Open Gate Kitchen in Costa Mesa dishes out hope, opportunity

When he lost his dad at the age of 13, Michael Rodriguez looked for ways to fill the void.

He turned to the neighborhood gang for support, and he had already begun experimenting with drugs a short time after. He was selling drugs just to get by.

“Once my dad died when I was 13, I wanted that love,” said Rodriguez, 25, of Stanton. “They all showed me love. I felt loved after my dad died, and I started hanging around with the wrong people, started using drugs, tried heroin after he died.

“I tried it a few times. I wasn’t addicted to it, but I liked the feeling. It kept me away from reality … about losing my dad.”

One thing led to another. By 14, Rodriguez was intermittently homeless. By 17, Rodriguez found a drug he had promised his dad he would never do in methamphetamine.

“I just cracked,” he recalled. “I tried it out. It was bad for a few years.”

Rodriguez said a family friend told him about a culinary school in Costa Mesa called Open Gate International, and it has become his way out.

The program takes aim at equipping people from vulnerable life situations with a skill set to find gainful employment, but also the life skills to make good choices.

Both Rodriguez and his stepbrother, David Lopez, 30, work for Open Gate Kitchen, the restaurant and proving ground for the culinary school’s graduates.

Open Gate International, an Orange County-based culinary school and nonprofit organization, has produced 138 graduates since it was launched in January 2017.

Guarded as one with his past might be, Rodriguez recounted that he would seldom talk to anyone when he entered the program. He learned to love it and said that Open Gate marked his first graduation of any kind, a broad smile showing on his face as he talked about the happiness it brought him.

Rodriguez is married. He has fathered two children from two different women, and he also has a stepdaughter. His outlook on life has improved dramatically. He says he has stayed away from drugs, with his kids serving as the motivation.

“We both lived that life,” Rodriguez said of himself and his stepbrother trying to turn their lives around. “We’re just trying to change now. We’re trying to progress.

“We’re trying to get a house together. From kids doing crimes and going to jail together to now we’re working, getting paychecks, saving.”

Open Gate Kitchen owner and founder Deidre Pujols, the wife of Albert Pujols, at Open Gate Kitchen in Costa Mesa.

Open Gate Kitchen owner and founder Deidre Pujols, the wife of Albert Pujols, at Open Gate Kitchen in Costa Mesa. Pujols’ nonprofit organization takes people from vulnerable life situations and gives them an opportunity to have sustained life success by learning the culinary arts.

(Kevin Chang / Staff Photographer)

Human trafficking had been an issue that Deidre Pujols, 44, a champion for vulnerable populations and the wife of Angels baseball star Albert Pujols, wanted to address. Open Gate International grew out of those efforts.

A trip abroad to several countries for Pujols

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Hope Hicks returned to the White House to pull Trump across the finish line. Then coronavirus hit.

Two days later, the World Health Organization declared the coronavirus a national pandemic.

Since then, the virus has claimed more than 212,000 American lives, tanked the economy and forced millions out of their jobs or school, imperiling the president’s reelection prospects. But it may never have been more palpable for Trump than the moment last week when Hicks took ill — closely foreshadowing his own sickness.

Hicks is rarely seen — her disdain for the spotlight is matched by her loyalty to the man who loves nothing more. But for the president she is ever-present. Whatever her title, her unspoken job description has been to prevent reality from intruding on him. She has managed his moods and counseled him on nearly everything, from the most substantive to the trivial. Until last week, she spent more time with him than almost anyone else outside his family.

“She is trusted because she isn’t driving her own policy agenda. She is looking out for him,” said former White House press secretary Sarah Sanders, who has worked closely with Hicks. “It’s so important for him to have a voice in the room that’s not trying to do anything other than be strictly helpful to him. She is a confidante, an adviser and a strategist.”

But when a reporter broke the news of Hicks’s coronavirus diagnosis last week, it exposed a contagion at the White House that has presented Trump with his biggest challenge at the defining moment of his presidency. It has placed exactly the kind of scrutiny on Hicks that she abhors and put her movements at the center of a conversation about the president’s handling of the nation’s most deadly pandemic in a century.

