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Vaccine Mandate For San Diego Schools

Good Morning, I’m Annica Colbert….it’s Thursday, September 30th.

Implementing the vaccinate mandate at San Diego Unified. More on that next, but first… let’s do the headlines….

Thursday was the deadline for health care workers to be vaccinated against covid-19, or face losing their jobs.

A day before the deadline Scripps Health says just about 140 workers – or less than one percent of the workforce – aren’t vaccinated or have approved exemptions. CEO Chris Van Gorder says he’s hearing the state may allow some hospitals to delay implementing the mandate.

What I’m hearing is that for an organization that is really facing a significant staffing shortage and immediate adaption of the regulations could create a problem for patients I think they’ll be given a short term extension

A spokesperson for Sharp HealthCare says they have three percent of the workforce or 539 employees unvaccinated and without exemptions.

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The city of San Diego has extended its deadline for all employees to get vaccinated for COVID-19. The new deadline is December 1st. The extension gives the city more time to negotiate with its unions over the mandate, which is technically a change in terms and conditions of employment.

Legal analyst Dan Eaton says the city is within its legal rights to declare a vaccine mandate.

“The city is taking a hard line because the pandemic has proven to be uniquely uncompromising in its impact and the effect it has as an obstacle to resuming normal business operations.”

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Meanwhile, San Diego county reported 515 new coronavirus cases on wednesday and 12 additional deaths. The amount of people in the hospital with covid is continuing to go down, according to state figures.

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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.

San Diego Unified School District is moving quickly to implement its new COVID-19 vaccine mandate. Late tuesday night, the district’s school board voted unanimously to require vaccinations for all age-eligible students and staff members.

KPBS Education Reporter M.G. Perez has followed the story and brings us the latest.

The message is clear.

CG: Dr. David Bazzo/ UC San Diego Medical Center

“The vaccine is safe. The vaccine is effective…and to combat this pandemic we must get everyone vaccinated.”

…and there’s this, too…

CG: Sharon Whitehurst-Payne/School Board Vice President

“We’ve got to kill the virus and so this is our way of saying we want it over with so we can get back to reality.”

San Diego Unified Board members and medical experts held a news conference on wednesday, just hours after unanimously approving a COVID-19 vaccination mandate at their marathon meeting Tuesday night. The meeting was virtual and contentious. Dozens of people spoke during the public comment session for and very much against requiring all eligible staff and students 16-years and older to be vaccinated. Otherwise, they would be terminated or forced off campus.

“if I get coronavirus it could be significantly worse for me.”

18-year old Zachary Patterson is the designated student Board member. He voted for the mandate after publicly revealing for the first time that he is immunocompromised.

CG: Zachary Patteronsen/Student Board Member

“What I say is remember me. Remember us. Remember we can change the outcome of this pandemic.”

CG: M.G. Perez/KPBS News

“As the school district moves ahead with its mandate plans…opposition is not going away. They are still people with plenty to say and they’re going to keep saying it.”

Last evening, before the public board meeting began…hundreds of people postured and protested outside the school administration building. For many of them it is a matter of choice they feel has been ripped away by the board’s mandate.

CG: Sharon McKeeman/Let Them Choose Coordinator

“They’re not planning to honor personal belief exemptions, they’re planning to remove kids from in-person learning and there are alot of laws and state regulations that say they can’t do that.”

CG: Richard Barrera/School Board President

“Go ahead and get your student vaccinated if they are eligible rather than keep your kids out of school. That is not the decision we’re looking for and that is not our goal.”

Loud and clear…mandated COVID vaccinations are here. M.G. Perez KPBS News

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One thing that’s gone hand in hand with the pandemic since it began are questions. Some of the latest ones surround booster shots, testing – and the new R-one variant.

KPBS reporter John Carroll spoke an expert who has answers to some of the most pressing questions.

