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Some SDPD officers refuse COVID tests

 June 14, 2022 at 5:00 AM PDT

Good Morning, I’m Annica Colbert….it’s Tuesday, June 14th

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Some SDPD Police officers are refusing COVID tests

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

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The first public hearing of the proposed San Diego county budget was held yesterday (Monday).

The proposed budget for the coming fiscal year is more than 7 billion dollars.

It includes funding for affordable housing, and more than 130-million-dollars for health care services in the county's jails.

You can make comments on the county’s budget during a second public hearing being held Thursday at 5:30 p.m.

Comments can be made by phone, online or in person.

The San Diego County board of supervisors must approve a budget by June 30th.

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Yesterday the Navy grounded its aircraft units for safety checks.

The one-day pause came after five Camp Pendleton based marines were killed last Wednesday when their aircraft crashed during a training flight in Imperial County.

Less than 48 hours after that, a helicopter based at the Naval Air Station North Island crashed in the desert near the Arizona border.

There were no fatalities in that crash.

Both accidents are being investigated.

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San Diego Temperatures will be in the low 70’s by the coast, low 80s inland.

It’ll be a little warmer in the East county, with Campo nearing the 90’s.

The National Weather Service says the heat will really set in on Wednesday.

Temps are forecast around the high 70’s near the coast, and 80’s inland.

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

Hundreds of San Diego police officers got to skip the COVID-19 vaccine because they said it was against their religion.

But that exemption came with a requirement that they test for COVID regularly.

Now, KPBS investigative reporter Claire Trageser says some of those officers say their religion ALSO prevents them from taking COVID-19 tests.

Officers told the city on religious exemption forms that the Bible instructs them not to put cotton swabs in their nose. “My beliefs stand for keeping my body clean and free from such unnecessary drugs and chemicals into my body,” one officer wrote. “I trust in God’s perfect design of my body, and that my body is the temple of the Holy Spirit,” wrote another. The phrase, “I trust in God’s perfect design of my body” was repeated 19 times in the records obtained by KPBS—we previously reported on many officers using the exact answers on their religious exemption forms, and copying those answers from form letters on the internet. About 10% of the police records KPBS received—the city is providing them on a rolling basis—makes this religious argument against using swab tests. The city’s Human Resources Department is still deciding how to handle those requests. But in the meantime, the officers are still on the job and are unvaccinated and not getting tests. The officers claim that the swabs contain a cancer-causing chemical called ethylene oxide—but they don’t. SOT 2:24 “Realistically, there just is no evidence indicating that that would occur.” Dr. David Pride is an infectious disease specialist at UC San Diego. He says ethylene oxide is not actually present on the swabs—it’s used as a gas to sterilize them. SOT 7:26 “The use of ethylene oxide is not new… 7:39 it's something that's been going on for many years. So if these were causing cancer in people, we would absolutely know about it now.” In fact, he says any police officer who’s gotten an influenza test used a swab sterilized with ethylene oxide. Still, officers argued the Bible says they shouldn’t take COVID tests. “1 Corinthians 6:19-20 states, ‘Do you not know that your bodies are temples of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God? SOT (07:32) “It really strains credulity that this would have any application there at all.” Kara Lyons-Pardue is a New Testament professor at Point Loma Nazarene University. SOT (07:14) “It's talking about avoiding sexual immorality. These are still outside of the range of what could have even possibly been imagined by the Apostle Paul when he's writing or the Corinthian Christians as they're reading it.” Many officers refusing COVID tests also compared their stance to keeping kosher. “My belief in this regard is similar to the objection others have to eating ‘unclean food,’” some officers wrote. Lyons-Pardue says equating nasal swabs to “unclean food” is also not Biblically sound. SOT 12:49 “This one seems just a really difficult mismatch for what Paul is even addressing. And the ways that Christians have applied kosher laws in a symbolic way to other aspects of life, it just simply doesn't fit.” As a Christian herself, Lyons-Pardue sees a Biblical argument for actually getting the COVID vaccine and testing, to avoid spreading a virus to others. SOT 3:26 “It strikes me that there's a great irony… 3:39 in using the Scripture to seek to preserve even the slightest and really speculative possibility of minor harm to one's person when so much of the New Testament is focused and really fixated on a testimony to a savior who was willing to undertake death and then told Christians that they would need to take up their cross and follow.” Dr. Pride at UC San Diego suggested there might be another reason some San Diego police officers are refusing COVID-19 swab tests. SOT 5:50 “Who wants to get a swab stuck in their nose every week to be tested? But I think they're kind of barking up the wrong tree with the idea that they're going to get cancer from just getting these nasal swabs.” Claire Trageser, KPBS News.

The San Diego Police Officers Association and the San Diego Police Department did not respond to requests for comment on this story.