This story is based on interviews with 12 current and former administration officials or others close to Hicks, many of whom spoke on the condition of anonymity to speak about her and her recent diagnosis.

Hicks had tested negative last Wednesday, the morning after Trump’s first debate with Joe Biden, but she started feeling unwell at a rally in Duluth, Minn., that night. She quarantined herself on Air Force One on the return trip, discreetly enough that other staffers did not know she was ill. When the plane landed, she exited from the rear entrance.

The next morning, Hicks reported for work at the White House and tested positive for the coronavirus. She returned home to begin isolating — but told only the president and a small circle of senior staff, including chief of staff Mark Meadows. Many colleagues, including one aide who had been near her during her potentially contagious period, were enraged when they only learned about it several hours later through the gossip vine or White House contact tracers; two said they would have curtailed their contact with other people and taken a test immediately had they known sooner. Several aides said they suspected there might be a positive case in the West Wing when co-workers started wearing masks, but by the time they learned

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Hope Hicks tests positive for COVID-19, Trump and first lady follow

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President Donald Trump said early Friday that he and first lady Melania Trump have tested positive for the coronavirus. (Oct. 2)

AP Domestic

WASHINGTON — White House adviser Hope Hicks tested positive for the coronavirus, prompting quarantine for President Donald Trump and first lady Melania Trump, who announced they also tested positive later Thursday night.

Hicks tested positive for the coronavirus after she traveled with Trump in the last few days, according to a person familiar with Hicks’ situation.

Trump tweeted that he and the first lady “will begin our quarantine and recovery process immediately.”

Hicks is frequently in contact with the president and was with Trump as he traveled to and from the first presidential debate in Cleveland on Tuesday. 

She appears in a photo deplaning upon arrival in Cleveland, not wearing a protective face mask. Hicks also traveled aboard Marine One, the presidential helicopter, for a Minnesota rally Wednesday.

Trump said in a Thursday night interview on Fox News that he had just taken a coronavirus test and that he and the first lady “spend a lot of time with Hope, and others.”

Bloomberg reported that Hicks was experiencing some symptoms associated with the coronavirus, according to people close to her who were told.

Hicks is the latest of White House officials to test positive for the virus. Previously, Vice President Mike Pence’s press secretary Katie Miller had and recovered from COVID. 

One of Trump’s longest-serving political aides, Hicks was part of the original presidential campaign team that launched in 2015. 

After rising to the job of communications director, Hicks left the White House in 2018 and took a corporate executive job at Fox. In February, the White House announced that Hicks would return as counselor to the president and aide to senior adviser (and Trump son-in-law) Jared Kushner. She has played a key role in communications strategy as Trump seeks re-election.

White House spokesman Judd Deere would not comment on Hicks’ situation but issued a statement saying the administration is taking precautions based on Centers for Disease Control and Prevention guidance. “The President takes the health and safety of himself and everyone who works in support of him and the American people very seriously.” 

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President Donald Trump and Joe Biden clashed over COVID-19, crime and election integrity during the first presidential debate.

USA TODAY

Trump has come under fire for holding rallies that pose

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Trump held indoor fundraiser after WH knew Hope Hicks had COVID-19

  • President Donald Trump attended an indoor fundraiser in New Jersey after White House officials learned his adviser, Hope Hicks, had tested positive for COVID-19, multiple reports said.
  • According to CBS News, a small group of officials knew on Wednesday evening that Hicks had tested positive.
  • Trump attended the indoor fundraiser at his golf club around 1 p.m. EDT on Thursday.
  • It’s unclear when Trump himself learned that Hicks had tested positive and if he knew of her test result before traveling to the fundraiser.
  • The president told Fox News around 9 p.m. EDT Thursday that he got tested for the virus and was awaiting results. Bloomberg News broke the news about Hicks’ diagnosis about an hour earlier.
  • Visit Business Insider’s homepage for more stories.

