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City Manager's Update

I'm posting recaps here on Tuesdays and Thursdays of COVID-19 information for Carlsbad residents. If you'd like to receive these updates via email, sign up for the City Enews email list. You can also follow us on social media and visit the city's special COVID-19 webpage for the latest information.

Aug. 13, 2020, 1:20 p.m.

Today Carlsbad is reporting six new COVID-19 cases for a new total of 531. Of those, we estimate 45 are currently active. This is a big decrease from my last update, partly because the CDC has put out new guidance on how long someone is thought to be contagious, from 14 days to 10 days.

The county doesn’t report on “active” cases. This is something we calculate based on the date someone’s test is reported positive. The number is important because it tells us how many people in the community are currently contagious, and that speaks to the risk of spread – sort of.

Like all the numbers we report, active cases don’t tell the whole story. Someone could be contagious and have no symptoms. Someone could have COVID-19 and not have been tested. Someone with COVID-19 who lives in one of our neighboring cities – and therefore is not included in the Carlsbad case numbers – could run errands in Carlsbad.

This is why the best advice to stay safe and slow the spread is still to assume everyone you see could be contagious and act accordingly. I know that might sound extreme, but if everyone did this, we could get the numbers down to where businesses could reopen, schools could once again hold classes in person and other important activities could resume.

We are getting there

I am happy to report that our collective actions are starting to finally make a difference. There is a lag time between our individual behaviors and when new cases are reported. Then there is a further lag time between when new cases are reported and when people experience serious complications.

Yesterday the county reported fewer than 100 cases per 100,000 in population (the number is either 98.4 or 94.1, depending on if you’re looking at county data or state data – yes, this is confusing). With this, the county is no longer exceeding any of the state’s six triggers that put us on the watch list.

State triggers

As a reminder, the state is monitoring six areas to determine if a county needs to be on its “watch list.” Being on the watch list means counties face more health restrictions. We’ve been on the watch list since July 3.  The triggers, which are explained on the state’s website, include:

  • Number of tests conducted per day
  • Number of cases per 100,000 population
  • Testing positivity rate (percentage of positive tests based on total tests conducted)
  • Increase in hospitalizations
  • ICU bed availability
  • Ventilator availability

Counties may have additional metrics. For example, San Diego County is also monitoring community outbreaks and the ability to quickly investigate new cases and do contact tracing. You can see the full list of county triggers on this dashboard.

Not so fast

Meeting all the state’s metrics is great news and proof that what are doing is making a difference. But, it doesn’t mean we are automatically off the monitoring list. We need to continue to meet all of the requirements for three days in a row, and then it will be possible to get off the list, once the state and county make that determination. Due to glitches in the state’s testing data, the state is not making any changes to the county monitoring list right now, but that will hopefully change soon.

What can reopen when we’re off the list?

When San Diego County is off the monitoring list, and state and county health officials give the green light, the following can reopen indoor operations:

  • Gyms and fitness centers
  • Places of worship and cultural ceremonies, like weddings and funerals
  • Offices for non-critical infrastructure sectors
  • Personal care services, like nail salons and body waxing
  • Hair salons and barbershops
  • Shopping malls

The following indoor operations are closed statewide, not just for counties on the monitoring list.  Again, state action will be required to open these back up:

  • Dine-in restaurants
  • Wineries and tasting rooms
  • Movie theaters 
  • Family entertainment centers (for example: bowling alleys, miniature golf, batting cages and arcades)
  • Zoos and museums
  • Cardrooms
  • Bars, brewpubs, breweries, and pubs, unless they are offering sit-down, outdoor dining. Alcohol can only be sold in the same transaction as a meal.

Either way, things appear to be headed in the right direction, so please keep up the good work.  We will get through this if everyone follows the health precautions needed to slow the spread.

Other case data

  • The county has reported 418 new cases since my update on Tuesday for a new total of 33,393.
  • The 14-day average positivity rate (positive cases compared to total tests) is down again at 4.7%. This is good. The target is under 8 %.
  • Six new COVID-19 deaths were reported yesterday for a new total of 608. This includes five women and one man between the ages of 66 to 96. All had underlying medical conditions. Please join me in keeping their families and other loved ones in your thoughts as you go about your days.
  • The county is now reporting 26 community outbreaks in the past seven days. The target is no more than seven in seven days.

Here is a link to all the charts and graphs released by the county yesterday.

Later gaiter?

A new study might be causing some of you to toss your neck gaiters (I tend to favor the gaiter myself). But, hold on.

Here’s what’s going on. Researchers at Duke University figured out an easy, low tech way to see how effective various types of face coverings are. Here’s a link to the article.

Basically, they put someone in a dark room wearing a mask of some sort, had the person talk and illuminated the area with a green laser light. This makes droplets coming from the person’s mouth appear green, like a mini meteor shower. Someone takes a video of the experiment on a cell phone and then counts the number of droplets. Here’s a cool video that shows the experiment in action.

Using a scale starting at 100, which is how many droplets come from a person without a face covering, researchers gave each type of face covering a score.

Unsurprisingly, a properly fitted N95 mask transmitted less than 0.1 percent of particles, while neck gaiters actually appeared to spew more droplets than someone wearing no face covering. Researchers speculated that the material used on the neck gaiter sheared larger droplets into smaller ones.

The neck gaiter industry (apparently this is now a thing) was quick to point out that neck gaiters come in many different types of materials and thicknesses and can be folded for added protection. The researchers stressed that the purpose of their article was to show a way to easily test face coverings not necessarily to provide a definitive ranking of their effectiveness.

They did, however, provide a ranking of different types of coverings, which you can see in the article. Three-ply cloth masks were better than two-ply and one-ply. Cotton performed better than other fabrics.

Perhaps the biggest take away is that covering your face does reduce droplets that could infect other people. We all emit droplets when we cough, sneeze, talk, yell, sing and breathe. The fewer droplets we emit, the fewer people we will infect. The fewer people that get infected, the slower the spread. So please continue to mask up, layer up and keep your distance from others.

Masks vs “coverings”

On a side note, early on in the pandemic questions came up about N95 masks vs surgical masks vs cloth face coverings. At the time, I asked our fire chief about it. First of all, we want to leave medical grade masks to those most at risk. Some people have N95 masks in their emergency kits already. If so, it’s fine to use them, but keep in mind they might not provide the level of protection you think they do. That’s because they must fit perfectly.

The Fire Department does fit tests for all its personnel where they basically put on their N95 mask and then are exposed to different smells. If the person wearing the mask can detect the smell, the mask doesn’t fit well enough. Most likely, your off-the-shelf N95 masks won’t fit you perfectly either. It will provide some protection but not at the level you expect.

Economic relief

Governor Gavin Newsom devoted yesterday’s news conference to the topic of economic relief. For every day the shutdowns continue, businesses are facing more and more hardships. We are feeling this here in Carlsbad too.

You can read about the latest state efforts to “stabilize California’s economy, businesses and workforce, aid workers and employers, and create equitable growth across the state’s economy.” Next Tuesday we’ll be providing our latest COVID-19 response update to the Carlsbad City Council, including proposals from our Economic Revitalization Ad Hoc Subcommittee.

In addition to our local partnerships and loan programs, our staff has streamlined the permit process for businesses to move outdoors. We have currently approved more than 50 free and low costs permits, and 10 more are in the works.

In the meantime, federal stimulus talks continue, and the president has signed executive orders meant to help provide economic relief.

I’ll report out on this in greater detail next week.

As we head into what is projected to be a warmer than normal weekend, please consider visiting our local businesses and take advantage of their new outdoor operations. They need our support more than ever.

When you do head out, please don’t just follow, but be a model for the health precautions needed to slow the spread. Even if you’re 6 feet from others, consider wearing your mask anyways or at least have it on display around your neck.

Our community has always been known as a friendly place where people care about each other. The way to show that now is by covering your face, avoiding gatherings, especially indoors, and giving people plenty of room in stores, on sidewalks and other places.

Our actions are having an effect. Please keep up the good work.

You can follow any breaking news between now and my next update on the city’s website and social media.

 

Aug. 11, 2020, 1:40 p.m.

On Monday the county reported fewer than 240 new COVID-19 cases for the first time since June. You may recall last week the county public health officer said the region needs to have no more than 240 new cases for 14 days in a row to hit one of the state’s key criteria for loosening public health restrictions. We are also seeing a downward trend in new hospitalizations and ICU admissions.

I must admit, I find myself looking for any little ray of hope as we mark five months since the local public health emergency was declared. However, given the recent news stories about the state’s testing data, as well as the fact that case numbers following a weekend have tended to be lower overall, it’s sadly still too soon to put away the sweatpants and return to old routines.

State testing data

The County of San Diego will give a COVID-19 update today at 2:30 p.m., during which I expect officials will again address the reported inaccuracies in state testing data. Governor Newsom announced yesterday that the backlog of case information was cleared over the weekend, and Sunday night the state’s public health officer resigned.

Previously our county’s health officials had explained that much of the testing data they receive is not from state labs. The Union-Tribune reported Monday afternoon that county officials said they did not get any new batches of data over the weekend from the state. We’ll see what all this means later today, but in the meantime, it appears the computer glitches and other reasons for the state’s reporting problems have now been addressed.

This whole episode has highlighted the kind of stress the COVID-19 pandemic is putting on government resources and systems. When mistakes happen, it only reinforces the wariness many people have about government. I don’t have any special insight into this state situation, but here in our region, I see a lot of very dedicated public servants trying their very best under really challenging circumstances.

Latest case data
  • 25 more COVID-19 cases in Carlsbad since my update last Thursday for a new total of 525.
  • We estimate 80 are active in Carlsbad at this time.
  • 2,111 more cases countywide since last Thursday for a new total of 32,975.
  • 2,752 or 8.3% of cases have required hospitalization.
  • 689 or 2.1% of all cases and 25.0% of hospitalized cases had to be admitted to an intensive care unit.
  • The county is reporting 8 more deaths since our Friday update for a new total of 594.
  • The 14-day rolling average percentage of positive cases is 5.0%. Target is less than 8.0%.
  • Five new outbreaks were confirmed on Aug. 9, one each in a restaurant, a restaurant/bar, a business, a grocery and a government setting. 
  • In the past seven days, 24 community outbreaks were confirmed. The target is seven.

New guidance for higher education

The state on Friday released guidance for colleges and universities that want to open to in-person classes this fall. A phased reopening of higher education institutions will depend on local conditions including virus trends, availability of testing resources and public health capacity to respond to case and outbreak investigations, among other factors. Some of these include:

  • Implementing distancing on campus. Space seating/desks at least 6 feet apart.
  • Limiting nonessential visitors and campus activities.
  • Closing nonessential shared spaces, such as game rooms and lounges.
  • Providing grab-and-go meal options or serving individually plated meals.
  • Prioritizing single-room occupancy for housing, except for family housing.
  • Training faculty, staff and students on COVID-19 prevention.
  • Encouraging telework for as many faculty and staff as possible, especially workers at higher risk for severe illness from COVID-19.

The guidance also addresses college sports, allowing some competitions in very specific circumstances and only with several precautions in place. You can get more details in the link.

Supporting businesses/adapting to new needs

Back in March when the local state of emergency was first declared the City of Carlsbad immediately began working with the Carlsbad Chamber of Commerce and Carlsbad Village Association to help support our local businesses.

In May, the City Council passed a $5 million economic recovery and revitalization initiative that included $4 million for small business microloans and recovery loans, $250,000 for a business promotion and marketing plan, mediation services for landlords and tenants, and various other measures to support businesses.

At the beginning of June, the city was one of the first in the region to provide economic relief to businesses by allowing them to expand their operations outdoors onto private parking lots and public sidewalks. To date nearly 40 businesses have taken advantage of free permits to expand onto private property, and another small handful have opted to pay for a $381 permit to expand onto the sidewalk.

A less popular option – expanding into street parking spaces – has gotten some attention in the past week. Here’s why: Moving business operations into the street triggers a requirement to pay a fee of $1,200 for each parking space used because it removes available public parking spaces from the Village for a private use. The fee is used to secure new parking. This is part of the city’s existing curb café program, created to help balance outdoor dining with the need for convenient parking in the Village.

Only one business during COVID has chosen to go this route, but the resulting fees to take over four parking spaces has raised some eyebrows. The city’s Economic Revitalization Subcommittee is in the process of developing options to address the fee issue in light of current business needs, and we plan to present those to the City Council for further discussion. Again, our goal is to be fair to everyone involved, including businesses who paid for and built curb cafés pre-COVID-19.

State Street closure

Some have suggested closing part of State Street in the Village to allow for more outdoor business operations and social distancing. We have explored the idea of doing this, including closing the street just part of the time, like weekends and evenings. Through two surveys and personal visits with businesses along the affected parts of State Street, we found most preferred to keep it open. It wasn’t an overwhelming majority, but those opposed to the idea felt strongly that it would hurt their businesses. As a result, we are focusing on other ways to accomplish the same goals.

