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Vaccine mandate ruling appealed

 December 23, 2021 at 5:00 AM PST

Speaker 1: (00:03)

Good morning. I'm Annica Colbert. It's Thursday, December 23rd, the legal back and forth over the school. Vaccine mandate continues more on that next, but first let's do the headlines With the M con variant taking hold in California. Governor Gavin Newsom announced on Wednesday new measures to slow the spread of COVID 19 first healthcare workers will now have to be required to get a booster vaccine by February. First, second Newsom is ordering 6 million COVID 19 tests and more screening for K through 12 is returning from winter break. And finally, the state's more than 6,000 testing sites will be open for extended hours. Newsom says the strategy will only work if everyone does their part at the end of the

Speaker 2: (00:53)

Day, nothing we do here at the state matters compared to what you do. And the decisions you make

Speaker 1: (01:01)

At at home Newsom says the number of COVID 19 cases in the state almost doubled in the past week, the California state university system announced on Wednesday that everyone who plans to return to their campuses for the spring semester must get a booster shop by February 28th or six months after they've received their final dose of the original vaccine. Christine Vaughn is the director of communications for Cal state San Marcos. There's

Speaker 3: (01:28)

Just been a lot of discussion about Theon variant and the spread. And what does it mean for our community? What is the best way to protect ourselves? And so the CSU answer to that is to get the

Speaker 1: (01:41)

Booster shot. It's gonna be a wet Christmas Eve. Rain is expected today in San Diego county and a flood watch has been issued for Thursday night and Friday morning for the coastal valley and mountain areas. And for all you Christmas travelers, and last minute shoppers forecasters say, please be careful out there on the roads from KPBS. You are listening to San Diego news. Now stay with me for more of the local news. You need The San Diego unified school board voted unanimously on Tuesday to appeal a superior judge's decision to strike down the district's vaccine mandate. K PBS's Gustavo Soli has more

Speaker 4: (02:24)

San Diego unified face pushback almost as soon as they announced a vaccine mandate back in September within a month, a group called let them choose Sue the district claiming the mandate was unlawful and unfair to students. And on Monday superior court, judge John Mayer struck down the mandate. Mayor supported the idea of a, a mandate, but ruled that San Diego unified went about it. The wrong way, the school district did not include religious or personal belief exceptions in its mandate, something. The judge says the school district does not have the legal authority to do on Tuesday. San Diego unified appealed the judge's ruling. It's unclear why the district didn't simply include religious exemptions in the original mandate, but they did share a statement that read in part, we are 100% determined to maintain the vaccination mandate. Let them choose says news of Tuesday's appeal. Doesn't take away their legal victory in its statement. San Diego unified had reiterated that the vaccine mandate for all school staff remains in place and has not been challenged in court. And

Speaker 1: (03:24)

That was K PBS's. Gustavo Emergency repairs are expected to start this week on the iconic ocean beach PI the 55 year old pier was damaged by a storm in January K PBS's. Alexandra Ronel has more from ocean beach. So

Speaker 5: (03:47)

There's three little macros we've got, we've only been out here less than an hour.

Speaker 1: (03:53)

Ed Jimenez has been fishing at the ocean beach pier for three years. Now. He says, it's where he goes to and wine for from the busy work week. And despite a portion of the pier being closed off to the public, he says it's still his favorite place to fish. Uh,

Speaker 5: (04:07)

It's a little deeper. So, um, yeah, the fishing, the fishing would be a little bit better over there, but, uh, um, as far as still having a nice, clean, safe place to fish, uh, this is still, it still does the job

Speaker 1: (04:22)

Hemenez appreciates the city making efforts to repair the peer city officials announced emergency repairs are underway and will take about four months to complete the west end of the PI being the section that has sustained the most damage from storm conditions. And deteriorat in a statement released by mayor Todd, Gloria. He says, we look forward to completing these emergency repairs so Sandias can, once again, enjoy everything this iconic landmark has to offer. We are also working on a long term plan to keep the ocean beach pure accessible and in good shape for generations to come earlier. This year, Gloria announced 8.4 million in regional funding had been allocated for the pier. However, estimates show a full repair or replacement of the PI is in the 50 to 60 million range. OB pier is the second longest in the west coast and attracts more than 500, the thousand visitors annually. And that was K PBS's. Aandra Ron hell a new exhibit at the Japanese friendship garden in BBO park may inspire you to look at fabric in a whole new way. KPBS arts reporter, Beth Amando takes you to Nuno. The language of textile.