President Donald Trump attended an indoor fundraiser with his supporters on Thursday even after White House officials knew that his adviser, Hope Hicks, had tested positive for the novel coronavirus, CNN and CBS News reported.

CBS News’ Weijia Jiang tweeted that Hicks tested positive on Wednesday, and that White House aides knew about this by Wednesday evening. CNN’s Kaitlan Collins tweeted that “a small group” of White House officials “were aware” of Hicks’ positive test by Thursday morning.

Trump attended a roundtable and fundraiser at his New Jersey golf club at 1 p.m. EDT Thursday. It is not clear if he wore a mask or practiced social distancing at the events. The coronavirus typically spreads via droplets from an infected person, and a majority of infections occur indoors.

Bloomberg News first reported Thursday evening that Hicks had tested positive for the virus, which causes the disease known as COVID-19. Shortly after, around 9 p.m. EDT, Trump told Fox News’ Sean Hannity that both he and First Lady Melania Trump had just been tested and were awaiting results.

The president tweeted shortly before 1 a.m. EDT Friday that he and Melania had tested positive and “will begin our quarantine and recovery process immediately.”

According to CNN, Hicks was feeling symptomatic as early as Wednesday, when she traveled mask-less with the president and several White House and campaign aides to Minnesota for an indoor fundraiser and an outdoor rally.

She also traveled to Tuesday’s presidential debate in Ohio with Trump, his aides, and several family members aboard Air Force One on Tuesday.

Hicks was pictured not wearing a mask, and the president’s advisers and family — including Melania Trump, Tiffany Trump, Laura Trump, Ivanka Trump, and Kimberly Guilfoyle — were also mask-less for at least some if not the whole time during the debate.

CNN’s Collins reported that Hicks “started to quarantine” on Wednesday when she felt symptoms, but that it’s not clear what that means because “there’s not a lot of room” on Air Force One.

The White House has said that its policy during the pandemic is that every morning, anyone who arrives to meet with the president is tested.

It’s not clear if the president was tested when Hicks and other White House officials

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Trump will quarantine after Hope Hicks tests positive for COVID-19

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President Donald Trump and Joe Biden clashed over COVID-19, crime and election integrity during the first presidential debate.

USA TODAY

WASHINGTON — President Donald Trump announced he and the first lady are beginning to quarantine after White House adviser Hope Hicks tested positive for the coronavirus.

Hicks tested positive for the coronavirus after she traveled with Trump in the last few days, according to a person familiar with Hicks’ situation.

Trump said he and Melania Trump took coronavirus tests and were awaiting results.

She is frequently in contact with the president and was with Trump as he traveled to and from the first presidential debate in Cleveland on Tuesday. 

She appears in a photo deplaning upon arrival in Cleveland, not wearing a protective face mask. Hicks also traveled aboard Marine One, the presidential helicopter, for a Minnesota rally Wednesday.

Trump said in a Thursday night interview on Fox News that he had just taken a coronavirus test and expects to have results soon.

“She tested positive,” Trump said on Fox News.   

“Whether we quarantine or whether we have it, I don’t know,” Trump said. 

“We spend a lot of time with Hope, and others,” Trump said, adding that the first lady has also taken a test. 

Bloomberg reported that Hicks was experiencing some symptoms associated with the coronavirus, according to people close to her who were told.

Hicks is the latest of White House officials to test positive for the virus. Previously, Vice President Mike Pence’s press secretary Katie Miller had and recovered from COVID. 

One of Trump’s longest-serving political aides, Hicks was part of the original presidential campaign team that launched in 2015. 

After rising to the job of communications director, Hicks left the White House in 2018 and took a corporate executive job at Fox. In February, the White House announced that Hicks would return as counselor to the president and aide to senior adviser (and Trump son-in-law) Jared Kushner. She has played a key role in communications strategy as Trump seeks re-election.

White House spokesman Judd Deere would not comment on Hicks’ situation but issued a statement saying the administration is taking precautions based on Centers for Disease Control and Prevention guidance. “The President takes the health and safety of himself and everyone who works in support of him and the American people very seriously.” 