We continue to welcome innovative ideas on all fronts of the COVID-19 public health emergency. Let’s face it, these are unprecedented times requiring quick action and a lot of flexibility. We are committed to being as nimble and creative as we can while still protecting the public’s health and making responsible decisions when it comes to taxpayer money.

Future housing needs

I’ve mentioned a few times lately that the city is updating its housing plan, something required by the state to ensure we are providing housing for all members of our community. This includes updating city housing policies and designating space for about 3,900 new housing units by 2029, of which about 2,100 units need to be affordable for people with very low to moderate incomes. 

Please take a few minutes to answer some questions about housing in Carlsbad. To find out more about this project, here’s a link to a quick video.

Your feedback will be included in a presentation to the City Council Aug. 27.

Age-friendly Carlsbad 

On a related note, the City of Carlsbad, in partnership with AARP and the San Diego Foundation, is gathering input to develop the city's first Age-Friendly Action Plan. The goal of the plan is to outline policies and programs that enhance the quality of life in the community for people of all ages and abilities. 

You can read more about the initiative on the city’s website, then take this survey, which I cannot in all honesty call “quick,” but it’s important information, so if you’re 45 or older, please take the time to fill it out.

More terrific teens

Okay, I have to admit that when I heard about this next story, it took a few beats for me to even wrap my brain around the concept. Basically, a local teen-aged computer wiz has created manuals showing students halfway around the world how to utilize educational websites, thus greatly expanding their learning opportunities, regardless of their economic circumstances.

Jaiv Doshi, a 16-year-old Carlsbad resident and senior at Pacific Ridge, wrote the manuals in English, Hindi and Marathi (a regional language) teaching kids how to get onto the internet and common educational websites. To date, 3,500 manuals have been delivered to students in India through a nonprofit Jaiv founded in 2013 with his sister, Bansini.

You can read more about this initiative in this article from The San Diego Union-Tribune.

This week’s public meetings

City Council
There is no City Council meeting this week.  The next meeting will be held on Tuesday, Aug. 18, at 3 p.m.

Housing Element Advisory Committee
Aug. 12 at 3 p.m. online

This is a great opportunity to learn more about the topics addressed in the survey I mentioned earlier. You can also provide comments directly to the committee during the meeting if you want to. Here’s a link to the agenda.

Housing Commission
Aug. 13 at 6 p.m. online

The Housing Commission returns for its first meeting since the start of the COVID-19 public health emergency. Here’s a link to the agenda.

You can now watch all boards and commission meetings live on the city’s website. Here is the page where they air.

Staying (mentally) healthy

I mentioned that this week marks five months since the City of Carlsbad activated its emergency operations center due to the COVID-19 public health emergency. This means that here in Carlsbad, it’s been five months since schools and shops closed down, five months since gatherings were prohibited, and five months since our routines have been turned upside down, or worse. Many have lost jobs or businesses, or are afraid every day they could. Older family members have been isolated.

It’s only natural to feel anxious, stressed, worried, sad, bored, depressed, lonely or frustrated in these circumstances (or any combination of these things!).

You’re not alone.

The state’s COVID-19 resource website lists several good strategies for managing stress, such as:

  • Be mindful of your intake of information from news sources about the virus, and consider taking breaks from it.
  • Maintain social contact with supportive relationships like friends, family or others, by phone, text or internet.
  • Treat your body kindly: eat healthy foods, avoid excessive alcohol and exercise as much as you can.
  • Call your health care provider or 2-1-1 if your anxiety interferes with your daily activities.

Additional resources are available online, including some just for families, kids and others in special circumstances. Please take a moment to review this information and share it with others.

The Carlsbad community is strong and resilient. Most importantly, we care about each other and are there for one another. We are in this together, and we will get through this together.

 

Aug. 6, 2020, 12:40 p.m.

The county is reporting 10 new COVID-19 cases in Carlsbad since my last update, for a new total of 500. We estimate 88 of those cases are currently active, a decrease of seven since my Tuesday update. Countywide, 638 total cases have been reported since Tuesday, and the “positivity rate” (percentage of positive tests based on total tests administered) remains at 5.3%, which is below the 8% threshold established by the county. You may recall this had been inching up in recent weeks, so being back around 5% is a good sign. Here is a link to the latest charts and graphs shared yesterday by the county and a link to the chart we maintain showing cases as a percentage of population.

Case investigations now hitting the target
The hundreds of case investigators the county brought onboard has helped the case investigation trigger move from red to green. The metric requires that 71% or more case investigations begin within 24 hours after a positive case is assigned. The seven-day rolling average is now at 73% after hitting a low of 7% July 23.

More good signs
Not only is the county now meeting the case investigations metric, but we are getting closer to the 100 cases per 100,000 in population trigger. As of yesterday, the number was down to 105.7.

San Diego County still has 37% capacity in ICUs, which is higher than the 20% goal – another good sign.

Outbreaks still a concern
Six more community outbreaks have been confirmed since my last update. Sources include a preschool, businesses, restaurant/bars and a faith based organization. The new seven-day number is 30 – down from 39, but still way higher than the goal of seven. Please, please, please avoid crowded places, cover your face when you are out in public and don’t have people over for get togethers.

Are the numbers accurate?
Now that I’ve shared the most recent numbers, you might be wondering about recent reports that problems have been discovered with the state’s COVID-19 data. Earlier this week the state’s top health expert acknowledged that “technical glitches” in the state’s electronic reporting system may be causing a significant under count of total COVID-19 cases. This is causing concern because public health officials have said all along that the ability to track trends in the number and location of COVID-19 cases was critical to an effective response. The issue does not extend to hospitalization data because that is reported through a different system.

San Diego County officials said yesterday that the main issue is with commercial labs and that local testing partners are providing accurate data. We will continue to monitor this situation as it gets sorted out.

Health order compliance
On Tuesday the County of San Diego Board of Supervisors took a number of actions to increase compliance with the public health order, including the assignment of 22 staff to help with enforcement, in addition to the 13 already assigned. The county also set up a Healthy Compliance Call Center that people can call to report violations to the order. The next step is to work with cities (including Carlsbad) to determine how to coordinate enforcement activities and ensure complaint information is shared quickly so it can be addressed.

Until the system is in place, please continue to use our 24-hour non emergency line, 760-931-2197, if you need to report a health order violation in Carlsbad.

More local funding for child care, other needs
The Board of Supervisors also voted to devote $25 million of CARES Act funding to child care, $18.8 million to food service programs and $5 million to public health testing, tracing and treatment strategies in K-12 schools once they are allowed to reopen.

The child care provider grant program will fund licensed and license-exempt child care providers experiencing financial hardships due to COVID-19. Child care providers can use funding to pay for a variety of expenses including rent and mortgage payments, personal protective equipment, staffing and supplies. Grants will be distributed across the county and will be based on the size of the child care facility. All types of child care facilities from family-run to large organizations are eligible to apply.

The CARES Act funding for food programs will be directed to the Great Plates Delivered program for seniors. The county will also allocate $3.5 million each to support food banks and struggling restaurants in the region.

Proper disposal of masks
We’re getting reports of disposable masks being flushed down the toilet and ending up in the city’s sewer system. Aside from the number one and number two most common things that go into a toilet, anything other than toilet paper causes real problems in the sewer system. Your own system could get backed up, city pipes could get clogged and it could even cause breaches in the system that allow sewage to contaminate our beautiful ocean and lagoons.

Please be sure to dispose of masks in the trash or, better yet, use cloth face coverings that can be washed and reused. Please share this information with your friends and family too. Thank you!

Kindness Rocks
Thanks for continuing to share slices of life from your local neighborhoods. Here’s one from some residents in the north part of town who are continuing to get friends involved in painting inspirational messages on rocks and then “hiding” them in their front yards for neighbors to discover on their daily walks. Such a simple gesture that I am sure brings joy to those who see them.  

Please let me know how your neighborhood is coping with these times so I can share ideas with the rest of our community. You can email photos and stories to communications@carlsbadca.gov.

Learning to “Wing it”
I’ll end this week’s update with another inspirational story about local teens. This Coast News article highlights three Carlsbad High School students who have spent their summer helping kids learn to improve their coping skills through their “Wing it” improv comedy camps. The teens were awarded a grant to host the camps, which they say teaches kids to listen, take chances, not be afraid to fail and flip a negative scenario into a positive one – all life skills that are especially important in times like these.

I’ll be back with another update next Tuesday. In the meantime, you can stay current by following the city’s social media and checking our COVID-19 web page.

Thank you for everything you are personally doing to slow the spread in our community. Please keep it up and continue to #Care4Carlsbad.

 

Aug. 4, 2020, 12:20 p.m.

Back in March when the local health emergency was declared and the stay at home order was first issued, most health officials were hesitant to say how long restrictions would be in place. Some who ventured a guess said June, July or “even August.” At the time many thought that seemed so extreme.

At least the start of August brings some bits of good news, following a month of discouraging setbacks in July. The County of San Diego has been on the state’s monitoring list since early July because we have had more than 100 COVID-19 cases per 100,000 in population. Yesterday, county health officials announced the case rate has been steadily dropping. After reaching a high of 159 on July 23, the rate has now decreased to 118.

To get below the 100 cases per 100,000 in population, our county would need to report 240 or fewer new COVID-19 cases for 14 days in a row. We haven’t had fewer than 240 cases since June 22. But, we can get there. We have seen what works. If everyone doubles down on following ALL parts of the health order, we can reduce the spread. The quicker we do that, the quicker health restrictions can ease.

Statewide data

Over the weekend, California surpassed half a million cases of COVID-19, at 512,000, the most of any state in the country.

Deaths are called a lagging indicator, meaning they occur awhile after new cases are reported. In July, California broke its own single-day record for COVID-19 deaths five times, three last week alone. The governor reported yesterday that over the last two weeks, California saw an average of 121 deaths a day.

The number of people hospitalized statewide has fallen about 10% over two weeks, and admissions to intensive care units have fallen by 5%. These are both hopeful signs that we may see the number of deaths decrease in the coming weeks. For every family throughout California with a loved one battling COVID-19, I truly hope this is the case.

Community outbreaks

Back to the countywide data – while total new cases are headed in the right direction, community outbreaks are not. Over the past seven days, 39 community outbreaks in San Diego County have been confirmed, the highest seven-day total since the pandemic began. Fifteen of the 39 outbreaks were reported in restaurant/bar settings, seven in businesses, four in restaurants without bars and the rest in other settings. The target is no more than seven new outbreaks in seven days (yes, we have more than five times this amount). Limiting outbreaks is critical to reducing the overall number of cases.

I know it’s hard, but please avoid gatherings with neighbors, friends and family members, especially indoors. And, anytime you are within 6 feet of someone else, cover your face.

Case investigations and tracing

Another county metric (not a state metric) is how quickly case investigators can make contact with COVID-19 patients. The county had hired and trained enough case investigators to meet the goal of completing the initial contact with 24 hours at least 70% of the time.

Then, we saw a surge of new cases, and this number dropped to the single digits. The county has added more than 200 new investigators, and now the average is up to 48%. Even more case investigators will be coming onboard in the days and weeks to come, and the county health officer said yesterday she expects to meet the 70% mark in the next week or two.

On a side note, case investigators are different than contact tracers. Case investigators have expertise in public health and more specialized training. They make the first contact with patients. Contact tracers do the follow-on work of getting in touch with those who have potentially be exposed by a specific patient.

School plans

As is typical in August, attention is turning to the start of the school year. You may recall that the governor called for all schools in counties on the state monitoring list to start the year with online instruction only.

Yesterday afternoon, the California Department of Public Health opened up an opportunity for elementary schools (transitional kindergarten through 6th grade) to hold in-person classes. There is a long list of conditions, including consulting with parents, labor unions and others first. School opening plans must address:

  • Cleaning and disinfection
  • How to maintain small, stable groups of students (to avoid mass exposure)
  • How people will enter, move around and leave campus
  • Face coverings and other essential protective gear
  • Health screenings for students and staff
  • Healthy hygiene practices
  • Identification and tracing of contacts
  • Physical distancing
  • Staff training and family education
  • Testing of students and staff
  • Triggers for switching to distance learning
  • Communication plans

Elementary schools in counties with fewer than 200 COVID-19 cases per 100,000 in population can apply for a waiver from the online-only model. Schools in San Diego County would qualify to apply based on this metric, but that doesn’t mean waivers would be granted. You can see the full list of criteria and steps involved on the state’s website.

Three school districts have elementary schools located in Carlsbad: Carlsbad Unified School District, Encinitas Union School District and San Marcos School District. San Dieguito Unified High School District also has a school in Carlsbad (La Costa Canyon High School), but the waiver program is only available to elementary schools (public and private).

This information is brand new, so I expect we’ll be hearing more about what this means to our local students once school officials have had a chance to review all the details.