Speaker 6: (05:43)

Nuno is a Japanese based company that combines the old and the new. It uses independent spinners, dyers and mills in villages throughout Japan to create what it describes as textiles, where nature and tradition are woven with technology, Chad Patton, managing director of material things, which is the international distributor of Nuno styles says the exhibit shows the evolution of textile design it's

Speaker 7: (06:07)

Nuno evolution, but it's also just how textile design on, on a whole has changed over the last 30 years. And I think Nuno has been a driving force in those changes.

Speaker 6: (06:16)

Visitors can see up close how paper tape and feathers are integrated into fabric with traumatic effect Nuno. The language of textiles runs through February 27th at the Japanese friendship garden,

Speaker 1: (06:29)

And that was KPBS arts reporter Beth. Amando Coming up with the Aron variant on the rise. It's looking less likely that it's gonna be returned to normalcy this holiday season K PBS got an update on the situation from a public health expert. We have that interview next just after the break.

Speaker 8: (07:14)


Speaker 1: (07:18)

For a normal holiday season has trickled away with each day's headlines about the oon variant new case numbers are climbing dramatically as this highly contagious variant circulates among a population with waning immunity. And for now researchers are still racing to figure out exactly what kind of danger Amron poses and how to fight it. Dr. Eric Topel is director of the scripts research translational Institute in the Hoya. He spoke with K PBS midday edition host Maureen Kana for an update. The FDA

Speaker 9: (07:50)

Has authorized the first antiviral pill against COVID. Tell us about the pill PAX

Speaker 10: (07:57)

Livid. Yes, this is actually Maureen. The biggest thing to happen, uh, beyond vaccines for the pandemic. I say that for a number of reasons, firstly, up until now, we've relied on our immune system to help fight the virus vaccines and then monoclonal antibodies. But with AMRO, we learn that there's a problem with vaccines and monoclonal antibodies because it can escape our immune system to a significant extent. The great part about Paxil as a pill when taken early, even up to five days, it will work in immunocompromised people, even it works against Amer and it has an 89% reduction in hospitalizations or death, which is really striking. And it was as safe or even slightly safe than placebo in two randomized trials. One other big bonus. It lowers the viral load in our upper airway by at least tenfold. So it will reduce transmission. And that's really important when you have a hyper contagious virus that's out there right now with .

Speaker 9: (08:57)

This is a Pfizer pill. This is PAX Livi. Again, do you have to take just one pill? No,

Speaker 10: (09:02)

It actually is two pills. It's Paxil with ritonavir, which is used to increase the blood levels of Paxil. It's two tablets of Paxil. One VIR twice a day for five days comes an a blister pack. That's gonna be distributed throughout the United States in the next couple of days, but there's the problem. There's only 200,000 blister packs available and that's not nearly enough, which is why I called for president Biden to activate the defense production act or some other means of getting for production, not to rely on just one company. This is a small molecule it's easy to make and we should be getting a mass produced so that it can be used throughout the world.

Speaker 9: (09:44)

Will people be prescribed the pill when they test positive, uh, considering that there are enough pills in circulation,

Speaker 10: (09:52)

Assuming that there's enough here in San Diego, they have to have our doctor's prescription to get the, the, the pill pack. And yes, that's what we envision happening as early as, uh, the beginning of next week. That's right

Speaker 9: (10:04)

The beginning of next week, but, but how will the government ramp up production on the new pill, the

Speaker 10: (10:10)

Production right now, 6.1 company. And that's not enough. We need other companies and make this at scale quickly. And we've been talking, you know, for a whole year about global vaccine equity. Now we're gonna be talking about global pill equity. So that's our problem right now. It's gonna be in short supply and, uh, the access to it is gonna be challenging.

Speaker 9: (10:31)

I also wanna take you back on what we just heard in the previous report. You see San Diego's decision to go back to online classes next month. Is that a good idea?