Trump has come under fire for holding rallies that pose

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Coronavirus live updates: Hope Hicks tests positive for coronavirus

A woman with a skull base defect was found to have a spinal fluid leak after getting a nasal swab test for the coronavirus, according to a new study, in what researchers say is the first such case.

After getting a coronavirus test before an elective hernia surgery, a woman in her 40s started experiencing a headache, nausea, light sensitivity and drainage of clear fluid from one side of her nose, Christopher Blake Sullivan, a physician at the University of Iowa Hospitals and Clinics, told The Washington Post.

“We were able to identify that she had a spinal fluid leak, called a cerebrospinal fluid leak,” said Sullivan, the study’s lead author.

“What is the likely reason that happened is she had nasopharyngeal swab testing done for covid,” he said, referring to coronavirus tests done with a long nasal swab.

Jarrett Walsh, an assistant professor at the University of Iowa and a study co-author, said the woman had a predisposing condition of intracranial hypertension, which is increased pressure in the fluid space around her brain, which led to the formation of a sac of brain fluid and tissue that bulged down into the sinus cavity.

“We presume the nasal swab was targeted in the wrong direction and may have punctured that sac that was hanging into her nose, thus causing the fluid leak,” Walsh told The Post.

In the article, the researchers write that “the swab itself did not result in a violation of the bony skull base, but rather the invasive test” penetrated the area with the preexisting defect.

Sullivan said the patient, who had also had a sinus surgery about two decades earlier, was probably in a “higher risk category for getting covid testing.”

Still, Walsh said this is a “very rare occurrence.” Even for people with similar preexisting conditions or who have had sinus or skull base surgery, “your risk of having this happen is exceedingly low.”

The researchers said the findings signal a need for better training on safely conducting nasal and nasopharyngeal swab testing, especially for high-risk groups. The study was published Thursday in the medical journal JAMA Otolaryngology — Head & Neck Surgery.

Sullivan said that if people know they are in a higher-risk category — such as if they have had a prior sinus or skull base surgery, or if they have a known skull base defect — they can tell their health-care provider before they get a coronavirus test.

“Maybe that subset of patients … instead of just going through a drive-through testing center, those people should be looked at closer, referred to a higher level of care,” he said.

The study did not provide the results of her coronavirus test.

Sullivan said the woman’s skull base defect was repaired in the operating room and she recovered well from the procedure.

“As far as I know, probably at least a month or two out from that surgery, she’s doing pretty well,” he said.

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Top Trump Aide Hope Hicks Tests Positive for Coronavirus | Political News

By ZEKE MILLER and JILL COLVIN, Associated Press

WASHINGTON (AP) — Hope Hicks, one of President Donald Trump’s closest aides, has tested positive for the coronavirus after spending time in close proximity to him this week.

Hicks, who serves as counselor to Trump and traveled with him to a rally Wednesday, tested positive Thursday, according to an administration official, who spoke on condition of anonymity to discuss private health information. She is the most senior White House official to test positive so far.

The White House did not immediately respond to multiple questions about the last time Trump was tested and whether he and other staffers who spent time with Hicks in recent days will be asked to quarantine. But it does not appear that Trump intends to. He traveled to New Jersey Thursday for a fundraiser. His social media director Dan Scavino and press secretary Kayleigh McEnany, who were originally set to join him on the trip, were replaced at the last minute by other aides.

The positive test is yet another reminder that the virus continues to spread, even as Trump has tried desperately to pretend it no longer poses a danger. Since the beginning, he, the White House and his campaign have played down the threat and refused to abide by basic public health guidelines — including those issued by his own administration — such as wearing masks in public and practicing social distancing. Instead, Trump has continued to hold campaign rallies that draw thousands of supporters. The virus has killed more than 200,000 Americans and infected more than 7 million nationwide.

In a statement, White House spokesman Judd Deere said the president “takes the health and safety of himself and everyone who works in support of him and the American people very seriously.”

