that you probably associate with the job. Loud. Demanding. Hyper-focused on making sure recruits followed the rules and worked as a team. RICE: The environment that we’re in, we have to have that demeanor where we're, we're tough, and we're hard on them, you know what I’m saying? But then, Rice got a wakeup call. One of her recruits was being sexually preyed upon by another soldier but didn’t feel safe telling Rice about it. RICE: ... the offender at the time was close to me. And they felt like they could not come to me because they felt like I would have taken that person’s side. Rice took a hard look at her own behavior--and the kind of relationships she had with her soldiers. RICE: So going forward, I had to make sure I made it clear, hey, I care more about making sure that you all are in a safe environment... I'm not going to defend my battle buddy when they're doing something wrong to you.” Now Rice is taking part in a program called Strong Sergeants that aims to help people like her develop a hands-on, compassionate approach...with more positive communication. It also tries to give junior enlisted soldiers a baseline for what good leadership looks like. General Ronald Ragin heads the 13th Expeditionary Sustainment Command, seated at Fort Hood. He came up with the idea. RAGIN: I think our army over the last 20 years was busy. And we were busy fighting multiple wars in multiple locations. And I think that led us to take our eye off of the most important thing to us, is our people, right? Since the death of Specialist Vanessa Guillen last year, a key to the Army’s internal reform efforts has been eliminating what it calls “toxic leadership.” An independent review found that the base fostered a leadership environment that allowed for sexual harassment, assault and violence to go unchecked. That was a big motivator for Ragin. His program includes a crash course on how to respond to sexual misconduct and identify red flags. RAGIN: The problem is a lot of times that leaders might not know that there is an issue. But to me, it's really about leaders being engaged and leaders taking action, right, and holding each other accountable to what our baseline and our standards are. As part of the program, a group of soon-to-be sergeants has been doing exercises to foster open communication, train them to react to stress, and maintain a respectful environment. Army leaders say that can lessen the risk of harassment and abuse...but also pay dividends on the battlefield. In this exercise, the group had to root out a terrorist in a make-believe city. NAT: BANG BANG BANG! Enemy 12 o’clock! During the exercise, one leader forgot to tell his squad about the number of enemy troops and their position. Sergeant Rice, their mentor, stepped in to urge the others to help.. Urged teamwork RICE: If you see him forgetting, what could you do? PVT: I could’ve called it out. RICE: Especially if it’s gonna help save you. PVT: Roger sarge. FADE DOWN 18 year-old Private second class Jeremiah Harvey took part in the training and hopes to move up in the Army. He says programs like this have improved the environment at Fort Hood. HARVEY: I think the soldiers have more of a voice now. I feel like the training is definitely helping. And Rice says she’s seen a change in herself and other leaders. RICE: You see more of those good leaders calling out hey, Maybe we shouldn't talk to the soldiers like this. Maybe we should ask them how they feel… a lot of times, we become toxic simply because we're so stuck in this mindset of being Hey, Army, army army, and we forget that they're human. An Army task force is studying the strong sergeants program. But military leaders haven’t yet decided if it should be expanded to other bases. I’m Carson Frame in 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.

The San Diego International Airport saw an increase in travelers over the July Fourth weekend, even with the news that the delta variant of COVID-19 has become the dominant strain in California. Meanwhile, volunteers remove trash and debris left behind at county beaches by thousands of residents and visitors who flocked to the shores for the Fourth of July holiday weekend. Plus, a new training program has debuted at Fort Hood, Texas, trying to teach leaders to be more open and compassionate.