Starting next month Americans will be able to get booster shots for the COVID-19 vaccine. Local immunologists talk about why they’re recommended. Meanwhile, the largest solar power generating facility in San Diego County is being built right next to the small east county town of Jacumba Hot Springs. But Jacumba residents overwhelmingly oppose the facility. Plus, the VA is looking for ways to help veterans succeed in college.
Good Morning, I’m Annica Colbert….it’s Thursday August 19th.
Covid-19 boosters are now recommended.
More on that next, but first… let’s do the headlines….
If you’re planning to attend an indoor event with more than 1,000 people you’ll have to show proof of covid-19 vaccination. That’s according to a new rule from the California Department of Public Health. Attendees will have to prove they are vaccinated at least 72 hours before an event, or show a negative covid-19 test. The events rules will take effect on September 20th.
Friendship Park is celebrating its 50th anniversary at border field state park. John Fanestil is the executive director of via international. He says the park has long served as a meeting place where people can hug their loved ones through the border fence. But, he says, in recent years border patrol restrictions have increased, and he says it’s become much less inviting. Local advocates are hoping to restore friendship park back to it’s true purpose. They want to create an open bi-national park where people can cross into a secure area and meet.
11 of California’s 58 counties are under a state of emergency due to wildfires…all in northern california. El dorado county, where the caldor fire is burning east of Sacramento is the latest added to the list. Cal fire chief thom [tom] porter says a number of preventative steps had been taken in the caldor fire area. But…
“when fire is jumping outside its perimeter, sometimes miles, sometimes those fuel projects won’t stop a fire, sometimes they’re just used to slow it enough to get people out of the way.”
The caldor fire has now burned nearly 54-thousand acres and destroyed 86 structures.
From KPBS, you’re listening to San Diego News Now.
Stay with me for more of the local news you need.
COVID-19 booster shots for Pfizer and Moderna vaccines will be available for all U.S. adults beginning next month. KPBS’ Melissa Mae spoke with local immunologists on why they’re being recommended.
A recent study from Israel suggests that COVID-19 vaccine protection could decrease after six months.
“There’s uncertainty, so I think the government is taking a better safe than sorry approach.”
Dr. Shane Crotty is a professor at the La Jolla Institute of Immunology and says the Delta variant means COVID-19 boosters are necessary.
Shane Crotty // La Jolla Institute of Immunology Professor
“Delta is a lot tougher to stop, it’s sort of almost a different virus in a way we have to think about it because it’s dramatically more transmissible. The more transmissible a virus is, the harder it is for your immune system to stop.”
The boosters contain the same medicine as the original Moderna and Pfizer COVID-19 vaccines. Results of the booster clinical trials are positive.
Crotty says the booster vaccine would only extend a person’s immunity.
Shane Crotty // La Jolla Institute of Immunology
“Immune memory that was good for several years after that and it wouldn’t be unreasonable for it to be good for ten years, just like a tetanus vaccine or a hepatitis b vaccine.”
“I wanted to get it because it’s added more protection on my side.”
Bianca Santos is a Kearny Mesa resident who is immunocompromised because of a kidney transplant she had back in 2017… Her doctor recommended she get the booster.
Bianca Santos // Kearny Mesa Resident
“I saw him virtually this past Monday and he said that I should just go for it. It’s really easy process, I just need to go to CVS. I don’t need a prescription for it, just to let them know I’m immunocompromised.”
Those who are immunocompromised currently can get the boosters at both CVS and Walgreens… the CDC has not released an official booster recommendation for people who received the Johnson & Johnson vaccine. Melissa Mae KPBS News.
The largest solar power generating facility in San Diego County is on its way to being built right next to the small east county town of Jacumba Hot Springs. But KPBS reporter John Carroll tells us the approval of the project came against the overwhelming opposition of Jacumba residents.