“White House Operations collaborates with the Physician to the President and the White House Military Office to ensure all plans and procedures incorporate current CDC guidance and best practices for limiting COVID-19 exposure to the greatest extent possible both on complex and when the President is traveling,” Deere said.

Hicks traveled with the president multiple times this week, including aboard Marine One, the presidential helicopter, and on Air Force One to a rally in Minnesota Wednesday, and aboard Air Force One to Tuesday night’s first presidential debate in Cleveland.

Hicks is one of the president’s most trusted and longest-serving aides, having worked as spokesperson for his 2016 campaign. She originally served as White House as communications director, and re-joined the administration this year as an adviser ahead of the election. Her positive test was first reported by Bloomberg News on Thursday evening. She did not respond to a request for comment.

Multiple White House staffers have tested positive for the virus, including Katie Miller, Vice President Mike Pence’s press secretary, national security adviser Robert O’Brien, and one of the president’s personal valets.

After earlier positive cases close to the president, the White House instituted a daily testing regimen for the president’s senior aides.

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White House Adviser Hope Hicks Tests Positive for COVID-19 After Traveling With Trump

Hope Hicks, one of President Trump’s closest confidantes, has tested positive for COVID-19, Bloomberg reports. She traveled with the commander in chief to campaign rallies in Minnesota and Ohio this week, as well as to Tuesday’s presidential debate, and she was seen in photos both with and without a face covering.

A White House spokesman said safety protocols were in place to protect the president despite members of his circle contracting the virus. “The president takes the health and safety of himself and everyone who works in support of him and the American people very seriously,” spokesman Judd Deere said in a statement to Bloomberg. “White House Operations collaborates with the physician to the President and the White House Military Office to ensure all plans and procedures incorporate current CDC guidance and best practices for limiting Covid-19 exposure to the greatest extent possible, both on complex and when the president is traveling.”

There was reportedly no evidence that the commander in chief had contracted the virus. According to The New York Times, White House officials have been aware since Wednesday evening that Hicks had contracted the virus.

Hicks, who is said to be showing symptoms and was quarantined on Air Force One while traveling back from Minnesota, is the latest in a growing circle around the president to contract the new coronavirus—Mike Pence’s press secretary tested positive in May, as did Trump’s own valet. Others include National Security Adviser Robert O’Brien, a Marine One pilot, a White House cafeteria worker, and multiple Secret Service agents.

Trump has publicly mocked the use of face masks as a protective measure against COVID-19 despite the consensus of public health officials, including his own advisers, that they effectively slow the virus. He himself wears one infrequently, and he has poked fun at former Vice President Joe Biden for donning one. Against the advice of public health officials, he has hosted indoor campaign rallies in recent weeks, frequently shrugging off concerns that the events could exacerbate the pandemic by joking that the rallies count as “peaceful protests.”

Trump on Thursday changed plans for an upcoming campaign rally in Wisconsin, opting not to hold the event in La Crosse after opposition from local officials who were concerned about a spike in COVID-19 cases. Instead, the rally will now go ahead in Janesville, a town located about 175 miles away that is not considered a “red zone” for the virus.

The virus has killed more than 200,000 Americans and infected over 7 million.

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2020 Election Live Updates: Hope Hicks,Top Trump Adviser, Has Virus and Is Quarantined

Here’s what you need to know:

Credit…Andrew Harnik/Associated Press

Hope Hicks, one of President Trump’s most senior advisers, has tested positive for the coronavirus, three people familiar with the matter said Thursday night.

Ms. Hicks is the closest person to the president known to have contracted the virus. She traveled with Mr. Trump to the presidential debate in Ohio on Tuesday and accompanied him aboard Air Force One to Minnesota for a campaign rally on Wednesday night.

Officials at the White House have known since Wednesday evening that she had the virus. Her condition was first reported by Bloomberg News, which also said that she had been quarantined on the flight home. It was unclear when she took the test that resulted in a positive diagnosis.