Speaker 10: (10:41)

It's the only logical thing. Once we saw what happened in Cornell where 97% of the students were vaccinated. And then with a matter of days, uh, after coming back from Thanksgiving break, there were over 500 students that were infected with Amron and then the whole town in Thompkins county Ithaca also took a big hit. So it's a safe thing to do right now. I think, uh, applaud U C S D from making that move. The university environment is tough, but it doesn't have to be, uh, protracted. And fortunately it's coinciding with the holiday break anyway. So I don't think this is a long term, uh, situation, but in light of what we've seen at Cornell and other universities, it's a wise move

Speaker 9: (11:26)

And all CSU schools, including San Diego state, they, they're not saying they're gonna go back online, but they'll now require everyone on campus to have a booster shot. Is that enough of a PROCO? Well,

Speaker 10: (11:38)

If we wanna really get the precautions up there, it would be the booster. Yes. Third shot and rapid tests. Um, that, that combination, uh, along with indoor masking, you know, gets close to a full protection, but, you know, unfortunately we don't use all the things with air filtration, CO2 monitoring, uh, keeping, uh, ventilation windows open. We don't do all the things that we can do to stave off the virus. Now,

Speaker 9: (12:07)

Of course, yesterday, uh, president Biden announced he's making 500 million free COVID tests available to Americans and that's supposed to start next month. How is that gonna help against this surge? Well,

Speaker 10: (12:19)

It's about a year overdue Maureen, but it's good. Uh, the only problem is 500 million in a country or 330 million people. Won't get us very far in Colorado. They're distributing by mail, uh, several 10 to each resident, uh, on a frequent basis. That's what we should be doing in California. The, uh, the new plan, sometime in January, it isn't specified how we're gonna get access to those tests is obviously gonna be very limited because 500 million in such a big country is not gonna get us very far, but we should get many billions of rapid tests, widely distributed, cuz they will help us manage the pandemic they've been validated, uh, extensively they're used and relied upon in many other countries around the world. And we're way behind on

Speaker 9: (13:07)

That. So it sounds like the pill is as far as your concerned, a complete game changer when it comes to COVID. Yeah,

Speaker 10: (13:14)

I, you know, a lot of people use that term Maureen game changer, but I just see the pandemic. It isn't a game, you know, it's like, this is serious stuff, but yes, this is transformative. As I said, it's the biggest thing since vaccines to help us in the pandemic, it will be a very big advance in our tool chest to deal with any version of the virus.

Speaker 9: (13:36)

Okay. So I, I wanna close this though by acknowledging the fact that no matter what people are going to travel this holiday to see family and friends, mm-hmm, , we've already heard that, uh, the airports are expecting, um, a lot of crowding. Everything is expecting crowds this holiday. So what's your advice?

Speaker 10: (13:55)

Well, I totally respect the, um, their desire, uh, for people in need to travel, uh, over the holidays. Uh, there are many things that you can do, um, certainly using a better, uh, high quality mass, like K N 90 fives, uh, would be a, uh, uh, an important, uh, part of that. Uh, you know, I, I would like, and I have called for, uh, our administration to make, uh, flights only by passengers with triple vaccination or two shots in with less than, uh, four months from there, second shot. We haven't done that. That would help because you're sitting on a plane for hours and it's not good when you can have anybody join board, the plane who is not vaccinated or not boosted that would help. We don't have that enacted. It is the case by the way, Maureen and Canada, and many other countries. And I just don't understand why that hasn't happened here that would make, uh, travel more safe for

Speaker 1: (14:55)

Everyone. That was Dr. Eric Topel director of the script's research translational Institute in LA Hoya. He was speaking with KPBS midday edition, host Maureen Kavanaugh, And that's it for the podcast today. Be sure to catch KPBS midday edition at noon on KPBS radio, or you can check out the midday edition podcast. You can also watch KPBS evening edition at five o'clock on KPBS television. And as always you can find more San Diego news I'm Anica Colbert. thanks for listening and have a great day.

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On Monday, a San Diego Superior Court judge ruled that the San Diego School district vaccine mandate contradicts state law. On Tuesday, the district’s board voted unanimously to appeal. And then, repairs begin on the iconic Ocean Beach pier. Plus, an update on the holiday covid-19 situation with a local public health expert.