Shortly after the COVID-19 pandemic began, KPBS launched a COVID blog on our website, KPBS dot org, to answer your questions on a whole host of COVID-related issues. It has remained one of the most visited pages on our website ever since. In addition, we regularly call on experts to help us understand where we are in this pandemic. Today, it was Dr. Eric Topol, the director of the Scripps Research Translational Institute in La Jolla. He spoke to KPBS Midday Edition and the top question was the new variant spreading in California, called R-1. On that, Topol had good news.

CG: Dr. Eric Topol/Scripps Translational Institute Director

“It has no worry with respect to outcompeting Delta. Delta is the issue. There hasn’t been a variant yet that we’ve seen, including R1 that has any features that will compete with Delta.”

With the school year upon us, lots of parents are wondering when their young ones can get the shot. Right now, 12 to 16 year olds can get it under an emergency authorization. But what about those under 12?

“We’re expecting that sometime in the month of October it will get reviewed, possibly by the end of October or early November. If everything looks good, it could get an emergency use authorization.”

One area where the U-S is badly lagging the rest of the industrialized world is in testing. Many countries distribute free rapid tests, which Dr. Topol says are very effective in limiting the spread of the virus.

“It’s just amazing to me that throughout this period, we haven’t gotten this straight and our FDA is still the bottleneck to get these tests out there.”

Finally boosters. The FDA approved them one week ago for people 65 and older, those with certain health conditions and for people who work in health care settings. At this point, the only data on the effectiveness of boosters is from Israel with the Pfizer vaccine.

“By getting the booster, there was a 20-fold increase of protection, that is restoring it to the original level of protection.”

Moderna and J&J have yet to submit data on the effectiveness of booster shots, leading to more questions as the COVID-19 pandemic drags on into what will soon be month number 19. JC, KPBS News.

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The state’s eviction ban expired on wednesday. Now more than 700,000 households that are behind on rent are vulnerable. ..more vulnerable than they have been in at least a year. Race and Equity reporter Cristina Kim has the details on what protections remain in place for San Diego renters and landlords.

California’s eviction moratorium largely prohibited landlords from evicting tenants for nonpayment of rent. Now it has come to an end.

Landlords will now be able to start eviction proceedings if a tenant hasn’t paid the rent. BUT some protections and programs remain in place for vulnerable San Diegans. So says Gilberto Vera, Senior Housing Attorney with Legal Aid Society of San Diego.

The protections remaining are to prevent nonpayment of rent evictions but they require that a tenant have an application at least pending to prevent an eviction to proceeding in court.

But In order for these protections to work, there has to be some rental assistance funds left. As of Mid-September, the city of San Diego had $13 million dollars remaining, Chula Vista had $ 10 million and the county had 100 million dollars left. Vera is urging tenants and landlords to apply now. For more information on how to apply visit housing dot Ca dot gov.

Cristina Kim. KPBS News.

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The Gaslight Steampunk Expo returns tonight for an in-person convention at the Mission Valley Marriott Hotel. KPBS arts reporter Beth Accomando has this preview.

Steampunk, in case you are not familiar, is a literary and artistic movement that takes inspiration from Victorian science fiction. Think HG Wells and Jules Verne, says Anastasia Hunter.

ANASTASIA HUNTER: They wrote what were called scientific romances. Steampunk is really a subgenre of science fiction.

Hunter is chair and director of programming for Gaslight Steampunk Expo. The Expo allows steampunk fans to gather in their most elaborate costumes and then enjoy music, panels, workshops, and competitions like teapot racing and tea dueling.

ANASTASIA HUNTER: Which is the only sport where you’re guaranteed a cup of tea and a biscuit for every participant.

Hunter adds that first timers are welcome — with or without a costume. With a return to an in-person convention she’s especially excited about Saturday’s swap meet.

ANASTASIA HUNTER: So if you have things that you do not want to have in your closet anymore because they need to go on to someone else, this is your opportunity for the entire community to come swap trade barter buy sell.