San Diego Mayor Todd Gloria also declined to comment.

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Last week, Mayor Gloria urged the city’s homeless residents to accept shelter or face consequences.

inewsource investigative reporter Cody Dulaney found a sharp increase in police arresting homeless people.

DULANEY: An inewsource analysis of police data shows officers arrested eight times as many homeless people for blocking or sleeping on a sidewalk compared to the same time last year.

It’s the result of Mayor Gloria’s latest push for “progressive enforcement,” which penalizes homeless people for not accepting shelter. And now that shelter beds are becoming increasingly available, city officials are trying to get them filled. But research has found that this kind of policing-led, shelter-first method is ineffective at addressing the issue of homelessness. For KPBS I’m inewsource investigative reporter Cody Dulaney.

This story includes reporting from Danielle Dawson

inewsource is an independently funded, nonprofit partner of KPBS.

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The recent mass shootings in Buffalo and Uvalde have intensified calls for gun control.

Yesterday two county supervisors said they plan to introduce a policy that will allow the county to sue gun manufacturers for their role in gun violence.

KPBS reporter Alexander Nguyen has more.

The policy is similar to steps that cities elsewhere have employed to curb gun violence. Los Angeles … for example … is suing ghost gunmaker Polymer-80 for selling its kits without background checks or serial numbers. And County Supervisors Nathan Fletcher says litigation has worked before. SOT “particularly in issues of tobacco and opioids, where individuals act recklessly and irresponsibly, and there is considerable moral damage or harm that is done while they profit off of their product. And we think it's time that we explore that same mechanism available for us here. Gun advocates call the idea ludicrous. They say it’s akin to suing car makers for drunk driving. The board of supervisors is voting on the policy Tuesday. If passed, it will direct the county’s lawyers to bring back recommendations to the board whenever litigation is appropriate. AN/KPBS

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Coming up next… a new pilot could give money to seniors to help them pay rent. That and more, coming up after the break.

On Monday, The San Diego City Council gave their initial approval of a new general fund budget for the fiscal year that begins on July 1.

KPBS reporter Jacob Aere says councilmembers unanimously approved the nearly 2-billion-dollar budget.

Council members, as well as members of the public, weighed in on various items included in Mayor Todd Gloria’s proposed $1.89 billion general fund budget. Departments where the Mayor is seeking a boost in funding include: parks and recreation, environmental services and stormwater management. Meanwhile, proposed funding for the police and fire departments stayed relatively steady. Alejandro Amador is a San Ysidro resident who advocated for improved parks in his community. “Parks improve our well being, reduce pollution and bring people together. But not all of us have had that equal access to quality parks. Beyer Park is an opportunity to address the heavy air pollution in San Ysidro and the lack of resources in our community to combat it.” San Diego City Council President Sean Elo-Rivera says the budget strikes a balance across multiple areas of need in the city. “Given that we are working from a place of structural deficit at least, I think this is a remarkably good budget that takes care of a lot of the city’s needs. We do that with respect to the city’s most pressing issue - our housing and homelessness crisis.” The city council is holding its final hearings on the budget next week. The budget must be finalized by June 30. Jacob Aere, KPBS News.

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The budget approved by the council …funds a rental relief program for the most at-risk San Diegans.

KPBS health reporter Matt Hoffman says it’s now up to Mayor Todd Gloria to approve or deny the council’s request.

The Housing Stability fund pilot project would give eligible San Diegans 500 dollars a month to help pay their rent.. The plan includes enough money to cover 300 households for the next two years.. Serving Seniors CEO Paul Downey says a recent needs assessment shows most homeless seniors are on the streets because they can’t afford housing. He says an extra 500 dollars a month could make all the difference, especially for seniors on fixed incomes. 1:30.558 Paul Downey, Serving Seniors CEO. They are struggling with inflation now over 8 percent so they are being hit hard and when you’re on a fixed income rent goes up, grocery goes up that puts them closer to homelessness. The rental subsidies program would support seniors, those with disabilities, families and transitional youth regardless of their immigration status.. MH KPBS News.

That’s it for the podcast today.

After today’s podcast my colleagues Debbie Cruz and Emilyn Mohebbi will be taking the podcast over as I move on to my next adventure.

It’s been real, it’s been fun. Thanks for tuning into san diego news now and I hope you will continue to support the podcast and KPBS.

This is Annica Colbert, signing off.

Some San Diego police officers are refusing to take COVID-19 tests, saying they violate their religious beliefs. Meanwhile, more homeless people are being arrested in San Diego, after San Diego Mayor Todd Gloria came up with a more aggressive approach to get homeless people into shelters. Plus, two county supervisors want to hold gun manufacturers accountable for gun violence.