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Vaccinating North County Latinos

Good Morning, I’m Annica Colbert….it’s Tuesday, October 26th>>>>

Efforts to vaccinate the Latino population in the North county. More on that next. But first... let’s do the headlines….######

A powerful storm called a bomb cyclone hit the pacific northwest and northern California over the past few days, killing at least two people. The storm caused major flooding and power outages...at the same time, it also brings an end to northern California's wildfire season.

Not so in southern California. Cal Fire San Diego Captain Frank Lococo says, the rain we got here on Monday won’t be enough to undo the drought’s damage.

“any moisture we get in this county is a great thing for us and hopefully preventing large scale devastating wildfires we just need it to be consistent … the reality is we’re still in peak fire season.”

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Gas prices are at a record high in California. Doug Shupe with Triple A says gas prices usually take a dip in the fall, but not this year due to the high price of crude oil.

“Because of the higher crude oil prices we’re seeing and stations here in CA must be selling that winter fuel which is cheaper by NOV 1st, but even once the winter fuel makes it in the market we might not see a decrease as we normally would.”

In San Diego drivers are paying one dollar and thirty three cents more per gallon today than a year ago.

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The ports of Long Beach and Los Angeles say they'll start fining companies whose containers linger at the marine terminals. It’s part of an effort to speed up the processing of cargo and eliminate a backlog of ships trying to deliver goods. The fines will begin at 100 dollars per container, increasing by 100 dollars per container each day.

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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.

The Latino population was one of the groups hit the hardest by COVID-19. But, according to a recent report from the San Diego Union Tribune, Latinos in the north county are behind on vaccinations.

KPBS North County reporter Tania Thorne has more.

This is Deysi Merino. She spent her morning going door to door giving information on COVID vaccines and testing centers.

DEYSI MERINO/PODER POPULAR COORDINATOR

“ today were doing canvassing for vaccination outreach.”

Merino is one of the coordinators for Poder Popular, or Popular Power.

They are a group run by Vista Community Clinic informing the community of health resources available in North County.

Every week, she meets with volunteers to go door to door giving information on COVID vaccines and testing centers.

“Poder Popular lideres have been fundamental in ensuring that the information that community members receive is trusted. We always think of them as the trusted messengers of the community. A lot of the material we distribute goes through their approval first.”

A report by the San Diego Union Tribune showed that Latinos in North County are falling behind in getting vaccinated.

Poder Popular is working to get more Latinos in North County vaccinated.

But Merino says some of the Latinos she has encountered are still hesitant over the vaccine.

“Sometimes the people that we have encountered are open to receiving the information. A lot of the time they have questions regarding some of the myths they have heard. Such as infertility.. Is this going to cause infertility.... I heard this from a friend…. So we always have a flyer to debunk these myths that they have heard.”

The volunteers say they’ve heard all kinds of myths, have gotten called names or sometimes go ignored.

But the group says the insults won’t stop them and they will continue their efforts.

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The nation’s leading experts in pediatric health issued a warning recently that the mental health crisis among children has become a national emergency.

As KPBS reporter Alexander Nguyen tells us … one child development center in North County is tackling teen mental health with a “whole child” approach.

The program is called Integra … which is Latin for whole and complete. Marisa Bruyneel Fogelman is the founder. Before starting and developing the Integra program, she taught high school English for over a decade.

She says the traditional schooling system often doesn’t address teens’ mental well-being.

I feel as though the pandemic really highlighted the emergency that our teens and youth are facing within their mental health. However, historically, our philosophy has been to address the whole child because we always say that our teens are navigating two worlds, both the external world that we live in and the internal world that they're working to navigate.

The program focuses on the five pillars of development … mental power, emotional intelligence, social skills, physical wellbeing, and personal development. Which Bruyneel Fogelman says give teens the tools they need for their mental well being.

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Back in January, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services introduced a landmark regulation. It requires all hospitals to post prices for every medical procedure they offer. But more than 10 months later, many hospitals in San Diego and across the country have failed to comply. inewsource investigative reporter Chloe Wynne explains.

CHLOE: If you go to a hospital for a procedure, you’ll end up paying a price that was negotiated between the hospital and your health insurance provider.

Historically, those prices have been kept private. But the price transparency regulation changes that. Now, hospitals are required to make those prices public.

But inewsource reviewed an audit done by a private firm that found that the majority of hospitals in San Diego have yet to publish all of their prices.

Jim Jusko, founder of FireLight Health, explains why he believes so many hospitals have been slow to comply.

JUSKO: If you’re selling the same thing at one price to one party and another price to another party, and here I mean a hospital is selling a hip or knee surgery to Humana at this price, but to United Healthcare at that price, you'd rather not have your two customers know what prices you're selling these items for.

