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School mask mandates remain for now

 February 15, 2022 at 5:00 AM PST

Speaker 1: (00:03)

Good morning. I'm Anica Colbert. It's Tuesday, February 15th, school mask mandates remain in place for now more on that next, but first let's do the headlines.

Speaker 1: (00:20)

San Diego county public health officials reported 787 new COVID 19 cases on Monday and 20 additional deaths hospitalizations continue to decrease here. The county is expected to update its COVID positivity test rate. Later today, police are now writing tickets for some of the people living in an encampment near the sports arena. The city says it's part of a progressive enforcement approach. Now that shelters have space again, but homeless advocates like Colleen Kosac believe the city is escalating enforcement to make it harder for people to be found in next week's homeless point and time count. If

Speaker 2: (00:57)

They scatter all of these people to the wind than the mayor's is gonna take credit for reducing homelessness.

Speaker 1: (01:04)

Rachel Lang is a spokesperson for mayor Todd, Gloria. She says that allegation just isn't true. And the enforcement is part of a normal process. She also points to federal funding tied to the homeless count. These

Speaker 3: (01:16)

Federal dollars are really important and how those federal dollars. One of the calculations for how which we get is the magnitude of our problem. So it is in our best interest to have an accurate count.

Speaker 1: (01:28)

The cleanup of the area started about two weeks ago. The aircraft carrier USS Carl Vincent returned to San Diego. On Monday, the carrier had been deployed for eight months to the Western Pacific leaked showed a January 24th accident where one of the Navy's new F 35 C fighter jets slammed into the deck of the carrier and fell into the ocean near the south. China C seven were injured, but no one was killed from KPBS. You are listening to San Diego news. Now stay with me for more of the local news you need, California. Students will still be required to wear masks for at least two more weeks. That's according to an announcement from the state's top health official cap. Radio's Nicole Nixon reports,

Speaker 4: (02:20)

Health secretary, Dr. Mark galley says COVID 19 cases. Hospitalizations and deaths are trending downward after the OCN surge, but it's not quite at the point where it's totally safe to remove masks in classrooms. Galley says he'll reevaluate the numbers on February 28th. He also defended school mask requirements and said, they've helped keep kids in the classroom. Over the past year,

Speaker 5: (02:43)

We have of 12% of the students in the country here in California schools. Uh, and we have experienced less than 1% of school closures. This year.

Speaker 4: (02:53)

Some parent groups have called for masks to be optional in schools, citing data that shows children are less likely to develop severe disease. Teachers unions say they support keeping mass rules while the state gathers more data in Sacramento. I'm Nicole Nixon

Speaker 1: (03:14)

On Capitol hill. There's a bipartisan cooperation to remove spent nuclear waste on Sanofy. The bill would prioritize removal of the waste from facilities near large populations or seismic hazards. San Diego Congressman Mike Levin, a Democrat introduced the proposal with Republican Darryl ISA Levin told K P B S midday edition that there's about 80 reactor sites in the us that have spent nuclear fuel.

Speaker 6: (03:41)

We should not be building new FIS power plants until, or unless we have solved the nation spent nuclear fuel challenge. And that is what I'm committed to doing. And it's a particular interest obviously to our district and to our

Speaker 1: (03:54)

Region. Levin says the department of energy is asking for proposals from communities that may want to store spent nuclear fuel. San Diego officials broke ground on Monday on a new affordable housing project next to the Grantville trolley station. K PBS Metro reporter, Andrew Bowen takes a closer look at the project and the surrounding neighborhood.

Speaker 7: (04:17)

The appeal of these 126 affordable homes right next to the trolley is clear more transit ridership, fewer cars on the road and less greenhouse gas emissions, but step off the trolley and into the neighborhood of Grantville. And you'll find busy streets that are hostile to pedestrians and cyclists mayor Todd Gloria says to meet the city's climate goals that has to change right

Speaker 8: (04:38)

Now, folks only have a car to get around Grantville. Um, and I think that we owe it to them to provide the pedestrian bicycle and mass transit opportunities that the, that would further help enhance this community, make it a better place for everyone to live and work.

Speaker 7: (04:51)

The city produced a study last year, that calls for widening the streets around the trolley station to accommodate more cars. Mayor Gloria has not yet said whether he supports that plan. Andrew and K PPPs news

Speaker 1: (05:06)

Coming up the a C L U is suing the government for information about the future of a federal jail in San Diego. That's currently being run by a private company. Also COVID is spreading quickly in immigration detention centers. We have the those stories next just after the break, The a C L U is suing to find out whether a controversial private prison in downtown San Diego will shut down. Eye news source, investigative reporter, Jill Castalano has more. Last

Speaker 9: (05:57)

Year. President Joe Biden issued an executive order that was supposed to phase out federal private prisons. The order should shut down a San Diego jail called Western region, which mostly houses nonviolent, federal offenders waiting for trial. But the facility is run by a controversial company called the geo group and executives. There have been working in secret to try to keep the jail open

Speaker 10: (06:21)

This place in downtown San Diego. It impacts us deeply. And yet there is no public information about what's happening.