Jacumba Hot Springs… in case you’re not quite sure where it is, here’s a map… it’s a hamlet of about 500 people in far eastern San Diego County, right next to the border with Mexico.
And this is what it looked like in today’s Board of Supervisors meeting… scores of Jacumba residents showing up, most clad in yellow t-shirts, making clear their opposition to the proposed project. One thing everybody here agrees on is the need to move away from power generated by burning fossil fuels. And when you look at what the developers of the JVR Energy Park are proposing, it sounds like it fits in beautifully with that goal…
offsetting more than half a million tons of CO2 emissions, producing enough power for 52-thousand homes in the metro San Diego area and preserving 435 acres of open space.
CG: Voice of: Jeff Fallon/Project Manager
“This is the right place for the project. You’re gonna hear a lot today about how renewable energy adjacent to the town will somehow ruin Jacumba. We have to allow changes that will save our planet. That opportunity is right here, right now. Please support the project.”
But talk to most of the people in Jacumba… and you get a very different perspective.
CG: Cherry Diefenbach/Jacumba resident
“Please help us save Jacumba Hot Springs from a huge solar project that jeopardizes the future of our town.”
A town that since 2020 has been largely owned by this man Jeffrey Osborne and a couple of business partners. Osborne used a map to show the current town in green and then what the footprint of the solar farm would look like.
CG: Voice of: Jeffrey Osborne/Jacumba resident/business owner
“This is the size of San Diego International Airport. It is right next to our community, it is inside our protected village boundary, it’s on top of a specific plan area designed for residential and commercial development only.”
After listening to dozens of speakers, the board turned to discussion. Supervisor Tara Lawson-Remer said she was all in favor of renewable energy, but that the proposal didn’t seem equitable to the residents of Jacumba. Supervisor Joel Anderson echoed those comments, which led to some spontaneous deal-making. During the meeting, , the developer agreed to extend the buffer zone of the project from 300 to 400 feet away from the town’s edge, and in a dramatic move, the CEO of the company behind the project upped the financial commitment to pay for community benefits to Jacumba. It had been 1.6 million but rose to 4 million. Here’s the exchange between Supervisor Lawson-Remer, Chairman Nathan Fletcher and CEO Fred Robinson.
CG: Tara Lawson-Remer/San Diego County Supervisor
“I had the number 5 in my head, he said 3, so I think if it was 4, I’d be like, OK…
I’m the CEO of the company, I’m the CEO of the company, done. 4? Yep, we’ll commit to 4. So we’re good? OK. OK”
But Jeffrey Osborne says he has hired a lawyer. He didn’t say whether a lawsuit would be coming. JC, KPBS News.
Three of the republican candidates hoping to replace governor gavin newsom in a recall election next month met in a debate in Sacramento Tuesday night. Capradio’s Nicole Nixon was there.
The GOP hopefuls used the debate stage to blame Newsom for worsening homelessness and wildfires.
All three also said they would leave mask and vaccine mandates up to local governments and school districts.
Businessman John Cox — who lost to Newsom in 2018 — lamented that many students missed out on an entire year of in-person learning while the governor’s children attended private school.
COX: The parents found out during this pandemic how little control they have on their own kids’ education. Gavin Newsom had plenty of choice about where his kids went to school. >
Only near the end of the debate did former San Diego Mayor Kevin Faulconer attack another Republican candidate. Larry Elder, the GOP frontrunner, has been scrutinized for writing decades ago that women are less politically informed than men.
FAULCONER: He believes that it’s okay to discriminate against women, including pregnant women in the workplace. That’s bullsh— [BLEEPED] and we’ve got to call it that. >
If Newsom is recalled, his replacement would only serve the remaining year of his term. In his closing statement, Assemblyman Kevin Kiley made the case that voters could use that year as a trial run.
KILEY: So take a chance on change, see if things improve. And if not, you can always vote to return to the way things were in next year’s election. But I think that you will see things improve >
Ballots have already been mailed across the state. The final day of voting is September 14.
