COVID-19

Issues & Ideas: Wildfire smoke on wine grapes, downtown vitality and SLO's first cannabis store

Sep 17, 2020

California voters will decide this fall on a dozen ballot measures, including one measure that would exempt gig companies from a law that makes it harder to classify workers as contractors. A black box theater in Santa Barbara that was almost exclusively a rental venue before the pandemic is now producing its own shows. We’ll hear from a Central Coast grape grower, who talks about the possible effects of smoke particles on wine grapes. The cities of San Luis Obispo and Santa Barbara are responding to COVID-19 and imagining new ways for the respective downtowns to operate as spaces for people to live, work, and play. Finally, we’ll hear from the owner of San Luis Obispo's first cannabis retail store. 

Angel Russell

Los Angeles County has banned haunted house attractions and festivals this Halloween, and the LA County health department is also recommending parents not take their kids trick-or-treating due to COVID-19.

While Halloween traditions are up in the air in the Central Coast due to the pandemic, that’s not stopping people from coming into the Santa Maria Spirit Halloween store. 

Angel Russell

Despite an ongoing pandemic and wildfires causing smoky skies, people are still visiting the Central Coast—but overall tourism is sharply down compared to years' past.

Courtesy of Partners in Education video

Schools have moved to online education and that means every student needs a computer and internet access to participate. A program called Computers for Families provides refurbished equipment and technical support to families throughout Santa Barbara County.

Depression and anxiety continue to rise as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. As the virus continues across the U.S. it has created a level of isolation not previously seen before. Fear for our health, and that of family and friends, financial strain, food shortages, and much more brought on by the pandemic, can bring extraordinary stress into our daily lives. A Kaiser Family Foundation poll conducted in July 2020 found more than half of U.S. adults reported their mental health has been negatively impacted due to worry and stress over the coronavirus, an increase of 20% from when the same question was asked in March 2020. 

In response to the pandemic shutdown, some Central Coast cities are focused on providing financial support to small businesses. Other cities are directing support to residents. September 4 is the deadline to apply for an emergency rental assistance program in Santa Maria and Goleta.

Valley View Adventist Academy

While most local students started the 2020/2021 school year with online learning, 13 private elementary schools around San Luis Obispo County have been granted waivers to allow in-person instruction.

More than 173,000 people have died of the coronavirus in the United States. We learn more about one of those who died of COVID-19 in July—Su Thao, a Hmong businessman and filmmaker who had a profound impact on thousands of others. Also on the program, Smart Share Housing Solutions helps people in San Luis Obispo County by matching homeowners who have extra bedrooms with those looking for an affordable place to live. Chuck Davison of Visit SLO CAL discusses the state of tourism on the Central Coast.

David Rodriguez/Bay City News Foundation

Eleazar Sosa, a vineyard manager in Greenfield, oversees a crew of about 20 who monitor the vines for disease, control irrigation and harvest the wine grapes in late summer. This year, he and his coworkers are also confronting a new challenge: the growing threat of coronavirus.

SLO County YMCA

The cities of San Luis Obispo and Grover Beach are launching programs to help working parents with child care and schooling during the pandemic.

Smoky skies are hard on health and businesses

Aug 20, 2020
Angel M Russell

Smoky skies continue to blanket the Central Coast, creating unhealthy air quality in San Luis Obispo, Monterey and Santa Barbara counties that is affecting health and business.

The COVID-19 pandemic has affected day-to-day life for nearly everyone around the world, and negatively affected many people’s mental health. For people already suffering from mental illness and substance use disorders, it has created new barriers to care and treatment. Behavioral health clinicians have found and are continuing to look for new ways to access and work with these individuals during this time of social distancing, and many of have found that this creative hard work is beginning to pay off, evidenced by client buy-in to treatment and anecdotal stories of personal success, improved relationships, etc.

One of the many untold effects of the COVID-19 pandemic is the toll it is taking on patients without the coronavirus. During the initial wave of COVID cases, staying home was universally urged to protect people from exposure to the infection, but, in the process, many people ignored serious medical issues that should have sent them to their provider or an emergency room. 

Angel Russell/KCBX

Some hair salon owners throughout California, including ones along the Central Coast, plan to reopen their doors August 17, despite orders from the governor and local health officials to remain closed.

We’ll hear from Dr. Gail Newel, Santa Cruz County's public health officer, who discusses a variety of topics—from new evidence on the effectiveness of masks to how the pandemic has affected her daily life. We'll learn about Downtown SLO's efforts to maintain a vital city center during the pandemic from the organization’s CEO Bettina Swigger. The Point San Luis Lighthouse just celebrated its 130th birthday, and while it's closed for actual tours during the pandemic, its history is rich and there are lots of plans for the future. Finally, insects are included in the everyday diet in many parts of the world, and we’ll learn about raising awareness and changing the perception of Americans around eating bugs.

Thomas Wilmer

Correspondent Tom Wilmer visits with Jon Jarosh, Director of Communications at Destination Door County. Jarosh explains how Door County, Wisconsin has cultivated a motivated COVID-aware tourism sector that goes to great lengths to ensure safe social-distancing, wearing masks and promoting safe outdoor dining and activity venues.