Speaker 9: (06:28)

That's a C L U attorney Baras Vakili the a C L U filed suit. Two weeks after I knew source learned about an unexpected death at the federal jail Lorenzo Loach was arrested for smuggling drugs in September and unable to pay a $15,000 bond days later, he contracted COVID 19 inside Western region and died before he could plead not guilty.

Speaker 10: (06:52)

It's just the definition of a senseless death.

Speaker 9: (06:54)

The Keely says Loach's death shows just how danger private prisons can be for KPBS. I'm a new source. Investigative reporter, Jill Castano.

Speaker 1: (07:04)

I new source is an independently funded nonprofit partner of K PBS Mask. Mandates are soon disappearing for most people in California, but they'll remain in place at congregate settings like immigrant detention centers where COVID is spreading detained. People say it's been tough to get a booster shot, to protect themselves KQ E DS FA Java Romeo reports.

Speaker 11: (07:31)

Last month. The number of people detained by immigration and customs enforcement who got COVID 19 skyrocketed from about 300 to more than 3000 as Amron spread across the country. The CDC has recommended booster shots for all adults since last fall. And it prefers Moderna and Pfizer shots, which are more effective, but people locked up at ice facilities in California report. There's long delays to get a booster or that they can't get. The more effective ones says Edwin Carmona Cruz with the California collaborative for immigrant justice.

Speaker 6: (08:06)

There are, uh, massive efforts across the state and across the nation to be vaccinated, to be boosted, right? And so when you look at this population, that's in immigration detention, they're forgotten

Speaker 11: (08:19)

Advocates worry most about the thousands of detainees nationwide with medical conditions and a higher risk of getting really sick from COVID People like Enrique Crito Menezes who has asthma.

Speaker 12: (08:34)

My lung hurt. I think coughing, uh, since, uh, like the 21st

Speaker 11: (08:40)

He's been coughing since the 21st of January, that was just days after he says officials placed a new detain knee with fever and other COVID symptoms in his dorm violating ISIS pandemic protocols. He says within a week, he and 17 others tested positive. He blames the facility.

Speaker 12: (08:59)

I was frustrated because it was a lot of depend, including myself that I was already, uh, explaining some more simple. And I felt like their negligence with our health and my life and risk

Speaker 11: (09:12)

Riso wasn't boosted because the only offers the Johnson and Johnson vaccine, he says, and he had a bad reaction. The first time he took it as spokesman for the geo group, the company that operates golden state annex declined to comment on Crito story. He said, boosters are available, but wouldn't say which kind as spokesman with prison company management and training corporation that also runs an ice detention center in California, says they get boosters from ice, which has only had J and J

Speaker 13: (09:46)

Medical experts have all said that to only offer the Johnson and Johnson vaccine to somebody as a booster shot, fall below, uh, the standard of care that for anybody in the country,

Speaker 11: (09:57)

UN Cho is an attorney with the a C L U. She filed a lawsuit last month on behalf of medically vulnerable, IC who couldn't get boosters at all, including at the California facility where Christo is held.

Speaker 13: (10:11)

It is really inconceivable at this point that I has not gotten this act together to provide, uh, COVID 19 boosters to people in detention. Uh, this really just goes beyond the pale.

Speaker 11: (10:22)

I says it is committed to CDC guidelines and working to get Pfizer and Moderna booster shots, but a spokeswoman decline to answer questions about how many detainees have gotten boosters citing the lawsuit. Meanwhile, Carmona, Cruz and other advocates met with officials at the California department of public health to ask them to order detention centers in the state to offer the more effective boosters

Speaker 6: (10:48)

In requesting, um, the state to intervene and to protect the health and safety of immigrants in the state. When there's federal inaction, the

Speaker 11: (10:56)

California department of health says they're looking into it, but have no comment at this time on Friday, an immigration judge, granted Enrika Christo Menezes, the right to stay in the us. Still ice can hold him for up to 90 more days, but advocates want him released sooner so he can fully recover from the effects of COVID.

Speaker 1: (11:18)

And that was reporting for the California report. That's it for the podcast today, as always, you can find more San Diego news I'm Anica Colbert. Thanks for listening and have a great day.

Despite indications that California was on the verge of lifting its mask-wearing requirement in schools, the state's Health and Human Services secretary said Monday the requirement will remain in place for now, pending a Feb. 28 reassessment of COVID-19 case rates and other pandemic metrics. Meanwhile, San Diego has plans to widen the streets surrounding the Grantville trolley station — right where officials recently broke ground on a new affordable housing complex. Plus, the U.S. government pays more than $50 million a year for a private company to manage a federal jail in San Diego, yet the government has refused to provide information to the San Diego community on the future of the facility.