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tv   ABC7 News Getting Answers  ABC  February 25, 2021 3:00pm-3:30pm PST

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welcome to our daily program called "getting answers." we ask experts your questions every day at 3:00 to get answers for you in realtime. today we have the sundance film maker straight from the film festival, her documentary "try harder" takes her inside the realities at lowell high school. a student and two teachers featured in the film will also join us. first this week, abc7 has been reporting on a shocking coseite mth fema.t ste in cmufol ntseant are abusedisuseds n t talkgrdri,
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spokesperson for california's office of emergency services. brian, thank you very much for joining us. we appreciate it. >> good afternoon. thank you for having me. >> absolutely. brian, we know that people outside of the targeted communities got ahold of those qr kwoeds thcodes you sent out, enabled them to snag appointments at the coliseum site despite the fact they were not supposed to be eligible. can you explain how that happened? >> yeah, i think our message here is we're in the bay area doing appointments for vaccines for communities who really need them the most. the communities too often left behind in the covid-19. if you received a code through a text message or nontraditional source that's not your health care provider, county, that code is not for you and if you use it, you're actually taking it away from a grandparent, an underlying condition and somebody who probably needs it more than you do. >> we heard some people say hey,
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look, they didn't know they weren't eligible. they saw the code, somebody shared it. do you think the state maybe didn't make it clear enough? the my turn groups the your turn codes were intended for. did that make it easy for the groups to justify it for themselves? >> yes, one of the things we have done since setting up the site is try to work with organizations because there are so many people across the state who may not easily access online tools and get in there and make appointments when they need it. there's a lot of people who, probably through no fault of their own, will receive a code from their pastor, their community leader, someone else who was trying to give it to them under legitimate ces, and it was forwarded to the wider public. and what we're trying to do now is work closely with those communities to understand if you receive a code, and it really is for you and not for someone else, one thing we're excited
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about is as soon as 8:00 tomorrow night, we're going to go to a single code system. if you get a code, brian's code, it's just for you, and if you forward it, it's gone. the system should be rectified within a matter of hours at this point. >> got it. that will certainly prevent this from happening again. just curious, how many community groups did you send those qr codes out to and what type of groups were they? where were they based and who did they serve? >> sure, great question. so we're working directly with over 3,000 community groups, both in oakland in los angeles. these are faith-based groups so churches, synagogues, mosques, be as well as community groups who maybe serve older populations, folks who aren't native english speakers or otherwise may have a challenge to get up online, on the online system themselves. so the idea is we're trying to bridge that divide with trusted messengers, with community volunteers, to help the people who may not be able to get online. i, for instance, helped my own
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parents get online because it's just not their natural situation. so many others in our communities wouldn't feel that comfortable doing that. that was the purpose of the codes in the first place. we're trying to involve them and make sure it's something that works and gets the intended people the shots they need. >> you touched on the challenges of the qr codes for certain communities. my colleague liz croix actually talked with the community group canal alliance and they said the whole idea of using qr codes and relying on tech, that is just going to be inequitable, no matter how you do it for less wealthy, less connected, people with language barriers, as you alluded to. are there other ways to get those appointments out there you might be considering or brainstorming? >> one of the things we're really excited about each of the mobile sites, one in oakland as well as los angeles, actually comes with two mobile clinics. this is a bus that can drive up to a community center, a church, homeless center. any place where there's folks who may not be able to get themselves to the coliseum or moscone center or fixed site.
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so we're not just bringing the people to us, we're going directly to them to help them receive those life-saving vaccines. >> okay. i know, getting out into the community would definitely be a plus because transportation is an issue. we heard from people. look, there have been other problems, right, elsewhere in this kind of patch work system we have in california and the u.s. really in terms of vaccine distribution. abc7 also reported this week that one earth prima concierge compare provider, has given vaccines they were not supposed to. i know they have nothing to do with you. but where is the blue shield party, the third party administrator the administration set up, is that coming on and going tole so solve problems by ensuring uniformity in this approach? >> one thing we learned through this pandemic within it's through ppe, tests, vaccinations, there's not a one size fits all approach.
