COVID-19

Courtesy Ryan Joiner

California is giving the green light for movie theaters and gyms to reopen as of June 12, but not all businesses will be ready. KCBX News spoke to local gym and movie theater owners to find out what the hold up is and what it’ll be like for customers once doors reopen.

The use of face coverings or masks has become one of the biggest debates nationwide during the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. Santa Barbara and Monterey counties have adopted a mandatory mask ordinance. But in San Luis Obispo County, it’s up to individual towns to decide.

Tom Hilton/Flickr

The owners of San Luis Obispo County nail salons and tattoo parlors should start getting ready to reopen on or after June 19. That's the latest message from county health officials about the personal services sector.

E Walden Bohnet

High school graduation ceremonies continue around the Central Coast this week, although in a very different manner than in years past. 

On this episode of Issues & Ideas, emergency relief for undocumented immigrants recently became available in California, but demand outweighs the supply of cash. We’ll learn how the California NanoSystems Institute at UCSB is repurposing 3D printers to make face shields for healthcare workers. And hear about the challenges facing small farmers in California due to COVID-19. We get an update on First 5 SLO County from director Wendy Wendt; the independent public agency, created by California’s Proposition 10, uses a tax on tobacco products to fund programs for children through age five and their families. The city manager of Morro Bay, Scott Collins, talks about having to discourage vacationers due to the pandemic. And finally, we’ll learn about an award-winning book by UCSB professor emeritus Tonia Shimin featuring the art of her late father, Symeon Shimin.

COVID-19 is disproportionately impacting vulnerable populations, including the LGBTQ+ community. According to research, lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer Americans are more likely to become unemployed as a result of the coronavirus epidemic. Join host Kris Kington-Barker as she speaks with guests Michelle Call and David Weisman of the Gay & Lesbian Alliance (GALA), and Jamie Woolf, chair of Tranz Central Coast, as they discuss how the COVID-19 pandemic is impacting the LGBTQ+ community of the Central Coast, and how Pride is shifting it’s a celebration this year. 

Angel Russell/KCBX

Retail, hair salons and in-restaurant dining services are reopening in San Luis Obispo County after weeks of closure, but the pandemic has changed the landscape of business as usual.

Child care is essential to the economic vitality of any city. Unfortunately, like many businesses and organizations, child care providers are suffering greatly from the COVID-19 pandemic.  Join Kris Kington-Barker as she speaks with several guests—Shana Paulson, children services manager with CAPSLO Child Care Resource Connection; Raechelle Bowlay, CAPSLO'S quality early learning manager and Child Care Planning Council coordinator; Monica Grant, CEO of the San Luis Obispo County YMCA; Kim Love, director of Bright Life Playschool in San Luis Obispo; and Jamie Sanbonmatsu, director of Valley View Children’s Center in Arroyo Grande and member of the We Are the Care Initiative—about the continuing need for child care in the community and the challenges providers face in re-opening amid the pandemic:

On this episdoe of Issues & Ideas, we hear from a SLO County infectious disease physician who is a key player in paving the way out of the pandemic shutdown; and from SLO supervisor Lynn Compton, who gives an update on the current status of the county's reopening plan. A founder of Lighthouse Atascadero talks about how the nonprofit has helped young people fight addiction since 1994, and how its programs have grown over the years. We’ll follow Father Ian as he hunts for local wild yeast in “Playing With Food,” capturing some yeast near a patch of poison oak and baking with it. And finally, we learn more about a fatal shark attack earlier in the month in waters off a state beach near Watsonville.

Join Kris Kington Barker as she speaks with Heidi McPherson, CEO with the Community Foundation of San Luis Obispo County, Garret Olson, COVID-19 emergency operations manager with the SLO Food Bank, Lisa Fraser, executive director with the LINK Family Resource Center and the Center for Family Strengthening, and Janna Nichols, executive director with the Five Cities Homeless Coalition. They will be talking about the struggle of nonprofits to help meet the basic needs of the community as well as what a global depression could mean for their organizations and the local populations they help.

Greta Mart/KCBX

The news many have been looking forward to finally came Monday: California’s governor announced it is now up to individual counties to proceed on reopening after the two-month pandemic shutdown. San Luis Obispo County officials say the county is ready to go.

Thomas Wilmer

Correspondent Tom Wilmer talks with the city manager of Morro Bay, Scott Collins, about the local government's response to the pandemic shutdown. As a popular seaside travel destination in recent decades, the economic health of Morro Bay has been dependent on tax revenue generated by hotel occupancy, retail sales, and rental income from waterfront business leases—all of which have plummeted due to COVID-19. For the first time in modern history, Morro Bay has instituted reverse tourism promotions to discourage visitors and vacationers.

Doug McKnight/KAZU

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Over the next three months, tens of thousands of migrant farmworkers will converge on the Central Coast to do something deemed essential in the time of COVID-19, harvest our food. The speciality crops farmed locally, like strawberries and leafy greens, require a lot of hand labor. But the dramatic increase in population could trigger a surge in COVID-19 cases.

In contrast to decades of positioning itself as a travel destination, this week San Luis Obispo County started airing online ads aimed at discouraging tourism from the Central Valley and elsewhere. On Friday, county officials went a step further.

