Morning Report: Inside the ICU Surge

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Morning Report: Inside the ICU Surge

Sharp Chula Vista Medical Center / Photo by Adriana Heldiz

The number of people fighting for their lives against COVID-19 in intensive care in San Diego’s hospitals has never been this high. As of Saturday, there were 1,566 people in hospitals fighting the virus and 380 of them were getting intensive care.

To make room the number of other people in intensive care has gone down. We asked reporter Will Huntsberry to figure out what is going on and what he came back with is an inside look at the tough decisions hospitals are having to make as the surge continues.

Some major surgeries, even organ transplants, are being delayed. Often a patient must recover in an ICU from a major surgery, like a complicated spinal surgery. So if those can wait, they’re waiting.

Huntsberry found a doctor who agreed only to speak anonymously about how strange it is getting as some patients who need intensive care wait in emergency departments.

All the Climate Change Updates You Need in One Post

Though COVID-19 remains perhaps the world’s most pressing crisis, Mackenzie Elmer explained just how precarious San Diego’s position is in a world where tides reach much higher and wildfire risk gets much greater.

Handy lesson for the day: Elmer did a bit of background on how to think about public policy related to climate change. There’s mitigation, adaptation and resilience.

“Mitigation translates to things we do to try and slow down climate change by reducing greenhouse gas production, like riding a bike instead of a car. Adaptation are things we do to prepare and prevent the damage already done by climate change, like building a sea wall to prevent higher ocean waves from slamming into a coastline. And resilience is how we prepare to cope with inevitable extremes from climate change, like providing flood insurance to people living in high-risk areas.”

Distance Learning: So Far, So Bad

The Union-Tribune has an update on how badly students in San Diego Unified are doing: “About 26 percent of high school students failed at least one class at the end of the first quarter this school year, compared to 21 percent around the same time last year, district data show.” The paper notes that the data cuts against Superintendent Cindy Marten’s narrative; she suggested at a school board meeting that fewer students are failing classes than usual.

Gov. Gavin Newsom last week announced a plan offering incentives to school districts that will reopen to in-person instruction in February. But some believe that won’t be enough to make up for learning losses over the last year. Assemblywoman Lorena Gonzalez reacted to the U-T story by emphasizing the need for her bill in the state Legislature that would allow students to re-do the school year if they choose. “In San Diego, and throughout the state, an unconscionable number of students are failing or haven’t completed their coursework. Opening schools won’t magically undo this loss of learning. We will need to provide more for our kids,” she wrote.

San Diego Unified Trustee Richard Barrera told VOSD last month that he’s not on board with the idea of forcing a wholesale re-do of the school year.

In Other News

  • At UC San Diego, students can pick up a COVID-19 test at vending machines.
  • Former San Diego Mayor Kevin Faulconer leveled up his rhetoric against Gov. Gavin Newsom announcing that he was joining an accelerating campaign to recall the governor. Recall supporters need about 1.5 million valid signatures and they report having already gotten more than half of them without having paid signature gatherers yet.
  • The U-T reports that SDSU had to move about 300 bats (the kind that fly) from the old stadium in Mission Valley to new homes.
  • Breaking: Homes in San Diego are even more expensive than before, KPBS reports.
  • The minimum wage in California rose to $14 per hour for businesses with more than 25 employees. But within city of San Diego borders, it’s for all employees.
  • On New Year’s Eve, we rounded up the stories of ours in 2020 that had the most direct impact.

On that note: We hit our fundraising goal for December. It was never a given, and it was a big stretch. We’ll have specific updates soon, but thank you so much to the people who contributed. It’s how we pay for everything but most importantly, having a big, diverse support base gives us the confidence to be independent and irreverent. Happy New Year.

Correction: A reference to Morgan Freeman in an earlier version of this post was deleted. It was a Morgan Freeman but not the actor

The Morning Report was written by Scott Lewis, and edited by Sara Libby.

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