Case data update

  • The county is reporting 10 new COVID-19 cases in Carlsbad since last Friday, for a new total of 490. We estimate 95 are currently active in Carlsbad.
  • Countywide cases have increased by 1,178 over the same time period
  • The 14-day average testing positivity rate is 5.3%. The goal is less than 8%.
  • The 20-49 age group makes up almost 2/3 of all cases (59% or 17,797 cases)
  • 2,599 or 9% of cases have been hospitalized
  • 2% of total cases required ICU
  • 71% of those hospitalized are over age 50 (1,847 cases)
  • 2% of total cases have died
  • 95% of people who died had underlying health conditions

Hospital capacity

  • 390 COVID patients are currently hospitalized
  • 124 COVID cases are now in the ICU 
  • Total ICU utilization (COVID and non COVID patients) is 64%, which is lower than the 80% threshold, meaning 36% of our ICU capacity is still available

Here is a link to all the latest charts and graphs from the county.

Census deadline approaching

Government resources for schools, health care, infrastructure and other essentials are based on population, and population is calculated based on the U.S. Census, conducted every 10 years.

If you haven’t completed your census survey, please do it today. It’s easier than ever thanks to a new online form.

In April the U.S. Census Bureau had to push back the timing of when workers could begin door to door follow up, due to COVID-19. This has now started in some areas and is expected to increase significantly starting next week. The federal government announced yesterday that the new deadline for all methods of response is Sept. 30, 2020.

It’s possible that Congress could delay the deadline in the next coronavirus economic aid package being considered, but please get this completed now just to be safe. 

On the docket for today

The County of San Diego Board of Supervisors is scheduled to discuss COVID-19 matters starting at 1 p.m. today. This includes an update on response efforts, the latest grants to help child care providers and others in need of support, and options for increased enforcement.

Here is the full agenda, and if you want to watch live, here is the link. I’ll report out significant developments in my Thursday update.

Speaking of public meetings, just a reminder that the Carlsbad City Council is on a two-week break from meetings. The next scheduled meeting is Aug. 18 at 3 p.m.

That’s it for today. Please continue to do your part to reduce the spread of COVID-19, especially:

  • Cover your face when you leave home
  • Avoid gathering with others and going to crowded places
  • Wash your hands often and don’t touch your face
  • If you have symptoms of COVID-19, stay home and contact your health care provider

Thank you for helping. Your actions save lives.

 

July 30, 2020, 1:45 p.m.

The latest data shared from county health officials revealed that six out of every 10 adults are at increased risk of severe illness if they get COVID-19. This is because about 57% of all San Diego County adults have at least one pre-existing medical condition such as high blood pressure, heart or lung disease, cancer, diabetes and obesity.

Updated research from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention explains that those with underlying conditions are more at risk of serious illness if they get COVID-19, which could result in hospitalization or in worst cases, death. To date, 95% of those who died from COVID-19 had underlying medical conditions. Of the 2,459 people who were hospitalized due to COVID-19, about 52% were 60 years of age or older.

Sadly, many young adults may think they won’t get sick and therefore aren’t following the public health guidance. What some don’t realize is that they could get infected and pass the virus on to those more vulnerable without knowing it. This is why we need all people of all ages to take action, wear a face covering, maintain distance, avoid gatherings and crowds and wash your hands. If you don’t do it to protect yourself, do it to protect others.

Employer responsibility

Effective starting today, the county public health order has been updated to reflect new direction to all employers if they become aware that an employee has been diagnosed with COVID-19.  

When three or more cases are identified in the workplace within a span of 14 days, the employer must provide notice of exposure to any employees, customers or persons who may have been exposed at the workplace. A strong recommendation is made that employers also provide such notice when at least one employee is diagnosed with COVID-19 in the workplace.

This new noticing requirement is in addition to the existing requirement that employers promptly notify the County Department of Public Health if an employee has been diagnosed with COVID-19 and that they cooperate with the county COVID-19 response team to identify and provide contact information for anyone exposed by the employee at the workplace.

Latest case numbers

Carlsbad had 22 new COVID-19 cases reported since Thursday for a new cumulative total of 467. We estimate the number of active cases is 133. Overall our case numbers remain among the lowest in the region per capita. Poway still has the lowest.

The county overall reported 282 new positive cases yesterday and a 4% positivity rate (this is better than in recent days). The rolling 14-day average percentage of positive cases is 5.5%, which is lower than it has been. This metric meets the target goal of less than 8%. Here is a link to all the updated charts from yesterday.

Update on triggers

Six new outbreaks were confirmed for July 28. Two in restaurant/bar settings, two in businesses, one in a purely restaurant setting and one in a health care setting. In the past seven days, 24 community outbreaks were identified, more than triple the trigger of seven.

Only 11% of case investigations were initiated within 24 hours of notification over a seven-day period. This remains far below the goal of 70%.

The state’s threshold of no more than 100 cases per every 100,000 residents is also in the red, currently at 139.4 in San Diego County. This is down from 144 on Tuesday, which is a good direction. The county will come off the state’s monitoring list once it has a case rate below 100 for at least three consecutive days. Currently that means we’d have to have 240 or less positives cases each day for 14 days straight. Of California’s 58 counties, 38 are on the state monitoring list.

Another trigger worth keeping an eye on is the hospital bed capacity. Currently, 72% of hospital beds are full in San Diego County, just 8% below the threshold of 80%.

Face coverings

Our city continues to follow the state and county public health orders and to encourage people to cover their faces when they leave their homes and cannot maintain the physical distance required to slow the spread of COVID-19.

City police officers, city staff and volunteers have done extensive education efforts by providing more than 178,000 masks to community members and visitors, communicating the importance of face coverings through the city website and social media platforms and placing signage at high-trafficked areas around the city. Despite our public education efforts, there are many people still gathering in groups and not wearing masks when physical distancing cannot be maintained.

We are also educating those who are visiting Carlsbad from other places that we are a mask-wearing city. In partnership with Visit Carlsbad, the Carlsbad Chamber of Commerce and Carlsbad Village Association, we recently provided print and digital signage to all 41 open hotels in Carlsbad to remind visitors that masks are required and necessary to keep our hotels and businesses open for all to enjoy. As visitors pull up, check in at the lobby and enter their rooms, we want them to also understand their critical role in slowing the spread of COVID-19. If they stay safe, our businesses can stay open.

On Tuesday, the City Council considered administrative enforcement options as an additional tool to help get more people to follow the state and county public health orders requiring them to wear facial coverings in certain situations. This would have allowed the city to issue administrative citations to those who violate the county health order face covering requirements. Issuing citations, administrative or criminal, must be done in compliance with the law, including the Fourth Amendment.

Instead of adopting the authority to issue administrative citations for violations of the county health order, the City Council directed staff to draft a Carlsbad-specific face covering ordinance for City Council consideration that could include requiring people to wear face coverings at given places, times and in certain situations, such as in busy or more-crowded areas or times of day.

It should be noted that as of this newsletter’s issuance no citations have been issued countywide related to mask enforcement.

I want to assure you that your health and safety continue to be our top priority. We take this issue very seriously and will continue to strongly encourage residents and visitors to wear face coverings and avoid gatherings with people outside of their household. We want to find the best solution possible for Carlsbad and believe we all have a role to play in slowing the spread of COVID-19.

Closure of outdoor basketball courts

For the past several weeks, we’ve received complaints about groups gathering and engaging in pickup games at the city’s outdoor basketball courts who were not maintaining social distance and not following the public health order. Parks & Recreation Department staff placed signage at the courts to remind people this is not allowed, in hopes that people would make the right decision. Unfortunately, this has not helped the situation. As a result, we made the tough decision to temporarily close outdoor basketball courts effective today to help slow the spread of COVID-19. We hope to be able to reopen them soon, once we feel it is safe to do so.

Outdoor business operations

Here in Carlsbad, businesses have been able to activate the public sidewalk or a private parking lot to bring their business outdoors. City Council voted to take this another step further and suspend certain land development standards in the Village & Barrio to allow curb cafés, sidewalk cafés and outdoor displays.

Food/beverage serving businesses can apply for a permit to extend their outdoor seating from the sidewalk into the parking lanes and/or allow outdoor seating to extend onto public property. Permits will also be available for businesses of limited sizes that want to display merchandise outside of their business.

Our Community Development Department has made it quick and easy to apply for permits.

20,000th senior meal

This week, we marked another milestone in our senior lunch program – the delivery of the 20,000th meal since the beginning of the COVID-19 public health emergency. You may recall that when the stay at home order began, we had to shut down in-person dining at the senior center. Instead, we arranged to have senior lunches packed up for pick up and delivery.

Our Parks & Recreation staff, some of whom you can see in the photo below, continue to do an incredible job to help ensure those most vulnerable don’t have to worry about finding their next meal. You can read more about our senior meal program and sign up yourself or a loved one up for pickup or delivery.

 

Until next week …

The county has not planned any more news briefings until Monday, but if anything comes up, as always, we will have information on the city’s website and social media channels. The City Council will be on recess for the next two weeks and will resume meetings on Tuesday, Aug. 18.

The San Diego County Board of Supervisors will meet on Tuesday at 9 a.m. to discuss a plan for the establishment of a safe reopening compliance team and healthy compliance hotline to help improve compliance with the public health order. Here’s the link to the agenda.

You are always welcome to reach out at any time with questions or concerns. Email communications@carlsbadca.gov or post a comment on social media.

I’ll be back on Tuesday. Until then, please stay safe, follow all health precautions and continue to #Care4Carlsbad.

 

July 28, 2020, 12:25 p.m.

Yesterday, the County of San Diego updated its public health order to reflect new guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, which no longer recommends for individuals who tested positive for COVID-19 to be tested again to determine if they can stop isolating at home and return to work.

Those with COVID-19 who were directed to care for themselves at home can stop isolating under the following conditions:

  • People with mild to moderate symptoms – at least 10 days have passed since symptoms began, have not had a fever for 24 hours without taking fever reducing medications and other symptoms have resolved.
  • People with severe or critical illness or who are severely immunocompromised – at least 20 days have passed after symptoms developed and one day after fever resolution and improving symptoms.
  • People who are severely immunocompromised but have no symptoms – after 20 days since testing positive.
  • People who tested positive for COVID-19 but never developed symptoms – after 10 days since the date of their first diagnostic positive test.

The change is a result of the CDC learning more about COVID-19 as time goes on and more data becomes available. View the county’s updated health order specific to isolation of people with or likely to have COVID-19.

Update on outbreaks

Since Thursday, 10 new outbreaks have been confirmed. Four in a restaurant/bar, three in businesses, and the other three in a church, gym and food processing facility. In the past seven days, 13 community outbreaks were identified, still exceeding the trigger of seven.

The number of outbreaks in community settings has seen a big spike in July. Of the 120 COVID-19 outbreaks confirmed in community settings since the pandemic began, 59 have been reported in July. The total has surpassed the 34 that were reported in June and the 27 that were confirmed during the first three months of the pandemic.

Restaurants with bars make up most of the community outbreaks confirmed to date. The County Department of Environmental Health continues to work with restaurants to make sure they are following the public health guidelines. Below is a new chart from the county that provides a summary of all COVID-19 community outbreaks by industry sector.

Here are the latest charts and graphs shared during the county’s briefing yesterday. The county continues to hold news conferences on Mondays and Wednesdays at 2:30 p.m. You can watch live or after the fact on the county’s social media channels. 

Update on other triggers

The county continues to miss two other benchmarks, case investigations and number of cases per capita. Only 10% of case investigations were initiated within 24 hours of notification over a seven-day period. This is still far below the goal of 70%. The county hopes to improve this number with the addition of 97 more case investigators last week, and another 200 in the weeks ahead.

The state’s threshold of no more than 100 cases per every 100,000 residents is also in the red, currently at 144 in San Diego County. This is down from 154.8 last Thursday, which is a good direction.

The rolling 14-day average of positive COVID-19 tests based on total tests has decreased to 5.7%. This is also good news since that metric was inching toward the threshold of 8% last week.

Since my last update on Thursday, Carlsbad has 33 more cases for a new cumulative total of 445. We estimate 127 are active right now. San Diego County reported 523 new cases for July 26. To date, 27,507 positive cases have been reported in San Diego County.

Another trigger being watched closely is the hospital bed capacity. Currently, 72% of hospital beds are full in San Diego County, just 8% below the threshold of 80%.

Meet our new Library & Cultural Arts Director

The COVID-19 pandemic has been a long road that doesn’t seem to have an end in sight anytime soon. It continues to take a village made up of committed city staff and strong leadership to help navigate and support our community through these challenging times. Much of our staff have worked at the city for many years, making them an extension of our community. This is the case for the newest member of our city leadership team, our new Library & Cultural Arts Department Director Suzanne Smithson.

Suzanne has worked for the library longer than she has not worked for the library in her life. She started work for the city in 1991 as a part-time library clerk and has played a big role in the process of evolving our library services and resources to continue to make them available during COVID-19. Check out this short video to hear about Suzanne’s vision for the department and why she feels Library & Cultural Arts programs and services are at the heart of the community.