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so we're working with our health and human services department and federal colleagues to have multiple ways to give people the services they need. we have fema sites and mobile sites doing vaccines. we also have counties independently distributing vaccins on their own, which is what the moscone site is. we also are working with the tpa, which works directly with had, providers. so it's really trying to work directly through all avenues to get vaccines where they need to go. >> brian, i know you're hitting your target at the coliseum site, 6,000 shots a day. as such, i think fema also announced today, right, it's going to hire 80 people for that site. can you talk about that, who's being hired, what will they do and will they get as a perk the vaccine? >> yeah, great question. so we're actual liaring people directly from the community who may have been laid off or otherwise lost work because there's a lot of work to do at these sites. they're big, there are thousands of people coming through. if you have technology skills, you're able to park cars, you're able to do logistics, drive a
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forklift, lots of skills we need and we are hiring in the kmun toy give people who live in oakland and the bay area jobs so they can support us over the coming months. >> we're almost out of time but a lot of people are asking me about this at the coliseum site, what happens to the extra vaccines at the end of the day? if there are no-shows, can people just line up and get them? >> great question. thank you so much for asking. we are a no-way site, trying to use every vaccine at the end of the day. the thing that's important to know, those vaccines are spoken for. we work with the airport and school district and sheriff's office. so if there are extra vaccines at the end of the day, they do have an owner. if you want an appointment, the best thing to do is go online and sign up at the my trn system but no vaccine at the end of the day for folks who may not be eligible. >> brian ferguson, spokesperson for california's oes, thank you so much for making the time to share that information with us.
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we appreciate it. >> thank you so much. bye-bye. >> take care. coming up next -- the filmmaker behind a documentary about san francisco's top-ranked public school, along with a teacher and former students. in the film they talk about the in
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welcome back. lowell high school, the high achieving magnet school in san francisco, has been in the news lately. on hd aamn, admiioo the school will be by lottery instead of by grades and testing. as these headlines were happening, a documentary about the competitive realities at lowell was getting attention at the sundance film festival earlier this month.
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>> good morning, lowell high school. >> so right now the senior class is stressing over college apps. >> if i could, i would probably just take the s.a.t. every single week. >> please begin. >> all right. that is "try harder" the film. joining us today is filmmaker debbie lum, lowell teacher richard shapiro and two alum featured in the film ian wang, and rachel schmidt. hi, hi, everybody, including you, ian, the masochist who says i would take the s.a.t.s every day if i could. i have to ask you about that. but i want to first say congratulations. i know "try harder" was well received at sundance and on several best documentary lists. debbie, you shopped the film four weeks ago over the course of a whole school year. what was your goal? >> i had heard so much about the college admission process and how hard it had become, but in all of the stories in the news,
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there's very little about what the students go through. so we decided to follow the senior class at lowell high school through their last year of high school to find out what it's like, what it's like to sort of this brutal college application process. >> people think they know about lowell because it's been around for so long, right, 170 years, although at the current location only about 70 locally. but what do you think it is people don't know that you discovered? what are the misconceptions, debbie? >> i'm an outsider, i didn't grow up here. so i heard stories about lowell, super competitive, lots of asiai americans, and what i was really surprised by was actually, you know, the sort of zeitgeist that mr. shapiro would talk about, that this sort of lightning in e title of the film munity of is "try harder" and the kids
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really put all of everything into academics and work and that sort of pride in that. and that is part of what you don't hear about when you hear about this sort of, you know, scary high school, scary, competitive high school reputation that lowell also has. >> yes, the real people come through so well in the film. at the same time the film examines just this pressure cooker, right, of being at a highly competitive high school applying to highly competitive colleges. let's check out this clip. >> they're be objectively under more pressure. >> you want to go to college. i want to go to college. i'm actually better than you. >> ian, you're now a senior at emory university in atlanta, right? >> yes, ma'am. >> congratulations. now, what you said there, is that really your mentality, about the s.a.t.s and i have to be better than you?
