La Jolla News Nuggets: COVID-19; beach crowds; ‘Munk’s Map’; more

COVID-19 clip art

Scripps convenes COVID-19 vaccine committee

Scripps Health has established a committee to recommend which COVID-19 vaccine or vaccines to consider offering for Scripps patients, employees and physicians.

The team of Scripps’ medical, pharmaceutical and vaccine experts will begin meeting this week and will review and analyze leading COVID-19 vaccine candidates.

“It’s our responsibility as a health care provider to be the voice of science and truth,” said Chris Van Gorder, Scripps Health president and chief executive. “There is a strong potential for public opinion to differ on which COVID-19 vaccine is best, with some people lacking faith in any of them. Our goal, through this committee, is to provide recommendations on a vaccine or vaccines based on an objective review of the available medical data and clinical information.”

Researchers worldwide are testing 48 COVID-19 vaccines in clinical trials on humans, and at least 93 preclinical vaccines are under investigation in animals. Nine vaccines are in Phase 3 large-scale efficacy testing. Expectations are that the U.S. Food and Drug Administration could approve a vaccine by the end of the year.

UCSD gets OK to launch cellphone coronavirus notification system

Students and staff members at UC San Diego will soon be able to get cellphone notifications telling them whether
they’ve come in contact with someone who has the COVID-19 coronavirus.

Health officials at the university have worked for months to persuade the state to sign off on a pilot program that harnesses a cellphone’s Bluetooth capabilities to quickly identify people who have come in contact with the virus. On Sept. 11, the state gave UCSD and UC San Francisco the go-ahead to test the technology.

UC San Diego officials are working out the details of the program but hope to have it ready by the time school starts Sept. 28. The university estimates it will enroll 38,000 students for the fall quarter, and while most students will be taking their classes online, about 11,000 graduate and undergraduate students are planning to live on campus.

Apple cellphone users who decide to participate can enable the exposure notifications system recently put into iPhone
operating systems, while Android cellphone users will need to download an app that Google will generate for participating health agencies.

Local lifeguards still prepared for larger crowds

With Labor Day having come and gone, San Diego lifeguards normally would expect a slowdown in local beach crowds. But this year is different.

“With the expectation that schools [get] out midday [with online learning], we may have some increased beach crowds as long as the weather continues to be warm,” marine safety Capt. Maureen Hodges said during the La Jolla Shores Association’s Sept. 9 meeting.

The Lifeguard Services Division of the San Diego Fire-Rescue Department is still staffing beaches on weekends according to the expected higher numbers, Hodges said, and it has made an additional request to the city to add staff “to cover what we think is going to be the busier afternoons with schools getting out early.”

Asked whether people are following COVID-19 regulations, Hodges said it depends on the beach. Over Labor Day weekend, “space was tight; there were a lot of people out,” she said. “The social distancing part of it was difficult. Masks are hit and miss, but we’re doing our best to set the example out there.”

La Jolla native named one of ‘Champions for Change’

Kevin Barber, 19, who grew up in La Jolla, attended The Bishop’s School and now is at Santa Clara University, has been named one of CNN’s “Champions for Change” this year.

He and the nine other recipients will be recognized in a CNN special being broadcast at 10 p.m. Saturday, Sept. 19.

In 2018, Barber started a homeless work program in San Diego called Wheels of Change. Its clients help clean up the community, earning $13 an hour. The program is now run by Alpha Project, but Barber continues to be involved with fundraising and helping to feed homeless people, according to a news release.

Drive-in movies coming at Westfield UTC

The Westfield UTC shopping center will host a drive-in movie series with physically distanced parking spaces.

Doors will open at 6 p.m., and all movies will start at 7 p.m. at 4545 La Jolla Village Drive, in the parking lot by Macy’s along Genesee Avenue.

Here is the schedule:

  • Friday, Sept. 18: “Knives Out”
  • Saturday, Sept. 19: “Ferris Bueller’s Day Off”
  • Friday, Sept. 25: “The Man From U.N.C.L.E.”
  • Saturday, Sept. 26: “Yesterday”

Tickets start at $30 per car for general admission. VIP tickets are available for $50 per car and include priority parking and a gift card for any of Westfield UTC’s shops or restaurants. All proceeds will benefit the San Diego International Film Festival’s community programs.

Learn more at

‘Munk’s Map’ dedication coming Oct. 16

Late La Jolla oceanographer Walter Munk
Late La Jolla oceanographer Walter Munk will be remembered with the Map of the Grand Canyons of La Jolla Educational Plaza, which is set for dedication Oct. 16.

The dedication for the installation of the Map of the Grand Canyons of La Jolla Educational Plaza is set for 3 p.m. Friday, Oct. 16, in Kellogg Park, Mary Coakley Munk told the La Jolla Shores Association at its Sept. 9 meeting.

“I’m hoping it will be a nice event,” she said, noting that the dedication will be held close to her late husband Walter Munk’s 103rd birthday, which falls on Oct. 19.

The map project, which features more than 100 lifesize mosaics of local marine life, along with local beaches, dive sites, surf spots and Marine Protected Area and State Marine Reserve boundaries, is meant to commemorate the legacy of Walter Munk, a Scripps Institution of Oceanography scientist who died in 2019 after an 80-year career.

Funding for the project came through the Walter Munk Foundation for the Oceans and Friends of La Jolla Shores.

Volunteers are invited to clean up their communities

The 36th annual San Diego County Clean Up Day is going virtual this month, inviting participants to safely protect and clean up streets, parks, canyons and beaches in their communities throughout the day on Saturday, Sept. 26.

Volunteers must register at to record their cleanup totals and be counted in the effort. Once registered, volunteers will be sent a link to a survey to report their cleanup data.

NOAA grants Scripps Oceanography $410,000 for cloud research

Scientists at UC San Diego’s Scripps Institution of Oceanography have received a $410,000 award from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration to study low cloud “hot spots,” one of the largest uncertainties in climate change models and predictions.

The Scripps team will focus on specific regions of the globe where the variability of clouds can indicate how sensitive Earth’s climate is to increased carbon dioxide concentrations. This “climate sensitivity” is generally defined as how much Earth’s global mean surface temperature would warm up if CO2 concentrations were doubled compared with pre-industrial levels.

— Compiled by La Jolla Light staff