Today’s City Council meeting

We’ll be providing the City Council with an update on the city’s overall response to COVID-19, including spending to date. You can see the full agenda on the city’s website. The City Council will also consider administrative enforcement of the face covering requirements included in the state and county public health orders. If approved, this enforcement could allow the city to issue administrative citations for those who violate the health orders and don’t wear face coverings when entering businesses or anywhere else where they could come into contact with others.

The meeting starts at 3 p.m. and can be watched on the website or city cable channel. If you’d like to make comments, remember to sign up by 2 p.m. today and then call in starting at 3 p.m. so you can provide your input verbally by phone.

Small actions make a big difference

I realize much focus the past few weeks has been on the importance of wearing face coverings. While this is for good reason, the California Department of Public Health guidance on face coverings emphasizes that they should not be a substitute for social distancing or washing your hands.

One of the easiest ways that we can all help slow the spread of COVID-19 is by washing our hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds. Here’s a reminder from the CDC on five steps to follow every time:

  1. Wet your hands with clean, running water (warm or cold), turn off the tap and apply soap.
  2. Lather your hands by rubbing them together with the soap. Lather the backs of your hands, between your fingers and under your nails.
  3. Scrub your hands for at least 20 seconds. Need a timer? Hum the “Happy Birthday” song from beginning to end twice.
  4. Rinse your hands well under clean, running water.
  5. Dry your hands using a clean towel or air dry them.

Clean hands can stop germs from spreading from one person to another and throughout our entire community. So, in addition to wearing your face covering and maintaining social distance, please take the extra 20 seconds to wash your hands super well. These are all small actions that have the power to make a big difference. Let’s do our part, make a difference and help slow the spread.

Care for Carlsbad

I’d like to end today’s update with this fun 10 News story I came across about a Carlsbad family who continues to spread joy in our community in a unique way. The family, with the help of their favorite characters from Toy Story, creates different scenes each week to bring smiles to their neighbors’ faces and remind us that we are all in this together.

We want to see more photos of what you or your neighborhood are doing to care for our community. Please send them our way by email to communications@carlsbadca.gov.

Please do your part and take the steps to help slow the spread. Wear a face covering, avoid crowds, wash your hands, maintain social distance and continue to #Care4Carlsbad. Together, we can make a difference.

 

July 23, 2020, 1:20 p.m.

COVID-19 case numbers continue to trend in the wrong direction, and the county’s report of a record-setting 18 deaths yesterday reminds us we are still in the midst of a pandemic disease for which there is no vaccine and limited treatment options. So, 18 additional members of our regional community have lost their lives. They ranged in ages from 51 to 96 years and all had underlying medical conditions. I would like to offer my condolences to the families and loved one of all 505 people in our county who have lost their lives due to COVID-19 in the past four months. I understand you may not have known anyone who has passed away from COVID-19 complications, but this remains a serious disease, with research still being done to try to understand the complexities of this new contagious virus.

Those over 50 years of age have been hit hardest by COVID-19. While people in this demographic represent only 31% of the more than 25,000 cases, they account for nearly 96% of the deaths. COVID-19 has been most deadly for people 70 years and older. People in this age group represent 17% of the cases but 87% of the deaths.

Case data update
Since my last update on Tuesday, Carlsbad has 17 more cases for a new cumulative total of 412. We estimate 145 are active right now. San Diego County reported 587 new cases for July 21 – the third highest one-day total. To date, 25,107 positive cases have been reported in San Diego County.

It was also shared yesterday that the State of California now has the highest number of COVID-19 cases nationwide, at 413,576. While this is true, it’s important to note that the population of California is much larger than many other states, so this stat is not comparing apples to apples. Nevertheless, the state did report 12,807 new cases yesterday, the highest number reported in a single day.

Update on other triggers
Two new outbreaks have been confirmed since Tuesday. One in a business and one in a health care setting. In the past seven days, 12 community outbreaks were identified, still exceeding the trigger of seven.

The county continues to miss two other benchmarks, case investigations and number of cases per capita. Only 9% of case investigations were initiated within 24 hours of notification over a seven-day period. This is still far below the goal of 70%. The county hopes to improve this number with the addition of 97 more case investigators this week, and another 200 in the weeks ahead.

The state’s threshold of no more than 100 cases per every 100,000 residents is also in the red, currently at 154.8 in San Diego County.

The rolling 14-day average of positive COVID-19 tests based on total tests has increased to 7%, inching toward the threshold of 8%. For now, this trigger remains green.

Another trigger to keep an eye on is the hospital bed capacity. Currently, 70% of hospital beds are full in San Diego County, just 10% below the threshold of 80%. Approximately 11% of hospital beds are occupied by COVID-19 patients.

Social distancing
While much of the focus lately has been on the importance of wearing face coverings, let’s not forget the power of maintaining 6 feet of distance from others not in our household. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and public health officials have told us that COVID-19 spreads mainly among people who are in close contact (within about 6 feet). Spread happens when an infected person coughs, sneezes or talks, and droplets from their mouth or nose are launched into the air and land in the mouths or noses of people nearby. The droplets can also be inhaled into the lungs.

Recent studies indicate that people who are infected but do not have symptoms likely also play a role in the spread of COVID-19. Since people can spread the virus before they know they are sick, it’s important to stay at least 6 feet away from others you’re not living with, even if you—or they—do not have any symptoms.

What does six feet really look like? Here’s a few examples for you to keep in mind as you go about your daily life in Carlsbad. Whether you’re at the beach, grocery store or one of our city’s dog parks, please help protect yourself and others by maintaining distance as much as possible.

Traffic and mobility updates
Core city services and the work of the City Council continues to operate remotely. Tuesday’s City Council meeting was full of project updates about one of the city’s top three priorities for this fiscal year: traffic/mobility (the other two are growth management and homelessness).

One of the City Council agenda items was about a new project that would provide better access to the beach for people with disabilities. Currently, people can get to the beach from six stairways and two non‐ADA compliant ramps at Pine Avenue and Tamarack Avenue. After looking at the existing use of the access, community input and environmental and engineering issues, staff identified two preferred ADA ramp locations:

  • North of Pine Avenue
  • At Tamarack Avenue near the restrooms

The City Council gave the green light for staff to move forward with issuing a request for proposals to pursue the environmental review, agency permitting and engineering and construction phases for both ADA access alternatives.

Here’s a simulation of what the Tamarack Avenue ADA ramp would look like.

The beach is meant to be enjoyed by all, and it’s an exciting project that would give greater access to people with disabilities. From ADA beach ramps to traffic calming measures around town, you can read more about Tuesday’s traffic and mobility agenda items here.

In other news…
If you haven’t heard, July is National Parks & Recreation Month. Parks really do make life better here in Carlsbad, which is why I want to share the latest about the future Veterans Memorial Park that will be located on 91.5 acres, near the intersection of Faraday Avenue and Cannon Road. Based on public input gathered at various points during the planning process, the draft master plan is now available to view on the city website. The park will include both active and passive uses, along with a prominent memorial element at the high point of the site and views of the ocean, lagoon and golf course. You can check out the plan, along with a summary of the park features on the project webpage.

Until next week …
The county has not planned any more news briefings until next week, but if anything comes up, as always, we will have information on the city’s website and social media channels. The City Council will meet again next Tuesday. The agenda will be posted to the city’s website by end of day tomorrow. It will include an update on the city’s overall response to the COVID-19 emergency and spending to date. The City Council will also consider administrative enforcement options to enforce the COVID-19 public health order, which requires people to bring a face covering when leaving home and wearing it when entering businesses or anywhere else where they could come into contact with others.

I hope you have an enjoyable weekend. As we have seen in the past four months, we CAN slow the spread of COVID-19. If we each do our part, case numbers will once again go down, lives will be saved and more businesses will survive. Thank you for everything you have already done and continue to do to #Care4Carlsbad.

 

July 21, 2020, 12:25 p.m.

Since my last update on Thursday Carlsbad has 61 more cases for a new cumulative total of 395. We estimate 149 are active right now. The number of community outbreaks continues to increase throughout the region. So far this month, 47 outbreaks have been reported in community settings, already surpassing the 33 reported in June and the 27 that were confirmed for the first three months of the pandemic. Restaurants with bars make up the majority of community outbreaks confirmed this month.

Six new outbreaks have been confirmed since Friday. Two were in a restaurant/bar and the rest were at a gym, government setting, manufacturing facility and a preschool. In the past seven days, 16 outbreaks were identified, more than double the trigger of seven outbreaks in seven days.

Update on other triggers

In addition to the community outbreaks trigger, the county is missing two other benchmarks, case investigations and number of cases per capita.

As of yesterday, only 8% of case investigations were initiated within 24 hours of notification over a seven-day period. This is far below the goal of 70%. This is due to an overwhelming number of cases in the past several days and not enough investigators. This number is expected to improve with the county adding nearly 100 new case investigators this week to contact San Diegans who have tested positive and identify who their close contacts were. Going forward, the county will also be hiring approximately 200 case investigators from the more than 2,300 job applications that were submitted in the last few days.

The state’s threshold of no more than 100 cases per every 100,000 residents is also in the red, currently at 145.3 in San Diego County.

The rolling 14-day average of positive COVID-19 tests based on total tests is 6.1%, below the threshold of 8%, which is a good thing. This trigger remains green.

Outdoor business operations

Yesterday, Governor Newsom announced new guidance that allows hair salons, barbershops and personal care services (like nail salons and massage therapy) to operate outdoors. The State Board of Barbering and Cosmetology has also updated their guidance to match the governor’s update. This is important because while the county announced last week that these types of businesses could operate outdoors, it was technically not allowed statewide, until yesterday.

Some of the guidelines include allowing outdoor operations under a tent, canopy or other sun shelter as long as no more than one side is closed, allowing sufficient outdoor air movement. No salons should perform a service that would require a customer to have to enter the establishment. For more information check out the state’s complete outdoor guidance for hair salons/barbershops and personal care services.

Here in Carlsbad, we’re allowing businesses to activate the public sidewalk or a private parking lot to bring their business outdoors. Our Community Development Department has made it quick and easy to apply. We are here to support and assist our businesses during this challenging time.

Upcoming school year

Last Friday, the governor announced his plans for the upcoming school year. This did not come with good news for schools in Carlsbad and San Diego County. All public, private and charter schools located in counties that are on the state’s monitoring list (this includes San Diego County) must not physically open for in-person instruction until the county has been off the list for 14 consecutive days. San Diego County has been on the state’s watch list since July 3.

The governor’s plan and state guidance also provide more information on face coverings, social distancing and when to reopen and close schools. Here is the full announcement and guidance from the California Department of Public Health. I realize how disappointing this news is for many parents and kids who were looking forward to having school classes resume in person. This is just another reason why we all need to work together and help slow the spread.

State monitoring list

So how does San Diego County get off the state’s monitoring list? The short answer is we need to lower the number of positive cases being reported daily. As I mentioned earlier, San Diego County has been on the list since July 3, when our region’s case rate went above 100 positive cases per 100,000 people three days in a row. This is one of the state’s triggers that it uses to place counties on its monitoring list. According to the county, the case rate stands now at 145.3 per 100,000 people.

After the county lowers its case rate to the state’s metric for at least three days, it comes off the monitoring list. If that does not occur, the county will be barred from opening more sectors of the economy, and schools will not be able to open for in-person instruction. It’s up to each of us to follow all the health precautions needed to help decrease the number of cases so we can begin to move forward once again.

Today’s City Council meeting

Today’s City Council meeting starts at 3 p.m. and can be watched on the website or city cable channel. Several traffic and mobility issues are on the agenda, including a new project to make the beach more accessible for people with disabilities.

You can see the full agenda on the city’s website. If you’d like to make comments, remember to sign up by 2 p.m. and then call in starting at 3 p.m. so you can provide your input verbally by phone.

Libraries in action

Despite the ups and downs throughout COVID-19, we continue to provide core city services. Our libraries are no exception. Library staff have gone above and beyond to make books and other materials safely available for pick up and returns through their curbside services. If you’ve ever wondered about the COVID-19 safety practices at our libraries with all the materials we lend (I have), you may find this behind the scenes video interesting. After materials are returned via curbside drop-off, they are separated into boxes and quarantined for 72 hours before being made available again to our community. It’s quite a process and done to keep our staff and community safe. If you haven’t yet, schedule your next curbside pick up here.

Face coverings

If you’re driving around town, I hope you see the new signs and banners we’ve installed. As a strategy to slow the spread of COVID-19, both the California Department of Public Health and County of San Diego require face masks to be worn in public.

 

Finally, I’d like to leave you with the latest graphic going around social media (our version is below) showing what you could be saying by wearing a face covering. We all have different reasons for why we wear (or don’t wear) a face covering. But at the heart of it, I ask you to look at it from a different perspective. Whether it’s to protect yourself or loved ones, help keep local businesses open or to show respect for others, wearing a mask can communicate a lot without words.