Door County has been a favored vacation destination for families across the Midwest for more than a century. Popular outdoor activities include hiking, biking, boating, and family forays at u-pick cherry orchards. Outdoor experiences continue in the midst of winter with snow shoeing, cross country skiing and ice fishing on Sturgeon Bay.

Nurses across the Central Coast demonstrated this week, taking part in a national day of action. The healthcare workers aim to bring attention to the ongoing lack of personal protective equipment, or PPE.

UCSB SRC

Archivists at UC Santa Barbara are documenting the pandemic’s effect on the university’s community. To do so, they’ve asked students, staff, faculty and alumni to send in submissions, without any guidance on form or content.

And so far, UCSB’s Special Research Collections have received nearly 100 submissions.

Edward M. Corpus

Monterey County artists have opened up their workspaces as part of the annual Artists Open Studio Tour over the past three decades. This year, though, those doors will remain closed because of the pandemic. Arts Habitat, which took over as organizer in 2016, has canceled the tour until next summer.

Courtesy of Cayucos Elementary

Some elementary schools in San Luis Obispo County are now filing paperwork trying to get permission to reopen for in-person classes in the fall. It involves asking for a waiver from the county public health department.

Daniel Barboza

FOMAT Medical Research is a clinical research institute in Oxnard, working with the World Health Organization (WHO) to host research on a COVID-19 vaccine.

Angel Russell/KCBX

The fitness industry has taken a huge hit as the state is trying to mitigate the spread of Covid-19.

For two-and-a-half months, Central Coast gyms were closed due to state mandates. Then fitness centers got the green light to open in some counties again in mid-June, only to be told to reclose just a few weeks later.

While you may not be able to leisurely peruse the shelves of your local library right now, it doesn’t mean the library still can’t be your haven during the COVID-19 pandemic. Libraries have quickly changed how, where and when they offer services amongst the continuing pandemic, finding ways to allow the community to access the myriad of valuable resources they have to offer. Join Kris Kington Barker as she speaks with San Luis Obispo County Libraries' Christopher Barnickel, Chase McMunn, Aracelli Astorga and Sharon Coronado as they discuss how County of SLO Public Libraries are working to support communities during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Issues & Ideas: Coin shortage, abalone and a "quarantini" a day

Jul 28, 2020


As most schools continue with distance learning this fall, high school sports will be put on hold until—at least—early next year. KCBX speaks to a local athlete and coach about what the delay means for them.

The COVID-19 pandemic has affected more than five million Americans who make their living in the arts and cultural sector across the U.S. Cancellation of gigs, concerts, openings and engagements to quell the spread of the virus is wreaking havoc on artists, businesses, nonprofits, institutions and individuals of all types. As with other industries, the pandemic is bound to have a severe impact on the financial health of our local arts organizations and individual artists.

Despite the raging COVID-19 pandemic, this is not just an election year, but also a very important year for everyone to participate and be counted as part of the 2020 U.S. Census. Due to the pandemic, both of these civic duties have become more complicated. Join Kris Kington Barker as she speaks in the first half hour with Tommy Gong, San Luis Obispo County Clerk-Recorder, and Michael Latner, Ph.D., Cal Poly political science professor and Kendall Voting Rights Fellow at the Union of Concerned Scientists, as they discuss the integrity of the 2020 election and plans to make voting safe and accessible to everyone. In the second half hour, Kris speaks with representatives from local organizations, who amid COVID-19, are working to prevent an undercount in the 2020 Census within 'hard-to-reach' communities. Guests include Devon McQuade, development and communications coordinator with the 5Cities Homeless Coalition; Brandy Graham, veteran support programs manager with CAPSLO; and Micki Wright, a senior volunteer services representative.

Greta Mart/KCBX

After three days on the state’s watchlist for COVID-19 cases, San Luis Obispo County is now back under the kind of closure orders experienced in March, April and May. All bars are closed. Starting Thursday, gyms, churches, most offices, salons and malls are ordered to close down all indoor operations.

Angel Russell/KCBX

Despite weeks of assurances from county and state officials, not everybody who wants a COVID-19 test can get one, especially now. On July 9 San Luis Obispo County’s health officer said there’s not enough capacity to meet the huge increase in demand for testing, and she asked people with no symptoms to not seek a test at this time, only essential workers.

California faced a crisis in affordable housing even before COVID-19, so how has the pandemic affected the situation? During shelter at home orders, and the continued restrictions, many low-income tenants have faced job and income loss that have prevented them from paying rent, buying food and accessing health care.  Join Fred Munroe as he speaks with John Fowler, president and CEO with Peoples’ Self-Help Housing (PSHH) and Morgen Benevedo, PSHH's director of multifamily housing, as they discuss how COVID-19 is affecting affordable housing, including issues such as increase in need, resident safety, a decrease in production and capitalization problems for the future. Plus, what role the government has, and strategies for increasing affordable housing amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

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