Coming up….the VA is looking for ways to help veterans succeed in college. More on that next, just after the break.
The V-A spends more than 13 billion dollars a year on educational benefits for veterans. And the agency has a new way to help ensure those who use the money to enroll in college will succeed. It’s partnering with a non-profit group called the Warrior-Scholar Project that runs “academic boot camps.” Jay Price reports for the American Homefront Project.
We’ll just create like, a working draft, implementing some of the easy changes from last night …
PRICE: > About a dozen veterans and active-duty troops in a University of North Carolina classroom listen intently as Hilary Lithgow >, an associate professor of English, helps them refine the essays they’ve begun writing on the philosophical underpinnings of American democracy.
TAPE: … And we’re going to fit in just the last couple of pieces about citations, titles…
PRICE: > Right up front is Master Gunnery Sergeant Eric Gonzalez, tattooed and heavily-muscled. He’s been in the Marine Corps for 23 years. Later, during a break, Gonzalez says when he retires from the Corps in a few years, he wants to enroll in a four-year college to become a physical therapist.
GONZALEZ: So the Marine Corps has given me the work ethic. I just want to find different ways to use those tools that I’ve been given.
PRICE: > That’s why he signed up for the bootcamp and made the drive from Camp Lejeune.
And that distance wasn’t just measured in miles: The gulf between the distinctive cultures of the military and academia can be daunting for veterans, who may not have been in a classroom for decades, and who worry how they’ll fit in among classmates who might be the same age as their children.
One of the project’s goals is to bridge that gap.
GONZALEZ: The encouragement that they give, like, you know, being a 41-year-old student, you know, going to college, you know, I’m a little hesitant to ask questions, because I don’t want to say something dumb or feel embarrassed or go to the stereotype that ‘There’s a big, dumb Marine.’”
PRICE: > About 1600 veterans and troops transitioning out of service have used the boot camps. About 90 percent of them have graduated, or are on track to.
Twenty-one colleges and universities HOST boot camps — including the likes of Harvard, Yale and Williams.
Because of the coronavirus pandemic, many are online for now.
But when done in person, the host institutions provide the classrooms, meals and housing, and the Warrior-Scholar Project — which is donor funded — covers the rest.
The VA is partnering with the program, hoping to improve the return on the higher education benefits it gives veterans.
BOGUE: This is a benefit they’ve earned, and they worked hard for. And we want to make sure that if there are available resources to them, that’s out there that can help them, to set them up for success, we want to be a part of that.
PRICE: Charmain Bogue is Executive Director of Education Service for the Veterans Benefits Administration.
The new partnership means the VA will help get the word out to veterans about the Warrior-Scholar Project. The bootcamps center around humanities, especially skills in analytical reading and academic writing, and have sessions on transitioning to academic life.
Some also include a focus on business or science and math.
Lithgow , the professor teaching the UNC bootcamp writing workshop, has worked with the project since 2015.
LITHGOW: There are a lot of reasons why I do it, the main one is, it’s what teaching is supposed to be. You know, you have a classroom full of really motivated students who just all they want to do is learn and do better. It’s what you hope for in every classroom, but you don’t always get.
PRICE: > Gonzalez, the Marine master gunnery sergeant, has had college courses before, and said he did well, but sometimes found his approach to the work grueling.
But the boot camp, he says, has helped. The first couple of nights he tackled assignments the way he does in the Marine Corps, going over something repeatedly until he’s figured it out thoroughly.
That worked, but kept him up till 2 am.
Then …the lessons started to sink in.
GONZALEZ: With the tips they gave through the analytical reading, I’m doing the same quality of work in a third of the time. So just those little things that the professor has gone over, it’s, it’s awesome. Like, the light bulb went off. I’m like, Wow. Okay.
PRICE: > Okay, meaning, now he feels ready for not just getting through college, but doing well at it. I’m Jay Price reporting.
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.