Whatever your reason is, know that your choice matters. Please mask up, do your part and help slow the spread. Wearing a mask is one of the best ways to demonstrate that you care in an important and visible way. Together, let’s #Care4Carlsbad.

 

July 16, 2020, 11:45 a.m.

The latest worrisome COVID-19 trend has to do with our younger residents, between 20 and 39 years old. This group now represents almost half the cases in the county to date, according to new statistics shared yesterday by the County Health and Human Services Agency.

A closer look at the data shows that after restaurants, bars, wineries, breweries, hotels and other businesses reopened, the number of San Diego County residents between 20 and 39 getting sick with COVID-19 began to rise rapidly.

During the second week of June, 510 San Diegans in that age bracket got sick with COVID-19. Another 1,144 got sick the following week, and during the last week of June the number jumped to 1,595. The figures began to decrease again when indoor activities at those same places were closed again. The total was down to 1,028 by the week ending July 11.

“The invincibles”

Some have started to refer to young people as “the invincibles,” partially because young people tend not to worry as much about health problems and partially because early reports showed COVID-19 was not likely to affect young people as much as older folks.

The county’s public health officer confirmed yesterday that not only are young people getting sick, but they are ending up at emergency rooms and needing hospitalization.

During the second week of June 10, a total of 16 San Diegans between 20 and 39 years of age were hospitalized. The figured dropped to 12 the following week and jumped to 27 the last week of June. Again, the number began to decrease when certain sectors of the economy were closed and was down to 18 by July 11.

Not like the flu

Dr. Scott Eisman, a pulmonary disease and critical care medicine expert at Scripps Memorial Hospital in Encinitas, spoke at yesterday’s news conference, warning that the novel coronavirus could cause serious health issues, especially in young people who smoke or vape. Dr. Eisman acknowledged that the mortality rate among younger people is lower than other age groups, but it is not zero.

He also stressed that getting COVID-19 is not “just like the flu,” which he often hears from younger people. In fact, according Dr. Eisman, COVID-19 complications are far greater, more serious and may be longer lasting. That’s because COVID-19 does not just affect the lungs. It’s been found to causes neurologic disorders, stroke (in young and old), weakness, cardiac malfunctions, kidney complications, and blood system and liver issues. He went on to explain that the medical community is still learning about this new disease, but with the 2003 SARS virus, which is similar, patients experienced decreased lung function for a year or longer.

Update on outbreaks

The number of COVID-19 outbreaks in community settings has followed a similar pattern of increasing as more activities have been allowed. In May, only eight community outbreaks were reported, and in June there were 33. Midway through July, we have already seen 38 in the county, with restaurants/bars and private residences the most common locations.

County hiring more case investigators

Due to the increasing number of COVID-19 cases, the county is hiring additional people to do case investigations, which are critical to quickly tracking and slowing the spread of COVID-19.

The county’s goal is to start investigations within 24 hours of cases being reported at least 70% of the time. This number had been dropping, then started to go back up, closer to the 70% goal. Over the last several days, however, the spike in new cases has resulted in only 46% of investigations starting within the 24-hour window.

Case investigators call or email people who have tested positive for COVID-19 to ask them to isolate themselves and find out about their close contacts. Bilingual applicants are especially encouraged to apply for the temporary position. The new hires will join the more than 510 case investigators and contact tracers currently working to stop the spread of the virus.

Update on triggers

In addition to the case investigations trigger, the county is missing two other benchmarks, community outbreaks and number of cases per capita.

Four new community outbreaks were reported by the county yesterday, in a hair salon, a barbershop, a restaurant/bar and a laboratory. A reporter asked if the lab was a COVID-19 testing location. County officials said it was, but was not a result of inadequate lab precautions. Instead, it involved workers interacting outside the work environment in a break area.

In the past seven days, 14 community outbreaks were confirmed, double the trigger number. The state’s threshold of no more than 100 cases per every 100,000 residents is also in the red, currently at 147.2 in San Diego County.

The rolling 14-day average of positive COVID-19 tests based on total tests is 6.3%, below the threshold of 8%.

Carlsbad has 16 more cases since my Tuesday update for a new cumulative total of 334, of which we estimate 167 are active right now.

Outdoor business operations

If, based on my Tuesday update, you were looking forward to getting your next haircut al fresco, I am afraid I have some bad news. The State Board of Barbering and Cosmetology has said that their state license requires hair services to be done in a licensed “facility,” which does not include moving outdoors. Local officials have appealed to the state to reconsider this limitation, some even sharing photos from the Spanish Flu of 1918 showing people getting a trim on the sidewalk. I’ll keep you posted as this evolves.

P.S. Am I the only one who didn’t realize “barbering” was a word?

The city has set up a website for other types of businesses that want to explore moving their operations outside. We’ve got a pretty simple process that involves two options:

1) Move into a private parking lot

2) Move into the city’s “right of way,” such as the sidewalk

The first option is free. The second costs a flat rate of $381, but can only be done in the Village and Barrio areas. We’ve put extra resources in place so that once a business fills out the application and provides all the needed information, we can process approval in about two business days.

Loan program update

Also on the business front, the city’s application for microloans is now available. There are options for large and small businesses, and the interest rate varies depending on how long the payback period is. All of the details are available on the city’s website.

In other news …

I know it seems like all you hear about these days is COVID-19 – I feel that way too. But, I want to assure you that city business is continuing. Earlier this week we had our 21st virtual City Council meeting. Combined with meetings of our boards and commissions, we have now held 46 online public meetings since the start of the local health emergency.

In addition to that, we have set up 527 city employees to work remotely, held over 1,000 Zoom meetings and conducted more than 7,000 internal meetings using other online collaboration platforms.

I know government gets a bad rap when it comes to innovation and technology, but I have to say I am very proud of our city team. Literally overnight our staff has transformed the way we do business, improvising and working together to make sure essential city services continued when most of the rest of the world was shut down. This has had the added benefit of reducing costs. For printing alone, we’ve taken what used to be about a $5,000 a month printing bill and reduce it to less than $300.

So, as they say, necessity is the mother of invention. We’ve made it work, and I am confident these new, more efficient ways of operating will continue long after our offices reopen to the public.

I’m meeting with city staff today (our largest virtual meeting to date) to check in and provide some updates. We strung together this series of video clips to help our staff see some of the great work that has taken place around the city since the start of the COVID-19 emergency. I thought you might like to see it too.

That’s it until next week. Please remember to follow all health precautions:

  • Cover your face
  • Keep 6 feet from others not in your household
  • Wash your hands often
  • Don’t touch your face
  • Avoid gatherings and crowds
  • Don’t go out if you’re sick

We can once again slow the spread, if we all take responsibility for our own actions and if we all continue to #Care4Carlsbad.

Thank you!

 

July 14, 2020, 1:40 p.m.

Yesterday the state decided to “turn the dial” on health order restrictions in two categories due to steadily increasing COVID-19 cases in California. The first doesn’t affect San Diego County because it merely makes restrictions already in place for counties on the “watch list” applicable to all counties. This includes closing down bars and banning indoor activities at restaurants, movie theaters, family entertainment centers, museums and zoos.

The second change goes into effect at midnight tonight and applies only to counties on the state’s watch list (which we are). It includes closing indoor activities at:

  • Gyms and fitness centers
  • Places of worship
  • Personal care services (nail and massage salons)
  • Hair salons and barbershops
  • Malls
  • Offices except for essential sectors

State and county officials have said part of the reason for the focus on indoor activities is because recent studies have shown airborne spread of COVID-19 to be a bigger problem than previously thought. So, yes, under the new rules you can get your haircut outside, just not indoors.

Supporting local businesses

The City of Carlsbad had already created a process for businesses to expand outdoors, either onto the sidewalk or into private parking lots. This new health order will surely make that option even more popular. Here’s a link to an NBC 7 story about one local restaurant, Jeune et Jolie, including before and after photos. It’s a dramatic transformation of a former parking area into a charming al fresco dining room, allowing for the proper separation between tables.

If you or someone you know has a local business and would like more information about this option, email business@carlsbadca.gov.

Testing update

Due to a decrease in testing supplies across the nation, the county is once again focusing testing on higher priority cases, including those with symptoms or who are members of high-risk groups such as:

  • Health care workers
  • First responders
  • Older adults
  • People with chronic medical conditions
  • Those who live in long-term care facility
  • People exposed to infected individuals where risk is high

This is significant because reopening businesses and returning to some semblance of normal life depend on our ability to separate people who are contagious from people who are healthy. You can only do that if you know who is sick, whether or not they have symptoms.

On a national level, an average of 656,000 people per day were tested over the past week, according to data collected by the COVID Tracking Project, far below the current nationwide target of 1.8 million daily tests. The target is based on a methodology developed by researchers at the Harvard Global Health Institute. (By the way, for my fellow data nerds, I highly recommend the website covidtracking.com. Volunteers aggregate the latest numbers on tests, cases, hospitalizations and patient outcomes from every U.S. state and territory and then make the data available as open data sets.)

According to the Harvard researchers, to slow the spread, we ideally want to have enough tests for anyone with flu-like symptoms to get tested plus an additional 10 people for every person who tests positive. That would be more than double the amount of testing capacity we have now. The number of tests needed to stop the spread is much higher. Here’s another good site – the Harvard Global Health Initiative, which has an article from last week about how all this works.

What’s the hold up on testing?

If testing scarcity feels like déjà vu, it is, only this time it’s for different reasons. According to an article in The Atlantic, four changes in June have led to the current situation:

  • Large companies began to test their employees en masse
  • Hospitals started to test every patient who needed an elective procedure
  • Nursing homes started regularly testing their employees and some residents
  • With tests more available to the public, many sought out tests directly rather than on the advice on their health care providers

This surge has overwhelmed labs and their suppliers. While the problem before was more about having enough test kits, the problem now is having the equipment and supplies needed to process tests in a timely manner. If the goal of testing is to get a real-time picture of spread, getting results back in a week doesn’t really help.

Yesterday the County of San Diego announced a new partnership with local biotech company Helix, which will start providing up to 2,000 tests a day for our region.

Positivity rate

We often get comments about whether or not reporting the total number of cases is meaningful. As testing became more available, the number of positive cases naturally increased too. That’s why county health officials (along with health experts around the world) focus on something called the “positivity rate.”

The positivity rate refers to the percentage of tests that come back positive. It’s not a perfect measure – often test results are received by the county as batches, which can throw off the daily totals. Also, if testing is not widely available and only those with symptoms are tested, the results are not a true reflection of the extent of the spread in a community.

Health experts vary in what the ideal positivity rate should be – anywhere from 5% to 10%. The state of California and County of San Diego both have a target of no more than 8%.

In the chart below, the purple line shows the 14-day average positivity rate in San Diego County. We are currently at 6%, which is a little lower than recent days. We’d been as high as 7% over the past week. On Sunday the state’s rolling average positivity rate was 8.3%.

Case data update

Even though I don’t want to focus on case numbers, I know many people are interested. Carlsbad has 51 new cases since my last report (last Thursday) for a new total of 318. We estimate 163 are currently active. San Diego County saw 2,506 new cases since my last update, bringing us past the 20,000 total case milestone for a new total of 20,348. Here are the latest charts and graphs from Monday’s county news briefing with other case data. You can see how Carlsbad’s case numbers compare to other cities in the region in this chart.

Youth sports

Another common question we get is about youth sports. The county health officer addressed this at yesterday’s news briefing. Right now, the only youth sports activities allowed follow the same guidance as camps. Organized games and leagues are not allowed yet. This includes school athletic programs. When the governor issues guidance for how youth sports can operate safely, the county can decide whether or not to update the local health order. For now, the governor has said not to expect any new guidance due to the recent increase in cases.

Open play gyms closing again

Unfortunately, the city needs to close our gyms again based on the new health order that goes into effect at midnight. We had previously made gyms available by appointment for people in the same household to play basketball. We will open back up just as soon as it’s safe to do so.

Tax time

As the July 15 tax-filing deadline − postponed from April 15 − draws near, the Internal Revenue Service is reminding all taxpayers who have yet to file their 2019 federal tax return to file electronically now, choose direct deposit for their refund or pay any tax owed electronically.

Taxpayers who owe for tax year 2019 or need to pay 2020 estimated taxes originally due for the first quarter on April 15 or the second quarter on June 15 can schedule an electronic payment up to the July 15 due date.

Taxpayers should use electronic options to support social distancing and speed up the processing of tax returns, refunds and payments. IRS.gov has a variety of options to help taxpayers. More information is available on the IRS website.

What’s that smell?

Among other things, 2020 has been the year of strange smells in Carlsbad. First we had what seemed like the world’s longest red tide event, blanketing the city in a stench that can best be described as a combination of dead fish and sewage (it was the former).

Yesterday the local Air Pollution Control District issued an air quality advisory for the region due to smoke from the fire aboard the USS Bonhomme Richard in San Diego Bay. Fortunately, Carlsbad’s air quality was not affected like other cities, but anyone with sensitivities to air quality should check with their health care providers for advice on outdoor activities. Unfortunately, the fire continues to burn. For official updates from the Navy, check this site.