A White House spokesman, Judd Deere, would not comment directly on her condition. “The president takes the health and safety of himself and everyone who works in support of him and the American people very seriously,” Mr. Deere said. “White House Operations collaborates with the Physician to the President and the White House Military Office to ensure all plans and procedures incorporate current C.D.C. guidance and best practices for limiting Covid-19 exposure to the greatest extent possible both on complex and when the president is traveling.”

Ms. Hicks has frequently been seen traveling without a mask, however, a White House official said that she has been one of the few aides to periodically wear masks in meetings.

Credit…Al Drago for The New York Times

Gov. Greg Abbott of Texas issued a proclamation on Thursday ordering counties to offer only one location for voters to drop off mail-in ballots in person.

Several counties — including the state’s two largest, Harris County (which includes Houston) and Dallas County — had opened or planned to open satellite drop-off locations in addition to their central election offices. Those satellite locations must close as of Friday.

The state’s decision to reduce options for voters to drop off their ballots comes as questions of voting rights, voter suppression and the integrity of the election have emerged as major issues in the 2020 campaign, and it follows disputes over drop boxes in other states, including Ohio and Pennsylvania.

Courts are examining an order by the Ohio secretary of state which, like Mr. Abbott’s, would allow only one drop-off spot per county. In Pennsylvania, Republicans sought to ban drop boxes entirely, but a court rejected their challenge.

In announcing the change in Texas, Mr. Abbott described it as necessary for security. His spokesman did not immediately respond to a request for comment Thursday afternoon about why the governor considered the satellite drop-offs insecure.

“The state of

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Neglected Allison Hill garden will grow food and nurture neighborhood again, organizers hope

Harrisburg residents will get a preview Friday of a soon-to-be restored garden in the Allison Hill neighborhood.

“Our effort is to restore the entire area and return the whole thing into a functional use,” said Chris Nafe, the city’s sustainability coordinator. “We’re working on gathering resources to make it happen.”

Members of the Greenhouse Working Group have been spending hours preparing the land, raising funds, and educating nearby neighbors on their efforts to bring back the urban garden and eventually a new greenhouse to provide an option for healthy living in the city.

A virtual town hall on the “Greenhouse Transformation Project” is scheduled at noon Friday. It will be streamed to the city’s Facebook page, where residents’ input is welcomed. Some parts of the garden’s plans will start to take shape on Friday.

Planners said there’s an urgency to grow food now. The plot of land has sat near Reservoir Park off Whitehall Street in the city unused for two decades.

“If there’s one thing that COVID-19 taught us, it’s that we don’t eat healthy in Harrisburg,” said Rafiyqa Muhammad, a member of the group.

Muhammad spearheaded the project. She’s been a member of the city’s Environmental Advisory Council and is the owner of Sustainable Human Environment.

“In 2012, I and small groups of people would come up here to clean it up,” she said. “I had some farmers come up here to test the soil [and also] the USDA do some soil science testing, just to see what the ground was like.”

Through tilling and sampling, she said she feels confident that the garden will not only grow vegetables such as lettuce, cauliflower, and peppers but also produce flowers that are indigenous to the area.

Her vision of it includes garden beds, compost beds, raised garden beds, and more that can regenerate large amounts of fresh vegetables to help feed a good portion of the estimated 10,000 people who live in the Allison Hill area.

An existing greenhouse remains sitting on the land, but Muhammed said she’s not yet specifically seeking funds to build a new one.

“The goal is to make sure this is totally off the grid,” she said. “It shouldn’t be a burden to the city or the residents. Everything should be self-sustaining once it’s done.”

On Tuesday, while walking around the location, Nafe received news that the project received another $25,000 from the Whitt Family Foundation. So far, about $80,000 in cash has been raised toward the garden part of the project.

Around $100,000 has been given to help maintain aspects of the greenhouse for now. But, at least twice that amount is going to have to be raised to build a new greenhouse. Private investors have also given Muhammad the nod but are watching as the project develops.

“We’re looking at the future, the use of the greenhouse building, and restoration,” Nafe said. “Whatever money received so far, though, is going to be focused on the garden beds, and teaching classes to residents

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