A community volunteer hands a Logan Heights resident a flyer with information on scheduling a COVID-19 vaccine appointment in March 2021. / Photo by Adriana Heldiz

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Unlike, say, the flu, COVID-19 is still mutating rapidly. Exactly how the virus will affect us from month to month is still hard to predict. 

Here’s what’s happening now: People are staying sick and contagious for longer. As long as 14 days, said Shane Crotty, a local immunologist, who spoke to our own Scott Lewis. The virus is more transmissible than ever. There are just as many people in the hospital with COVID symptoms now as there were during summer 2020. 

But far, far fewer people are ending up in the ICU and dying. 

Lewis asked Crotty if it was time to start thinking of COVID like the flu or a cold or whether we should continue thinking of it as a unique and deadly virus.  

“I think it’s somewhere in between,” said Crotty. 

“We are doing OK in terms of lives lost and severe infections but we’re clearly not doing OK with the number of infections and the unpleasantness that causes. The virus has proven to be more wily than we had hoped. I don’t use the word endemic because that’s a term for when we have a stable relationship with a virus. We don’t have that now and won’t until the virus stops having these big jumps,” said Crotty. “To me, it’s still a virus we have to worry about.”

Crotty also discussed some recent findings on Long COVID. Three percent of people who come down with the virus, including those who have been vaccinated, still have symptoms that impair their daily activities three months after first contracting COVID. Yeah, that’s not exactly the flu.

Crotty also discussed a study that used autopsies to determine that people with COVID tended to have vascular problems in their brains. This may be leading to one of the highly technical symptoms of COVID known as brain fog. 

Read their full conversation here

Related: Scientists are seeing a sharp increase in the amount of COVID-19 found in our waste. That usually means a spike in cases will follow given that wastewater has proven to be a good indicator of trends. (KPBS) 

101 Ash St. / Photo by Adriana Heldiz

City Council Approves Controversial Ash Settlement

The city is set to spend $132 million to buy out its 101 Ash St. and Civic Center Plaza leases following the City Council’s Tuesday approval of a controversial settlement with its landlord and lenders behind both deals.

The City Council voted 6-3 to approve the deal pushed by Mayor Todd Gloria and other city leaders who argue it will help the city move forward from the years-long debacle surrounding 101 Ash. City Council members Monica Montgomery Steppe, Vivian Moreno and Marni von Wilpert opposed the arrangement. City Attorney Mara Elliott also spoke out against the deal Tuesday.

The settlement – which our Lisa Halverstadt previously detailed here – means the city will resolve its lawsuits against its landlord and lenders but continue to pursue legal claims against former city real estate adviser Jason Hughes and contractors who worked in the 101 Ash building. It will also still face claims from dozens of workers who once worked in the building. The city evacuated 101 Ash in early 2020 after only a few weeks of occupancy following a series of asbestos violations.

The settlement vote came a few hours after Superior Court Judge Joel Wohlfeil rejected former city attorneys’ request for a temporary restraining order to keep the city from buying out the 101 Ash lease. Lawyers Maria Severson and Mike Aguirre are now set to return to court Aug. 26 to argue for an injunction until the court rules on the merits of their taxpayer lawsuit alleging that the Ash lease – and the plan to pay it out – violate the state’s constitutional debt limit.

The city’s settlement deal incentivizes the city to buy out the Ash lease before Aug. 26. To comply, the city must try to buy out the two leases by Sept. 1. Beginning on Aug. 9, the city will be hit with $7,000 a day in late fees for 101 Ash, and more than $4,300 a day for Civic Center Plaza.

In Other News 

  • NBC 7 reports that San Diego County will soon install a least a dozen Narcan vending machines across the region. 
  • LGBTQ activists in Baja California are speaking out against Gov. Marina del Pilar Avila for vetoing a bill that would have banned conversion therapy. Instead, Avila opted for regulating conversion therapy providers, which allows parents to send their children, as long as they are not forced. (KPBS)
  • San Diego residents are moving to Tijuana in hopes of saving enough money to buy a house north of the border. (New York Times) 
  • The City Attorney’s Office vacated a single-room occupancy hotel because more than 70 people were living in deplorable conditions. (Fox 5)  
  • You might hear a loud boom today, but don’t worry it’s nothing serious. The U.S. Marine Corps Recruit Depot plans on doing some training. (NBC 7) 

The Morning Report was written by Will Huntsberry and Lisa Halverstadt. It was edited by Andrea Lopez-Villafaña. 

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