Today’s City Council meeting

We’ll be providing a comprehensive COVID-19 update to the City Council at today’s meeting, including spending to date. You can see the full agenda on the city’s website.

The meeting starts at 3 p.m. and can be watched on the website or city cable channel. If you’d like to make comments, remember to sign up by 2 p.m. and then call in starting at 3 p.m. so you can provide your input verbally by phone.

Airborne spread

Finally, I’d like to leave you with the latest graphic going around social media (our version is below) showing just how far virus filled droplets can travel in the air. Everyone knows that sneezing and coughing near someone is just rude. But even breathing near someone spreads droplets. Singing and yelling spreads them even farther.

This is why face coverings have become so important. I know they can be uncomfortable, especially as the temperature rises. Please wear them anyways. By doing so, not only are you protecting others just in case you are part of the 10% of COVID-19 cases that show no symptoms, you are setting an example for others. Carlsbad has always been known as a community that cares for each other. Wearing a mask is a way to demonstrate that care in an important and visible way.

Thank you!

 

July 9, 2020, 12:05 p.m.

New outbreaks of COVID-19 in community settings (as opposed to nursing homes, etc.) continue to pop up throughout the region. Five new community outbreaks were confirmed July 7, bringing the seven-day total to 24, the highest number to date. To put this in perspective, the county’s trigger is seven outbreaks in seven days. In fact, our region has mostly exceeded that trigger since June 17.

About community outbreaks

Not surprisingly, we are getting questions from our residents about the locations of these outbreaks and whether it’s safe to go to the types of settings where outbreaks have been identified. Here’s a little more information about outbreaks:

  • An outbreak in a community setting is defined as three or more COVID-19 cases in people of different households.
  • The five new outbreaks represent 137 cases, but since the outbreaks are still active, the figure might increase (so, obviously, outbreaks can be much higher than just three cases traced to a single location).
  • Other than skilled nursing facilities, the specific locations of community outbreaks are not made public, but the county does contact tracing to notify people known to have been exposed. The county also provides sample letters and other materials to help businesses and other outbreak locations notify those potentially affected.

In terms of whether or not it’s safe to patronize businesses where outbreaks have occurred, please keep in mind that COVID-19 is known to be spreading in our community. That means whenever you leave home you have the potential to be exposed. The best advice is to act as if everyone you come into contact with could be contagious. Stay away from crowds, wash your hands, wear a mask and take all the other precautions recommended.

Other outbreaks stats

There has been a total of 180 outbreaks countywide since the beginning of COVID-19. Almost half, 86, are now closed/inactive, and 94 are still active. 

Out of the 94 current outbreaks:

  • 23 have been in skilled nursing facilities
  • There have been no new outbreaks in skilled nursing facilities since yesterday (2 outbreaks became inactive since yesterday) 
  • Outbreaks in skilled nursing account for 6% of total COVID cases 

27 are in non-skilled nursing facilities

  • No new outbreaks since yesterday 
  • Outbreaks in non-skilled nursing account for 7% (1,194) total COVID cases 

44 are in community settings 

  • 5 new outbreaks since yesterday 
  • Outbreaks in community settings account for 4% (74) total COVID cases 

Regarding the seven-day total of community setting outbreaks: 

  • 3 dropped off Tuesday 
  • 5 new were added (healthcare, restaurant/bar, gym, daycare and resort/spa settings)

Breakdown of community setting outbreaks by month 

How contact tracing works

When a person or “case” is confirmed, a case investigator from the county talks to the person who tested positive to find out about close contacts during the time the person was considered infectious. This infectious time frame is considered to be two days before symptoms appeared until the person was isolated at home. The people identified through this case investigation are known as the “contacts.”

The contact tracers focus on “close contacts.” That means having 15 minutes or more of close contact (within 6 feet) with someone known to have COVID-19. This may include:

  • Household members
  • Intimate partners
  • People who had unprotected (without a face cover) direct contact with infectious secretions of a COVID-19 case, for instance, someone who was coughed or sneezed on.
  • People who have been in a small, enclosed environment (such as a home, classroom, meeting room, restaurant, hospital waiting room, etc.) with the infected person.
  • Healthcare workers and others providing care to individuals with COVID-19 may be considered contacts as well if they were not using the recommended personal protective equipment such as masks, gloves, or goggles or following proper cleaning recommendations for handwashing and disinfection of objects and surfaces

Once contacts are identified, a contact tracer will reach out to contacts to notify them of their potential exposure to a COVID-19 case. The contact tracer will ask the contacts about COVID-19 related symptoms they may be experiencing and if they have any underlying medical conditions. They will answer questions and provide information, including how the contacts can help protect themselves and others from COVID-19 and where they can go to get tested.

All contacts are asked to quarantine themselves for 14 days, starting with the last time they were exposed to the infected person. Some contacts who are essential workers may be given a modified set of quarantine instructions. All contacts are asked to check their temperatures twice a day and watch for symptoms of COVID-19, which may include fever or chills, cough, shortness of breath or difficulty breathing, fatigue, muscle or body aches, headache, new loss of taste or smell, sore throat, congestion or runny nose, nausea, vomiting or diarrhea. If they develop any symptoms, they are advised to isolate themselves immediately and call their healthcare providers for medical advice.

Beware of scams

Unfortunately, criminals know that people may be expecting to hear from contact tracers, and they use this information to try to get your personal and financial information.  Here’s a link to information about a text messaging scam involving contact tracing. As with any other time you hear from someone you do not know, do not give out your personal information, such as social security numbers, and never give out credit card or bank account information.

Other case numbers

Carlsbad had 12 new COVID-19 cases reported yesterday for a new cumulative total of 267. We estimate the number of active cases is 145. Overall our case numbers are among the lowest in the region per capita, but as you can see by the chart below, no longer the lowest. That distinction now belongs to Poway:

The County overall reported 264 new positive cases yesterday and a 3% positivity rate (this is better than in recent days). The rolling 14-day average of positive tests compared to total tests is 5.8%, which is slightly lower than it has been. Here is a link to all the updated charts from yesterday.

Triggers for increasing health restrictions

Here’s the latest dashboard of county triggers. The case rate has gone up a little, testing positivity is the same. Community outbreaks are up. The county has made good progress in increasing the percentage of case investigations that begin within 24 hours of a new case being reported. It had dipped to 57% and is now at 64%. The goal is 70%.

Open Gym

If you’re looking for something new to keep you and your families busy, consider reserving time at one of the city’s three gyms. Now that we’re allowed to be open, we have set up a system to take reservations for individuals from the same households to book 45 minutes at a time on the basketball court. When you arrive, you’ll have half the gym all to yourself, separated by a curtain from the other side. To make a reservation, just call the gyms directly.

Calavera Hills Community Center, 760-602-4680
Stagecoach Community Center, 760-602-4690
Pine Avenue Community Center, 760-434-5022

As a reminder, please do not participate in pick-up games, even though you’re outside. Heavy breathing and close contact are ideal conditions to spread COVID-19.

Until next week …

The county has not planned any more news briefings until next week, but if anything comes up, as always, we will have information on the city’s website and social media channels. The City Council will meet next Tuesday after a couple of weeks of no meetings. The agenda will be posted to the city’s website by end of day tomorrow. It will include an update on the city’s overall response to the COVID-19 emergency and spending to date.

I hope you have an enjoyable weekend. Remember, the more each of us does to protect our own health and the health of others, the more quickly we can get back to a more normal way of life. Your actions really do save lives. Thank you for everything you have already done and continue to do to #Care4Carlsbad.

 

July 7, 2020, 11:10 a.m.

As expected, a new county health order went into effect at midnight barring indoor activities for the next three weeks at:

  • Dine-in restaurants (outdoor, pick up or drive-through can occur)
  • Wineries and tasting rooms
  • Movie theaters, family entertainment centers and cardrooms
  • Museums and zoos

In addition, all restaurants must close at 10 p.m.

We have an updated list of what’s open and what’s closed in Carlsbad here. You can view the updated county public health order here.

New outdoor options

To help support our local businesses, the city is allowing the temporary expansion of operations onto sidewalks and private parking lots. So far, we have about a dozen in some stage of doing this, and we hope it helps offset some of the business impacts caused by COVID-19.

Triggers for increasing health restrictions

On Thursday I went over the 13 county triggers and the eight state triggers, some of which overlap. For the county triggers, we are exceeding three: number of cases per 100,000 population, number of community outbreaks and the ability to initiate investigations into new cases within 24 hours. Over the past two weeks our overall positivity rate has been increasing toward the 8% trigger. It’s now at 6% (as a refresher, this refers to the number of positive cases as a percentage of the total number of tests completed).

Outbreaks

Outbreaks are tracked on a rolling seven day period. We currently have 21 recorded in the past seven days (the trigger established by the county is seven in seven days). About two-thirds were traced back to restaurants and bars.

Health officials have speculated that the combination of an indoor location, people socializing, and the inability to wear face coverings when eating and drinking has contributed to the number of outbreaks. In closing bars recently, officials cited the fact that alcohol impairs judgement as another contributing factor.

Case numbers

Now that I’m providing these updates just twice a week, the increase in case activity is more noticeable. Since my report last Thursday:

  • Carlsbad’s cases increased by 64 to a new total of 246. We estimate 135 are active at this time.
  • County cases increased by 1,304
  • Thankfully, no new deaths have been reported since last Thursday.

Here is a link to the latest charts and graphs from the county.

Case investigations

The ability to quickly investigate and track new cases is critical to slowing the spread of COVID-19, especially among those who may not know they have been exposed. The goal is to start an investigation within 24 hours of a new case being reported at least 70% of the time. With the sharp increase in cases, the county has started the investigation within 24 hours 67% of the time. County officials are lining up more investigators to keep pace with the increased number of cases.

County offices closed to in-person services

Due to the increase in cases, the county has closed its in-person services temporarily, but will still provide service online and by phone.

Marriage license and ceremony service appointments already booked will be honored, but the county is not scheduling new appointments through July. Here’s a run-down of other commonly requested services:

  • Document recording services (only by mail and through E-Recording)
  • Vital records request: birth, death, and marriage records (by mail or online)
  • Fictitious business name statements (by mail)
  • Official records copies (by mail or online)
  • Notary public registrations (by mail)
  • Authentications (by mail)

There will be no interruption to Assessor/Recorder/County Clerk phone and email information services. Many customer services are available online at www.SDARCC.com:

Assessor services: 619-236-3771 
Recorder services: 619-238-8158
Marriage/birth/death records and fictitious business names: 619-237-0502

Check www.SDARCC.com for weekly updates and changes or email Arcc.fgg@sdcounty.ca.gov. The mailing address is P.O. Box 121750, San Diego, CA 92112

Hand sanitizer warning

Washing hands with soap and water is one of the best ways to avoid infection, but health experts acknowledge that it’s not always possible. In these cases, hand sanitizer is recommended.

Based on a health warning issued yesterday by the CDC, be sure to check the ingredients of your hand sanitizer. Most commercially available alcohol-based hand sanitizers contain either ethanol or isopropanol as active ingredients.

Methanol, a “toxic alcohol,” has been used as an active ingredient in some brands made in Mexico, prompting recalls. Methanol can cause blindness and death when absorbed through the skin or when swallowed. You can see the list of manufacturers and brands on this FDA website.

No City Council meeting this week

The City Council’s next meeting is Tuesday, July 14, 3 p.m. We will continue with the virtual meetings for now, but you can still participate by signing up to make a live comment or by emailing your comments. If you don’t already subscribe, I encourage you to sign up for email notifications about City Council meetings and agendas. There is a blue button on the city’s home page called email notifications right above the news headlines:

Other meetings

Our boards, commissions and other public committees also continue to meet online. This week we have the Housing Element Advisory Committee meeting Wednesday at 3 p.m. This group was appointed by the City Council to help ensure the city’s updated housing plan reflects the community’s needs, values and priorities. We’re on a tight deadline to get our housing plan updated to reflect the latest population projections.

All cities are required to demonstrate to the state how they will accommodate housing needs for all income levels, based on a formula that takes into account local jobs, community demographics and other factors. In the coming weeks, we’ll be seeking public input on the criteria for selected sites where this new housing should go. I will send you a link to the site to give input once it’s ready.

Fun things to do

City staff are continuing to plan activities to do from home and new ways of accessing existing programs. Here’s what’s up for this week:

Playwright Project
Through a lesson and materials created by professional writers from the Playwrights Project, families can learn how to write short monologues and scenes from interviews with their loved ones. Submit your family script and it could be selected to be read by professional actors and posted on our website. What a great way to capture family history.

Streaming Services
New free video streaming services and digital comics are now available to Carlsbad City Library cardholders. Watch a British sitcom or mystery, study art, science or history, access top digital comics and graphic novels. Available 24/7 from any personal computer, mobile device or tablet with internet connectivity and through the RBdigital app. Made possible by the Friends of the Carlsbad Library. 