 

Santa Barbara County’s COVID-19 cases now total 1,376, including 895 cases from the  correctional complex in Lompoc, a federal prison. The northern part of the county continues to be the hardest hit by the virus, with 190 cases in the city of Santa Maria, compared to just 69 case within the city of Santa Barbara. As we have also seen nationally, the virus has had a disproportionate impact on the county’s racial and ethnic minorities. According to a recent presentation by the Santa Barbara Public Health Department, Hispanics make up less than half of the county’s population, but account for over 60% of the confirmed COVID-19 cases. What is the county doing to control the spread of the virus? Are their efforts to flatten the curve working? What is being done to assist the Latino community to prevent virus spread, access health care and care for basic needs?

CSU officials say virtual learning to continue into fall terms

May 12, 2020
Andrew Epperson

Cal Poly students may not be heading back to the San Luis Obispo campus in the fall, as there will be no in-person classes at California State University’s 23 schools next semester, according to the system's chancellor.

Nursing homes have been ravaged by coronavirus throughout the nation. Data shows that people who reside or work in long-term care facilities have been disproportionately affected by COVID-19, and a new report shows that as of April 23, 2020 there have been over 10,000 reported deaths due to COVID-19 in long-term care facilities (including residents and staff), in the 23 states that publicly report death data, representing 27% of deaths due to COVID-19 in those states.  So how is the Central Coast responding to the threat of COVID-19 in local long-term care facilities? What is being done to protect both residents and employees? And what is the future of nursing homes?

On this episode of Issues & Ideas, the SLO Chamber of Commerce's Jim Dantona speaks with SLO County health officer Dr. Penny Borenstein—not just about public health issues, but Borenstein's personal path to the job that, before the current pandemic, was not often in the public spotlight. We visit with a retired pilot, Captain Karen Kahn, one of the first female pilots hired to fly with a commercial airline, and learn more about a nonprofit—where Kahn is a mentor—that teaches Santa Barbara-area youth all aspects of aviation and, ultimately, how to fly a plane. Tom Wilmer speaks with Christine Johnson, executive director of the Central Coast Aquarium, about the Avila aquarium and the planned Morro Bay expansion. Finally, Monterey County organizations pick up the phone to check in with people during the shutdown. 

With the national shutdown, many aspects of our lives have been drastically disrupted.  But for those  looking forward to a special event like a wedding, graduation or new job, the loss of the celebration associated with this life event can be devastating.  Tune into this conversation with the Reluctant Therapist, Elizabeth Barrett, about dealing with—and helping others to navigate—the disappointment and even grief associated with not being able to experience and mark these major milestones. 

San Luis Obispo County officials have released a framework for reopening the county—called the START guide—emphasizing that it's a draft outline. At times contradictory, nevertheless the guide is designed to “give our business partners, our organizations, places of worship the best ideas about how they can begin planning in the days and weeks to come,” said the county’s health officer.

Courtesy Laura Foxx/Kevin Harris

The Central Coast is known for its many gifted artists—across the spectrum of mediums and disciplines—who choose to live and create here. Via Zoom, we checked in with two local performance artists to learn how they are adapting during the pandemic shutdown, and the shuttering of their livelihoods.

UNESCO recently reported 192 countries had closed schools and colleges around the world due to the COVID-19 pandemic, affecting more than 90% of the world’s learners; around 1.6 billion children and young people.

SLO County

On Wednesday, the name of San Luis Obispo County’s reopening plan was revealed—the START guide, or ‘Steps To Adapt and Reopen Together.’ Expected to be released Friday, county health officer Dr. Penny Borenstein said it’s not going to be a set-in-stone plan.

Courtesy army.mil

It’s been seven weeks since Central Coast schools closed in-person classrooms and began teaching students virtually. The change was radical and abrupt.

Elizabeth Barrett explores ways we can deal with the current isolation caused by the pandemic and stay at home orders. Learn about Acceptance Commitment Therapy in this conversation with the Reluctant Therapist.

During this time of sheltering-in-place, managing addictions may seem like an impossible task. Yet our mental and physical health, our relationships, and futures depend on our ability to make peace with our greatest challenges. The Reluctant Therapist, Elizabeth Barrett, and her guest Dr. Michael McGee talk about coping with addictions through the time of COVID-19.

Courtesy of Festival Mozaic

A popular, summertime Central Coast festival announced Thursday it is postponing until 2021. The management of another major SLO County event is taking a more wait-and-see approach on whether to go ahead as usual. Stay-at-home orders have laid waste to all planned concerts, festivals and events this spring, and now summertime ones are falling like dominoes—all triggered by the pandemic.

Many nonprofits are already feeling the strain of the COVID-19 pandemic: increases in demand for services, health and safety concerns, and volunteer shortages. Canceled fundraising events, shutdowns and an economy in turmoil due to the crisis have led to a decrease in revenue. These effects are likely to continue for some time and may even worsen, while for many nonprofits, the needs of their clients continue to grow. How are local nonprofits meeting the demands? How will they survive when they are most needed? What resources are available to help?

Greta Mart/KCBX

18 San Luis Obispo County jail inmates have been released from custody without having to pay any bail, as of April 17. That’s due to a statewide effort to quickly reduce jail populations to prevent the spread of COVID-19. But the number of inmates eligible for release is a small percentage of the jail's total population. 

SLO County

As part of the recent federal stimulus funding, Congress gave $10 billion dollars to the Federal Aviation Administration. The FAA is now tasked with dolling out that money to airports across the country to help them weather a near-shut down of air travel and commerce.

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