CHLOE: Jusko says that’s because one of them is getting a better deal than the other.

That was inewsource investigative reporter Chloe Wynne. inewsource is an independently funded, nonprofit partner of KPBS.

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In Northern California, one of the largest megafires in state history is now 100 percent contained. NSPR’s Andre Byik reports.

Fire officials reported full containment of the Dixie Fire Sunday evening. The fire burned nearly 1 million acres and destroyed more than 1,300 buildings, devastating the community of Greenville on its way to becoming the second largest wildfire in state history.

Michael Davis is a public information on the fire. He says officials have been conservative about reporting increases in containment levels, wanting to be confident the fire doesn’t flare up and cause a hazard.

“The incident commander and his team had determined that with the current rains and the weather that's coming in that there was no longer any reasonable threat of the fire escaping containment.”

Davis says heavy fuels such as large trees can continue to burn even after being doused with water. He says people may see smoke rise from the interior of the fire zone once the area dries out in the coming week.

Personnel are expected to remain in the area repairing bulldozer lines and doing other suppression repair work before winter sets in.

For NSPR News, I’m Andre Byik.

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Coming up.... We’ll meet San Diego Unified School Board’s first-ever voting student representative.

I get to speak as a board member but in the end 95-percent of my experiences are formed right here on my campus.”

That’s next, just after the break.

For the moment, a proposal to lower the age on San Diego Unified’s COVID-19 vaccination mandate is on hold. The proposal came from one of the District’s High School students who also happens to be a voting member of the school Board.

KPBS Education Reporter M.G. Perez introduces us to this young man..who’s on a mission to make sure student voices are heard.

“Did he really work with his father or was that an indirect connection? ”

Zachary Patterson is a student who likes to ask lots of questions. On this day, the questions come in Miss Huszar’s English Literature class at University City High School. Zachary is a senior and like many of his classmates preparing for graduation...he’s stressed…

CG: Zachary Patterson/Student School Board Member

“I’m in AP classes, I’m a student who works hard but it does take a toll on my mental health. It does take a toll on my being able to do this. I do it because I love it.”

He’s not just talking about class assignments. Zachary has another love.

“Raise your right hand...I Zachary Patterson…”

In June, he was sworn in for a second term as the student member of the San Diego Unified School District Board of Education. Cindy Marten, the former Superintendent and current U.S. Deputy Secretary of Education did the honor online. Zachary says she’s one of his mentors.

“I would love to go to DC to work in the Department of Education for my old Superintendent and my good friend Cindy Marten. That would be an incredible opportunity and experience.”

For now, he’s committed to serve the more than 1-hundred thousand students in the San Diego district. He is the first ever student board member...a position he started campaigning for in 7th grade. With the help of others, he created a student advisory board first before being elected to the School Board in 2019.

“I get to speak as a board member but in the end 95-percent of my experiences are formed right here on my campus in talking to students...not as board member to constituent but as student to student, peer to peer.”

“We’re using RAZ KIDS...is there a program en espanol?”

Zachary is fluent in Spanish which was helpful on a tour of the Longfellow K-8 Dual Language immersion program. The tour is where he collects information and concerns from students and administrators to take back to the school board.

“You queiro entended programmas que ayudan estudiantes”

Along with campus tours, there are press conferences, too.

“If we get vaccinated. If we stay strong. We send a message that we believe in science.”

A month ago, Zachary was the board member who proposed lowering the age of the COVID vaccination mandate for students as young as 12 years old..following the science and lead of the Los Angeles and Oakland school districts. He is also responsible for creation of a student bill of rights and leading the effort to add a mental health curriculum for students. He says

Competing with his school cross country team helps his mental health along with meditation.

“I look at Zachary as a student first.”

Mike Paredes is the new principal of University City High School who first met Zachary on a ZOOM call and noticed his leadership skills beaming through the screen right away.

CG: Mike Paredes/University City High School Principal

“I’m amazed by his ability to navigate the way he does between the adult world then come to school and just be a kid. He does it with ease like a seasoned veteran. “

He won’t be a teacher but wants to study education policy and how he can improve it. He’s already made his mark...according to School Board President Richard Barrera

“Everyone who runs for this office in the future and serves is going to have confidence from your example that they can lead.”

Zachary closed his remarks after being sworn in with this statement

“We deserve an education system that is for the students and by the students and I promise that I’m going to spend every day that I serve on this board of education and beyond fighting for just that.”

That is something no one questions. MGP KPBS News

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.

A community clinic in Vista has a volunteer group going door to door to convince North County Latinos to get vaccinated. Meanwhile, 10 months after being required to post prices for every medical procedure they offer, many hospitals in San Diego and across the country have failed to do so. Plus, we’ll meet San Diego Unified School Board’s first-ever high school student representative.