Culinary Lab (adults 50+)
Learn how to cook delicious and nutritious meals each week in Culinary Lab Lunch Hour. Instructor Kyle Dixon will host a free weekly lunch hour cooking lesson through Zoom. Students will receive the recipe in advance, to have all ingredients on hand to cook along with Kyle! Thursdays from noon – 1 p.m.

Lecture series (adults 50+)
The Senior Center will be offering free Zoom lectures from UCSD Osher Lifelong Learning Institute. With topics such as arts, medicine, law and international relations there is something for everyone. Join us every Thursday from 9:30 to 11:30 a.m. There will be a short discussion after the recorded lecture.

Thank you

You might have seen that the City of Carlsbad did end up closing our beach parking lot for the July 4 weekend, following a request from the state Office of Emergency Services late Thursday. We also had extra patrols plus volunteers out along the beaches handing out masks and reminding people to keep a 6-foot distance from others. By and large the crowds were thinner than usual, and those we talked to were respectful and cooperative.

I’m not going to sugar coat it – things are not headed in the right direction when it comes to COVID-19. I understand it’s been hard – all of us have had our routines disrupted. Many have lost jobs. Kids are getting antsy at home. Older family members and friends are lonely.

The quickest way to get things back to some semblance of normal is to reduce the number of new cases, and the best way to do that is to follow the same health precautions we’ve been promoting all along. If each of us does our part, we can slow the spread. We’ve done it before. We know what works. Please recommit today. Your actions really do save lives.

The county health officer will give an update during today’s Board of Supervisors meeting. If you’d like to watch or listen online, here is a link.

 

July 2, 2020, 11:50 a.m.

As we head into a holiday weekend known for neighborhood get-togethers and backyard barbecues, COVID-19 cases are increasing more quickly than ever. New restrictions are being put in place across California, and yesterday county health officials said we too are headed for the state’s “watch list” as soon as tomorrow.

False sense of security?

We are, in a way, victims of our own success. Early on, we hunkered down, closed down schools, businesses, beaches and pretty much any type of activity where people come into close contact with one another. It worked. We bought ourselves time to increase the capacity of our health care system, get needed supplies and ventilators in place, and “socialize” new behaviors like wearing masks and keeping 6 feet from others when we are out in public.

When we started to reopen, understandably, people were eager to get out, get back to some sense of normalcy. Things were going OK, until they weren’t. We’re now seeing the highest numbers to date in number of cases, hospitalizations and ICU admissions.

Diseases take time to incubate, and they spread exponentially. The cases we see today were likely contracted two weeks ago, some from people who didn’t even realize they were contagious. It’s imperative we do everything we can in the coming days to slow the spread.

New autopsy data

COVID-19 is caused by a novel coronavirus, meaning a virus that is new. Because so little is known about it, we’ve already seen medical advice change, the list of symptoms grow and treatment approaches evolve.

At first, the medical system was too busy caring for the sick to perform autopsies on the dead. Now that is starting to change. Yesterday’s Washington Post reported findings from the first large batch of autopsy reports from patients age 32 to 90 who died at six different institutions. The results should give us all pause:

“Among the most important findings, consistent across several studies, is confirmation the virus appears to attack the lungs the most ferociously. They also found the pathogen in parts of the brain, kidneys, liver, gastrointestinal tract and spleen and in the endothelial cells that line blood vessels, as some had previously suspected. Researchers also found widespread clotting in many organs.”

One report showed that oxygen deprivation of the brain and the formation of blood clots could start early in the disease process, which could change how people are treated at home, even if they don’t need to be hospitalized.

I’m certainly no medical expert, and we have already seen that conclusions about COVID-19 released one day could change the next. I share this information only to emphasize that with all that remains unknown about this novel coronavirus, we must do everything we can to avoid infection and avoid infecting others.

“Watch list” and what that means

The state has six triggers or criteria it’s monitoring to flag counties where additional health precautions may be needed:

  1. Average case rate of more than 150 per 100,000 in population, based on a seven-day average. We are at 191
  2. Average case rate of more than 100 per 100,000 in population, based on a 14-day average.  We are at 105
  3. Average of more than 25 new cases per 100,000 in population and an 8% or higher rolling seven-day average of cases compared to number of tests. We are 5.5%
  4. Increase in hospitalizations of 10% or more (this is calculated by taking the average of the past three days and comparting it to the average of the three days before that). We are at 6%
  5. Less than 20% of staffed ICU beds are available. We have 33% available
  6. Less than 25% of ventilators are available. We have 66% available

On June 30, the San Diego County was flagged because it surpassed the state’s trigger of no more than 100 positive cases per every 100,000 residents. (The data shows we are also over the seven-day trigger. You can get the explanation of that and more details about the state’s triggers by watching the news conference where the state watch list is explained.)

If the county has another day over that threshold, our county will be placed on the state’s “watch list” on July 3 and monitored for an additional three days.

If the average 14-day rate of new cases does not fall below 100 per 100,000 in population by July 6, then we would be required to adopt more restrictive measures for three weeks, including closing bars (San Diego has already done this) and closing indoor activities at:

  • Restaurants
  • Movie theaters, family entertainment centers and cardrooms
  • Museums and zoos

To date, 19 other counties have already reached this point.

County triggers

The state has six triggers or criteria it’s watching; the county has 13.

As you can see, we are over the threshold for community outbreaks and our ability to trace cases. In terms of outbreaks, here are the sources:

Carlsbad numbers

Carlsbad has 22 more cases than my last report on Tuesday for a new total of 182. We estimate 86 are currently active, the highest by far since the start of the pandemic. In terms of cases per 100,000 in population, we still have the lowest in the county, but the number is going up.

Here is a link to all the charts and graphs released by the county yesterday. And here’s a link to the county website with the interactive dashboard and more detailed info.

Stay Safe to Stay Open campaign

We’ve officially launched our Stay Safe to Stay Open campaign, working with the Carlsbad Chamber of Commerce and the Carlsbad Village Association. Check out this new video and please share it on your social media channels with the hashtag #StaySafeStayOpen.

You should also be seeing social media posts from the city and local businesses and their employees urging the public to follow the recommended health precautions so they don’t have to close again.

State beach parking lots closed for the weekend

The state announced it will close all state beach parking lots for the holiday weekend, Friday through Sunday. This includes the Tamarack parking lot and the Ponto parking lot. Beaches will remain open. The county explained the rationale for keeping beaches open – no outbreaks have yet been traced to outdoor locations. Indoor spread seems to be the biggest concern.

The city will not close any of our parking (Carlsbad Boulevard, etc.), but we will have officers and others out helping to ensure compliance with physical distancing, face covering and no gathering. Please help by doing everything you can to demonstrate adherence to the health precautions. Let’s face it, the only way we are going to beat this is if each of us takes individual responsibility. Your leadership will make a huge difference. People look to their friends and neighbors for social cues. Setting the right example will increase overall compliance.

A final plea

As we have seen in the past three months, we CAN slow the spread of COVID-19. If we each do our part, case numbers will once again go down, lives will be saved, more businesses will survive and fewer people will lose their jobs.

  • DO NOT gather with friends yet. It’s too soon
  • Don’t let your teens get together with friends; don’t arrange play dates for your kids. City camps are open if you’re looking for kids’ activities. Again, we are enforcing very strict health precautions (you can see how this is working in this video)

  • Don’t just bring your face covering with you when you leave home, have it visible, around your neck, so people start to see that this is expected
  • When in doubt, put it on, and always wear it when you enter a business, take public transportation and any other time when you might come within 6 feet of someone not from your household
  • Wash your hands often (and bring sanitizer with you); don’t touch your face
  • Become familiar with the symptoms of COVID-19 (this list is getting longer as health experts learn more)

With the holiday weekend coming up, please take this to heart. I know it’s hard. We want to see our friends again. We miss our extended families. But the stakes are high, and we need to stick close to home and follow all the recommended health precautions.

Holiday schedule

City offices will be closed tomorrow for the holiday. Trash pickup schedule is normal this year because the holiday falls on a Saturday. I’ll be back Tuesday, and in the meantime you can get updates from all the usual sources:

City’s COVID-19 webpage
City social media
County of San Diego COVID-19 page
State COVID-19 page

You are also welcome to reach out at any time with questions or concerns. Email communications@carlsbadca.gov or post a comment on social media.

Thank you for supporting the city and our community during this time. Your individual actions make a difference!

 

June 30, 2020, 11:25 a.m.

Carlsbad has 33 more COVID-19 cases since my last update, bringing the total cases in Carlsbad to 160. We estimate 68 are currently active. That might not seem like a lot in a city of over 100,000 people, but it’s a big change from just a few weeks ago.

The county yesterday reported the single highest day of new COVID-19 cases at 498, which is 7% of those tested. Again, this is an increase – it had been hovering around 2-3%. The rolling 14-day average of positive cases compared to the total number of tests is now 4.1%. Here is a link to all the charts and graphs from yesterday’s news conference. I think the graph below pretty much sums up the situation we’re in:

Bars, wineries and breweries to close again

At midnight tonight all local bars, wineries and breweries that do not serve food must close again and stay closed until further notice. For those that do serve food, you must sit at a table (no standing) and may only order alcohol with food.

The county is making this change because of the increasing number of outbreaks in the region and an increase in hospitalizations. Many of the outbreaks have been linked to bars and restaurants.

Also at yesterday’s news conference the county announced it will hold off on any new openings through July.

Cases trending younger

A growing number of cases are being identified in young people, especially those between the ages of 20 and 29. At the end of April, 15% of all cases reported were in people in that age range. Now, that percentage has increased to 22%. In addition to bars and restaurants, outbreaks have been traced back to in-home gatherings like family parties and backyard barbecues. To date, according to the county, the recent protests do not seem to have caused an increase in cases.

Some of you have asked, and the county was asked yesterday, why protests were allowed to proceed when other outdoor gatherings were not. The state has exempted protests from the no gathering rule because freedom of expression is a constitutionally protected right.

County triggers

The county has once again met its trigger of seven community outbreaks in the past seven days. The increase in hospitalizations has fallen below the trigger level, which is good news.

What’s next?

The county identified three critical triggers – outbreaks, hospitalizations and the supply of personal protective equipment. A reporter yesterday asked the county health officer why restrictions were not put back in place the first time one of these triggers was met. She explained that the county initially followed up with individual outbreak sources, like restaurants, for enforcement as needed. With the coming holiday weekend, trends in cases and closures in surrounding counties, the county decided it now needs to close all bars, breweries and wineries. These establishments tend to draw a younger crowd, and people tend to need to yell or stand near each other to talk, both of which increase the opportunity for spread.

Visitors to San Diego

Another issue that has come up is whether tourists from Arizona are the reason for the sudden increase in cases. The county does track where people with COVID-19 live, and so far, only 16 people total have been traced to Arizona, but seven of those were in the last week.

Help us help you

The city is working with the Carlsbad Chamber of Commerce and the Carlsbad Village Association to promote greater adherence to the health precautions needed to slow the spread of COVID-19 in Carlsbad. I’ve mentioned a city loan program and other components of a $5 million economic revitalization package approved by the City Council to help businesses affected by COVID-19.

This will all be for naught, however, if people don’t do their part to help our local businesses stay open. Can you imagine being a bar owner and after taking all the steps needed to reopen safely, after three months of closure, only to close again? It’s heartbreaking for our local businesses. You can help not just by patronizing our local businesses as much as you can, but also by taking the needed precautions:

  • DO NOT gather with friends yet. It’s too soon. You can eat together in a restaurant under very strict conditions
  • Don’t let your teens get together with friends; don’t arrange play dates for your kids. City camps are open if you’re looking for kids’ activities. Again, we are enforcing very strict health precautions
  • Don’t just bring your face covering with you when you leave home, have it visible, around your neck, so people start to see that this is expected
  • When in doubt, put it on, and always wear it when you enter a business, take public transportation and any other time when you might come within 6 feet of someone not from your household
  • Wash your hands often (and bring sanitizer with you); don’t touch your face
  • Become familiar with the symptoms of COVID-19 (this list is getting longer as health experts learn more)

Positive cases at the city

The city has taken extensive precautions since the very early days of COVID-19, switching to teleworking practically overnight, putting in place health screenings for those who still needed to report to a city facility, retrofitting workspaces, providing washable face coverings and providing training on all the new protocols. I am proud to say that thanks to these efforts, we did not have a single case, including our first responders, for 98 days.

But, now we have. Two, in fact. The first case was the week before last – someone who works at our Faraday Administration Center. Last Saturday we had our second case, an employee at Alga Norte Aquatic Center. Fortunately, that employee had not been at work since June 19, which is before the facility reopened to the public.

All along the city has committed to sharing as much information as possible with the public about COVID-19, which is why I wanted you to know about these cases, even though neither involved public contact. Both employees are resting at home, and we wish them a speedy recovery.