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watching the film, i get the sense you were the don't worry, be happy guy. do you think you're the norm or the exception at lowell? >> like i would say that i would have to be the exception at lowell because i was really privileged to have parents that really allowed me to follow what i love, like even if it meant not that many a.p. courses or even if it meant i didn't take the s.a.t. every weekend. i thank them for that but it allowed me to compete differently and become better at what i love doing. that extra, that love, like it's the element of love really just helped me come get what i do, which is emory, which is a dream come true, honestly. >> what are you studying? >> right now i'm studying business with an emphasis on strategy and operations and really loving it right now. looking forward to doing teach america next year. just really looking forward to making a my students' lives, like --
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>> like mr. shapiro. i knew you would set that up. mr. shapiro, what do you mean we heard in that clip you said objectively kids at lowell are under more pressure. what are those objective factors? >> well, they're swimming in an ocean that really demands that they are always on their toes and that they make sure they achieve at a very high level. i might add in addition to being a pressure cooker, there's a tremendous amount of love and support amongst the students in terms of helping each other but they bought into the notion that in order to do well in their life, they have to do as well as they can right now and next year and so forth, which is really not such a bad lesson to have. we have two of them here. they see it differently, you
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know, we won't be at odds. but they might have a different point of view. so i think that's what makes lowell students different than other bright students elsewhere. it's this incredible grit, this incredible desire, to do the best she can with the tools that they have. >> if look, not just at lowell but really at any high-achievement school, it could be hard to stay confident. and rachel, you said something in the film i thought was eye opening. here's the clip. >> at lowell it's hard to have a strong sense of self-esteem because you're always comparing yourself to other people. >> rachel, you're a senior at an ivy league school now, brown, right? >> yes. >> so no more self-esteem issues, i take it, that you felt that lowell made it possible to succeed in that -- at an ivy league at a high caliber? >> yes, lowell definitely prepared me for brown, but the
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comparison of you versus your peers is kind of something that you always carry, so it's something i still struggle with a little bit at brown. >> oh, okay. and that began at lowell, right? i do want to ask you, part of that comparison, only 2% of lowell is black, and correct me if i'm wrong but i think that's the latest figure. i know you can only speak about your own experience, but was race a salient factor as you went through lowell or less of a factor that people might think? >> i think it depends. my experience might be different from others. it can be difficult to look around the classroom and not find people that look like you or share the same experiences as you. but a lot of the time the self-esteem factor is not necessarily tied to race. at least from my own experience. >> and so many things aren't,
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right? the things that you share that binds you are probably whether you share the common interest, right, and whether you enjoy the same things. i find that to be the case for so many teens and that kind of gets forgotten oftentimes. one of the things i enjoyed about the film is it dispelled stereotypes. ian, your mom seemed very relaxed and rachel, you had the classic tiger mom, am i right? did you get a chuckle about that? >> yeah, she wears the badge of tiger mom with pride. so she's used to me calling her that. >> there's so much more to talk about with ian and rachel and debbie and mr. shapiro. we're going to take a short break on the air but you can join us at facebook live because we want to talk to ian and rachel especially about handling such challenging stressful times seni
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and we are back with debbie lum, who made the documentary "try harder" about lowell high school in san francisco along
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with teacher richard shapiro, alumni rachel, what do you think about the school board's proposal now to change the name of the school? they put it on hold for now but they will revisit it due to the views of james russell ian? >> i think that it's important because of the history. but the way the school went about it without consulting an historian is problematic and the fact they're doing it during a pandemic, when the i tension of the intention of the school district should be to teach children, that's problematic. in theer yea it's good but the way it was executed should perhaps be scrutinized a little more. >> i think they will, they say, going forward consult historians. rachel, what do you think? >> i think renaming is important as well, but it shouldn't be for
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the purpose of posture, it should be done actually with the intentions of care and understanding, the impact of what that name has on the students that go there. and like ian said, this is a pandemic, so maybe that time spent devoted to renaming could also be better spent supporting students during this really difficult time of online learning. >> and it has been so difficult for so many people, esspefpecia here in san francisco. richard, admission to lowell has always been coveted, fought over, revised and this month changed to a lottery system instead of by merit. the board said the old process, quote, does not reflect the diversity of san francisco unified and perpetuates segregation and exclusion. as a teacher of over 30 years there at lowell, do you think changing the way students are admitted is an effective way to ensure equitable access to good education? >> i don't think an admissions process can ensure equity.