Gaslight Steampunk Expo runs tonight through Sunday at the Mission Valley Marriott Hotel. And while elaborate plague masks may be part of steampunk costuming, COVID face masks are required for all in door activities.

Beth Accomando, KPBS News.

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Coming up…. After 28 years of military service, Brogan Farren decided to retire. Now, she is a professional organizer. She has noticed civilians will often wonder if she’s been traumatized by her service.

“They all want to thank you for your service. But then the next unanswered question is…are you okay? Can I talk to you without you getting mad?”

More on that next, just after the break.

A recent survey found most Americans greatly overestimate how many veterans have PTSD. Two-thirds of survey respondents believe it’s more than half. But the real number is fewer than one in five. As Chris Haxel reports for the American Homefront Project, the misperception can lead to problems for veterans with… and without PTSD.

Brogan Farren spent 28 years in the Army. She was a helicopter pilot, and deployed to combat zones and on peacekeeping missions before she retired three years ago. Now she’s a professional organizer and she finds that… sometimes people in the civilian world are… curious about her past life.

BROGAN: they all want to thank you for your service, but then the next unanswered question is, are you okay? You know, can, can I talk to you without you, you know, getting mad?

HAXEL: She gets it. People in the civilian world might not know many veterans. If their perception is driven by what they see on tv or online, they might associate the military with severe PTSD.

BROGAN: you know, people have a perception that all of us, that we all have PTSD at the most severe level. And I don’t really think that people understand that it’s, it’s a graduated scale, just like almost everything in life.

HAXEL: It’s sort of a catch 22. If we ignore PTSD, people might not get the help they need. But overdramatizing it can create a stigma.

BROGAN: I don’t think they show enough of the middle of the road or the well-treated PTSD. And I’m concerned in the long-term that that will hurt the working prospect of veterans.

HAXEL: It’s pretty common for people to assume veterans have PTSD. Tracy Neil-Walden is a clinical psychologist and chief clinical officer at Cohen Veterans Network. She says many patients describe awkward questions about combat.

And when people find out Neil-Walden deployed overseas with the Air Force, she gets that question herself.

TRACY: There’s always an assumption that you’ve seen or done something horrific.

HAXEL: Through surveys, Cohen Veterans Network has found that Americans overestimate how many veterans experience PTSD and whether people with PTSD are dangerous. And they underestimate how treatable the disorder is.

TRACY: I’m not surprised that there’s misinformation, but the degree of individuals, the percentage of individuals who believe this was extremely surprising and really disheartening.

HAXEL: Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America is an advocacy group that focuses in part on mental health. Hannah Sinoway, a vice president there who is also a professional counselor, has spoken with thousands of veterans. She describes the stigma around veterans and PTSD as *extreme* … which means some people they meet might fear them just because they served.

SINOWAY: And it also creates difficulties and barriers for the individuals who are struggling. Right. You know, do you feel comfortable talking about this with your friends and family and your community, you know, sometimes not

HAXEL: At IAVA, she’s helped run a program called QRF. That’s military terminology for quick reaction force. And in this case, QRF is a hotline that veterans who need mental health care can call 24 hours per day.

In the last two weeks of August, calls to the hotline were up 70 percent

SINOWAY: The vast majority of those folks were calling as a direct result of what was happening in Afghanistan and their kind of personal feelings, um, feelings of stress and sorrow and confusion. Um, so we definitely saw a very notable uptick, um, in the veteran community of people struggling and reaching out for help.

HAXEL: She says the volume of calls is, of course, disheartening. But if there’s a silver lining, it’s the fact that so many people are willing to reach out when they need help. Some veterans might be wary of walking into a doctors office to talk about mental health. So if the first step is a phone call or text message, that’s ok.

HAXEL: I’m Chris Haxel in Kansas City.

That was Chris Haxel, reporting from Kansas City. 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.



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