Unfortunately, I expect we will see more employee cases, given the level of community spread that is now occurring. Please know that we will continue to take all recommended precautions (and then some) to limit spread among our staff. If a staff member who had public contact tests positive, we will notify those potentially exposed. I hope this never happens, but we have a plan in place in case it does.

Contact tracing

With more cases, the county’s trained contact tracers are actively working to limit potential outbreaks. You could be contacted if you are identified as someone who came into close contact with a person testing positive for COVID-19. Here’s what to expect:

You can read more about contact tracing here.

Let’s do this!

As we have seen in the past three months, we CAN slow the spread of COVID-19. If we each do our part, case numbers will once again go down, lives will be saved and more businesses will survive.

With the holiday weekend coming up, please take this to heart. I know it’s hard. We want to see our friends again. We miss our extended families. But the stakes are high, and we need to stick close to home and follow all the recommended health precautions.

Given the uptick in COVID-19 activity, the county is having news conferences today and tomorrow at 2:30 p.m. You can watch live or watch after the fact on the county’s social media channels. Significant developments will be reported on the county’s news page. Our channels will also be updated regularly, and the main county and state pages remain reliable sources of information.

City’s COVID-19 webpage
City social media
County of San Diego COVID-19 page
State COVID-19 page

You are also welcome to reach out at any time with questions or concerns. Email communications@carlsbadca.gov or post a comment on social media.

Thank you for supporting the city and our community during this time. Your individual actions make a difference!

 

June 25, 2020, 11:45 a.m.

Yesterday the county reported the single highest day of new COVID-19 cases at 332. Carlsbad has had 12 new cases reported since Tuesday for a new total of 127, of which we estimate 42 are currently active. Outbreaks aren’t reported by the city, but overall the county has exceeded the seven outbreaks in seven days metric for the past week.

Overall, yesterday’s positive cases represent 5% of those tested, and the 14-day rolling average of positive tests is still relatively low at 3.1%. But that number is inching up, as you can see by the chart below. (Here is a link to all the charts and graphs released by the county yesterday).

What does all this mean? We must do more.

Still in early stages

We are still in the very early stages of this global pandemic, even though I know it feels like we’ve been at this for a very long time. In reality, it’s been about three and a half months. The initial goal of the health orders was to slow the spread so we could build up our health care capacity. That means securing enough masks and other protective equipment for health care workers and first responders, setting aside ICU beds and ventilators, and creating a “surge capacity” in the health care system.

Another key goal was to get testing and tracing in place so when new cases were reported, we could better manage them to limit the spread. This has also been achieved.

What reopening means

The fact that we are now reopening much of the economy and able to resume many of our usual activities is based on two things: 1) we are prepared to handle an influx of new COVID-19 cases and 2) at a certain point, the unintended consequences of shutting down the economy and limiting the public’s ability to leave their homes became a greater concern than the virus itself.

Reopening does NOT mean the threat of COVID-19 infection is any lower than it was on day one. This is still a highly contagious virus and one about which little is known. The initial list of symptoms (tightness in the chest, trouble breathing and a fever) has now expanded to more than a dozen. At first heath experts didn’t think masks made a difference; now they are required. We still don’t know why some people show symptoms and others don’t. We also don’t know if you can get it again once you’ve been infected or how long you might have immunity.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, we are not likely to see a vaccine widely available until next year. Only then will we be able to return to some sort of normalcy.

We need your help

Yesterday county health officials joined the governor in holding news conferences stressing the importance of public cooperation. Yes, health orders are enforceable by law, but from a practical standpoint, no municipality has enough officers to approach every group at a public park to ask if they are from the same household. Similarly, we can’t ask every person not covering their face if they have a medical reason. We need this to become an expected part of daily life.

Can you imagine standing in a crowded place and sneezing without covering your mouth and nose? I hope not! We need the same social pressure that prevents us from coughing in someone’s face to make it unacceptable to enter a store without a face covering or to wait in line closer than 6 feet from the person in front of you.

No safe gathering

The outbreaks being tracked by the county over the past week have been at businesses, campgrounds, a social club, a restaurant, private homes and a federal building. In other words, anywhere people come into contact with those not in their own households presents an opportunity for the spread of this virus.

I know how much everyone wants to get back to some sense of normalcy. We are just not there yet.

What’s next?

Last week the county said it was pausing further reopening in light of current case numbers and outbreak activity. On Tuesday, the County Board of Supervisors voted to request that the governor issue guidelines for several new areas:

  • Wedding receptions
  • Religious services without restrictions
  • Street fairs
  • Playgrounds
  • Hotel conferences/conventions
  • Team competitions

Some people were confused by this action. At yesterday’s news conference, county officials said that requesting guidelines from the governor did not mean these things would reopen immediately. It just means that organizations will have more time to get plans in place so they’re ready once they are allowed to reopen.

Compliance and funding

At yesterday’s news conference, the governor expressed frustration that some counties are not taking the proper steps to protect public health (San Diego is NOT included in this group). He went on to say that counties could risk losing their share of CARES Act funding (the federal relief package) if they do not take the right steps to limit the spread of COVID-19.

Update on city openings

Here is an updated dashboard link showing what’s open in Carlsbad. The latest changes include basketball half courts, which we’ve now partially opened (every other court to create more distance).

I also would like to put a plug in for our annual summer reading program. Our library staff has worked double time to make this year’s virtual program fun and engaging for all ages. This is a great way to encourage kids to keep up their skills over the summer, and adults can get in on it too! Who couldn’t use the unmatched escape provided by a good novel right now?! Get more information on the city’s website.

As a reminder, these updates have moved to twice a week, on Tuesdays and Thursdays. The county has not scheduled another news conference until Monday, although the governor is expected to go live today at noon. If there are any significant announcements, we’ll post them on our website and social media.

City’s COVID-19 webpage
City social media
County of San Diego COVID-19 page
State COVID-19 page

You are also welcome to reach out at any time with questions or concerns. Email communications@carlsbadca.gov or post a comment on social media.

Your leadership needed

By reading all the way to the end of this update, you are, by definition, someone who cares about this city and wants to be engaged. You stay up to date with accurate information. You are the kind of person the city needs to help set an example.

Please reinforce the use of face coverings and physical distancing. Even if you’re not close enough to need to put on your mask, keep it visible so people can see it. If your friends invite you over, politely explain that your family is holding off on gatherings for the time being.

This won’t be forever, but it’s important for now.  Thank you!

 

June 23, 2020, 10:55 a.m.

The governor and county held separate COVID-19 news conferences yesterday with a common theme: we must, as individuals, do more to slow the spread.

An increase in COVID-19 cases was inevitable as things began to reopen and people started to interact more with those outside their immediate households. The size and rate of the increase, however, is within our control.

Troubling signs

Yesterday, the county saw the second day in a row with more than 300 new COVID-19 cases. Carlsbad’s cases have increased by 17 since my Friday update to a new total of 115. We estimate that 30 are active.

The percentage of new cases compared to the number of people tested is one of the key metrics county health officials are tracking. It’s been hovering around 2-3% daily. On Sunday the “positivity rate” was 7%. While tracking daily case numbers is important, county health official said a better indicator is the 14-day average percentage of positive tests which, while slightly rising, continues to hover around 3%.

Outbreaks

Community outbreaks of COVID-19 are one of 13 triggers the County is closely monitoring to determine whether additional measures are necessary to prevent the spread of the virus.

Last Thursday our region hit the community outbreak trigger of seven new outbreaks in seven days. Health officials were hopeful the number would go down Friday when three of those outbreaks fell off the list. Instead, due to new outbreaks, we have remained at or above that trigger for the past five days.

Three additional COVID-19 community outbreaks were reported yesterday, bringing the latest total to 10 over the past seven days. Since the three new outbreaks occurred in three different types of settings and in different parts of the county, health officials said there is no need for more restrictive measures at this time.

When asked for details about recent outbreaks, county officials said there wasn’t a trend in terms of the types of gatherings. Of the three new outbreaks, one was traced to a retail store, one to a manufacturing business and one to a construction business. Past outbreaks have been linked to restaurants, family gatherings and backyard barbecues.

The new outbreaks have been relatively small (a handful of cases each, not dozens). So far, county health officials have not traced any outbreaks to recent protests, which had been a concern.

What you can do

The takeaway is this – any time you are in close proximity of people you don’t live with, you risk spreading COVID-19. Yep, here’s the list again. To slow the spread of COVID-19 in our community:

  • Wash your hands thoroughly and often
  • Don’t touch your face
  • Keep a 6 foot distance between yourself and those not in your household
  • Bring a face covering with you when you leave home. Put it on when entering businesses or anywhere else where you could come into contact with others
  • Avoid crowded places
  • Stay home if you have symptoms

Symptoms

Speaking of symptoms, the list continues to grow as health experts learn more about the new virus. The current list includes:

  • Fever or chills
  • Cough
  • Shortness of breath or difficulty breathing
  • Fatigue
  • Muscle or body aches
  • Headache
  • New loss of taste or smell
  • Sore throat
  • Congestion or runny nose
  • Nausea or vomiting
  • Diarrhea

If you experience any of these symptoms, please contact your health care provider. If you don’t have one, call 2-1-1 to speak with a public health nurse for free.

Hospital and ICU capacity

Even though we are seeing more cases, they have not yet resulted in an increase in hospitalizations. Hospital bed and ICU capacity are important indicators being monitored by health officials, and these tend to show up after new cases are detected.

Next steps for health restrictions

The big question on people’s minds is whether or not the county will start to re-impose health restrictions. At yesterday’s news conference, officials said the most likely next step was to take action against specific businesses or other community settings experiencing outbreaks, rather than shut down entire sectors of businesses or activities. The county did say it would pause for now the reopening of additional sectors of the economy, even if the state releases new guidance.

Pools and camps

Yesterday the city marked a big milestone with the opening of our city pools, community centers and “enrichment” camps (things like art, science, etc. Sports camps opened last week).

Pools are open now for lap swim, recreation swim and aquatic fitness classes. Individual swim lessons are expected to begin on Monday, June 29. To follow all health and safety guidelines, you must make a reservation for pool time in advance. Unfortunately, this means you cannot just drop by the pool like you normally would. Learn more and reserve your pool time online.

A proposal to remember

We knew people would be excited to get back into the water, but we had no idea how much. The photo below is of Cathy, a long time Alga Norte swimmer, and her partner, Jon. Jon knew it was a special day for Cathy to be back in the pool (she is a lifelong swimmer).

So, he decided to propose!

(They don’t have masks on because they are in the same household)

Cathy summed it up best: “Thank you so very much! I am beyond thrilled and stunned that this proposal took place at my favorite place — in the pool at Alga Norte Aquatic Center! And on Welcome Back day! And on a summer day! Life doesn't get any better. 😊 I am so grateful you took photos and a video. Looking at them, I am still amazed. This is also a good time to extend my utmost appreciation to the team there at Alga Norte. I am a lifelong swimmer and everyone there makes me feel so welcome.”

Congratulations to the happy couple. We are honored to be a part of your life’s story.

P.S.  #shesaidyes

SEA LIFE Aquarium now open

Keeping with the water theme, LEGOLAND’s SEA LIFE aquarium reopened Saturday. Since closing, the 4,000 sea creatures that call the aquarium home have been thriving. A new baby cuttlefish is ready for visitors, and the birth of baby horn sharks is expected soon. You can even learn about our recent bout of bioluminescence during a special “Sea at Night” feature.

For the safety of visitors, the aquarium’s capacity will be limited, and physical distancing and cashless payment systems have been put in place, along with enhanced cleaning regimes. SEA LIFE is requiring guests to purchase tickets online in advance to reserve access to the aquarium for their desired dates and time to visit. Face coverings will be required for all guests 3 years old and up and staff members. For more information, visit www.legoland.com/california.

DMV driving tests

I know our community has been particularly concerned about the effects of the COVID-19 health orders on our younger residents who have missed important milestone events like prom, graduation and sports championships. There is at least some good news on this front for those waiting to get their drivers licenses.

The California Department of Motor Vehicles will resume administering behind-the-wheel drive tests beginning Friday, June 26. In-vehicle testing is a requirement for first-time drivers and has been suspended since mid-March because of the COVID-19 pandemic. The DMV will first automatically reschedule all canceled drive test appointments.

The DMV anticipates it will take several weeks to complete testing for previously canceled tests before new appointments can be made. Like everything else, there will be new protocols and precautions in place, including a slightly shorter test, which should come as welcome news for nervous teens!

Tonight’s City Council meeting

Don’t forget we have a big City Council meeting tonight – not only are we providing our regular update on the city’s response to COVID-19, we will also be presenting the final city budget for adoption.

We are continuing with our virtual meetings, which start at 3 p.m. Get all the details, read the agenda and find out how to provide comments on the city’s website.

As a reminder, these city updates have moved to twice a week, on Tuesdays and Thursdays. You can stay current on COVID-19 through the links below.

You are also welcome to reach out at any time with questions or concerns. Email communications@carlsbadca.gov or post a comment on social media.