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i think first of all, the admissions process and the name changing was called out by rachel for what it is, it's a lot of posturing. it's about politicizing victimization and trying to sell your own political bill of goods. i think that the notion about trying to diversify lowell is bigger than just lowell and bigger than the admissions process. only 70% of the kids get into lowell on tests and test scores and grades. so that leaves a huge number to get in for other reasons. so then the question is why does this rachel disparity exist at lowell? well, i think part of it fits into the policies that come from the school board itself.
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in other words, when they take -- when they take a school like lowell and the former president school board and current member of the school board said -- i heard on the radio on kgo -- not kgo, on a couple of weeks ago that lowell is a cesspool of racism, you know that's coming from an agenda. and it's for a school board to call its premiere school or any of its schools a cesspool of racism after a great many years trying to work with racism at lowell, it shows their policies haven't worked. so why would they -- why would anybody in their right mind trust what these people are trying to do. they've taken a situation that's
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less than perfect from the society we live in and they've done nothing but make it worse. >> that debate over how to ensure quality education will continue. but, debbie, there's been so much buzz surrounding this film and now that sundance is over, i'm wondering what is next and when can people in the bay area see the film? >> you know, sundance was really great because people here got a little taste of it with the online version of it, but they weren't able to experience it, the preview, and we're excited to have our official san francisco premiere in a few months at campus. so please stay tuned for that. it's going to be amazing to share it with the co >> it's absolutely wonderful. that's in may, you said, may? >> may. >> hey, i got to end with rachel and ian because you went through
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the college application process intact and stronger than ever, and kids who are going through that now waiting for their decisions coming out in the next month or so, what advice would you offer them having now this benefit of wisdom of four years of maturation? we'll start with you. >> i guess the thing that really got me through and the thing i realize will be all right, even in the middle of the application season, it seemed anything but, just having the support of good friends and family, really got me through -- really got me through, which i can't thank them enough. >> okay. so it's all going to be okay in the end. rachel, what do you think? those rejection letters pile up and these days it's email. what advice would you offer seniors right now? >> their opportunity will come for them when it's supposed to come for them. it doesn't feel ig like it at the time when you're going through it but, truly, like ian
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said, things do work out for the best and it actually does, it actually will be working out in the end. >> i think they have for rachel and ian, you guys are fabulous. debbie, congratulations on "try harder." mr. shapiro, i will just say your story line in the documentary had me in tears. if people haven't seen it yet, they really need to. they really need to. you can learn more about the it's back, guys! check it out! what up, people? jack! what are you doing in my car? oh, just sharing my triple bonus jack combo... triple meat and cheese, secret sauce... go ahead, tell them how much it is... it's just $5.99! only at jack in the box. sorry, what were you going to say?
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answering your questions. "world news tonight" is up next. i will he so you back here at 4:00. tonight, the new coronavirus variant spreading here in new york city. also at this hour, the former u.s. gymnastics coach charged, and we just learned tonight he has taken his own life. first the coronavirus. health officials tracking this new strain in new york. what we know so far and pfizer and moderna already working to modify vaccines to target these new variants. and the johnson & johnson one-shot vaccine, will it get emergency authorization tomorrow? and if so, the numbers tonight, how soon will americans be getting it and how many million doses in the coming weeks? a disturbing headline unfolding of former olympics gymnastics coach has died by suicide just hours after being charged with two dozen felonies


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