• Email
  • Print

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.

Oct. 29, 2020, 12:30 p.m. 

Tuesday’s state update on county tier assignments brought some good news for San Diego. Thanks to a high testing rate and efforts to support those most vulnerable to COVID-19, the state adjusted San Diego’s case rate down from 7.4 per 100,000 in population to 6.5. This is important because a case rate of 7 or higher would have starting the clock on potentially getting moved down to the most restrictive tier, purple, and having to close indoor operations at restaurants, among other businesses and activities. The next tier update will be Tuesday, Nov. 3.

Case data update

Here are the latest key metrics (increases shown are since my update Tuesday):

More Carlsbad-specific information is available on the “North Coastal” dashboard, including

  • COVID-19 rate by sex, ethnicity and age
  • Hospitalizations, ICU admissions and deaths

The county also tracks:

The chart below is something we’ve created to show cases per capita. Carlsbad is continuing to do an excellent job containing COVID-19 spread.  Please keep it up!

Here is a link to all the updated charts and graphs from San Diego County.

Community setting outbreaks

  • 13 new community outbreaks were reported yesterday: four in grocery settings, three in restaurant settings, two in business settings, two in health care settings, one in a day care setting and one in a government setting.
  • In the past seven days (Oct. 21 through Oct. 27), 31 community outbreaks were confirmed.
  • The number of community outbreaks remains above the trigger of seven or more in seven days.
  • A community setting outbreak is defined as three or more COVID-19 cases in a setting and in people of different households over the past 14 days.

Helping students succeed

Although there is not a lot of agreement about how school districts should respond to the COVID-19 pandemic, I think everyone shares the concern about how the disruption in learning is affecting our kids. At last night’s Carlsbad Unified School District board meeting, statistics were shared showing a notable increase in the number of students with Ds and Fs compared to previous academic years.

The city is a separate government entity from the school district, but our goals overlap in that we want to do everything we can to help Carlsbad kids succeed. Carlsbad City Library offers access to thousands of live, online tutors through a partnership with Tutor.com. (Career tutors are also available to help job seekers navigate a job search, work on a resume and prepare for an interview.) The service is free for Carlsbad City Library cardholders.

  • Tutors provide homework help for students in grades K – 12, as well as support for college-level work, resume writing and test preparation for SAT, GRE and more.
  • Feedback on writing assignments, including college and scholarship applications and cover letters, is available within 24 hours.
  • Princeton Review test prep materials are available for review and download.
  • Live tutoring in foundational subjects is also available in Spanish.
  • Live tutoring hours are 10 a.m. – 10 p.m. daily.

Please share this resource with your friends and families.

P.S. If you don’t have a library card, you can get one free online.

Power Plant coming down

No, your eyes are not playing tricks on you – some parts of the old power plant are actually see-through. At least enough pieces of the outer shell have been removed to allow light to shine through from side to side. The slow and careful dismantling of the Encina Power Station started before the COVID-19 pandemic was declared. Following a short hiatus, crews are back at it, and it’s becoming more and more noticeable to the naked eye.

Due to environmental concerns and the plant’s location, there won’t be a massive implosion. But the results will be just as dramatic. This large industrial building has been a prominent feature of Carlsbad’s coastline since the 1950s. The plant had to stop operating a few years ago because it uses ocean water for cooling, which is no longer allowed because it harms marine life.

A new, more efficient and smaller “peaker” power plant has already been built on the eastern portion of the property. As part of an agreement with the city, the property owner, NRG, will launch a community outreach process on the future use of the site once the old plant is torn down.  It’s going to be a while still – removing the physical structures is just part of the process of restoring the site for future uses. I know the reuse of this site is a topic of major interest in our community, and I will keep you posted on next steps.

Stay healthy on Halloween

County health officials are reminding the public that traditional Halloween celebrations are not advised, and large gatherings are not allowed, under the state or local health guidance. Halloween celebrations – such as parties and in-person, door-to-door trick-or-treating – pose a high risk of spreading COVID-19 and are strongly discouraged. Here is what the county’s health officer had to say yesterday:

“These activities involve face-to-face interactions with people from different households,” said Wilma Wooten, M.D., M.P.H., County public health officer. “If a COVID-19 infection is detected among a participant, it will be very difficult to find and notify those who may have been exposed.”

Dr. Wooten recommends the following safe Halloween activities to make sure children have a fun and safe celebration:

  • Online parties/contests such as costume or pumpkin carving.
  • Drive-through events and car parades.
  • Dressing up homes and yards with Halloween-themed decorations.
  • Movie nights with your own household or at a drive-in theater.
  • Pumpkin patches where people use hand sanitizer and maintain 6-feet of distance from others.

The city has compiled the county’s guidance as well as tips from the state and CDC on our website, and information about the city’s virtual event ideas.

Fall back this weekend

As long as you’re changing your clocks this weekend, City of Carlsbad public safety officials recommend making a few other quick changes around your home (Daylight Savings Time ends Nov. 1).

  • Smoke/CO detectors:  Change the batteries in your smoke detectors and carbon monoxide detectors.
  • Batteries:  Be sure to recycle old batteries by putting them in a plastic bag and setting them on top of your recycling cart on trash day. Better yet, consider using rechargeable batteries.
  • Test and replace:  Test your smoke detectors monthly to make sure they work. According to FEMA, smoke detectors last about eight to 10 years. Check the unit for a purchase date.
  • Timers:  Adjust the automatic timers controlling lights inside and outside your home. If you are not already doing so, consider putting lights on timers so your home looks occupied. A house sitting in the dark is a sign no one is at home. Watch a video about preventing burglary.
  • Home emergency kit:  Make sure your home emergency kit is up to date. If you don’t have one, put one together this weekend
  • Sprinklers: Check your automatic sprinklers to make sure you're only watering between 6 p.m. and 10 a.m.

Voting information

If you’ve set aside this weekend to fill out your ballot, here is a link to details about the General Election, including ballot drop off locations, poll dates and hours, and other information. Remember, polls are open for four days, Oct. 31 to Nov. 3. Because more space is needed to provide distance between voters, the Registrar of Voters has changed most polling locations to larger venues. This means you need to double check your assigned location before heading out, if you prefer to vote in person. It’s probably not the usual garage down the street.

I want to end by acknowledging that we are in a grueling marathon when it comes to COVID-19. Each of us is affected differently, but we are all affected. I really could not be more proud of how our community has adapted. Our relatively low numbers are evidence of this, and so are the many acts of kindness we see, week in and week out. Carlsbad is a city where people care for each other. The Great Kindness Challenge was created right here in Carlsbad. Next time you feel a little down, please watch this video, and I guarantee you will be filled with hope again.

I’ll be back next Tuesday. In the meantime, please remember:

  • Maintain a minimum 6-foot distance from people not from your own household.
  • Cover your face when you leave home.
  • Stay at home as much as possible. When you leave, avoid crowds.
  • Wash your hands often or use sanitizer if soap and water aren’t handy.
  • If you have COVID-19 symptoms or have any reason to think you may have been exposed, stay home and away from others until you know for sure.
  • Get your flu shot.

 

Oct. 27, 2020, 12:20 p.m.

If you stepped outside early this morning you probably noticed the familiar feel of a “Carlsbad winter,” with temperatures in the low 50s. Don’t worry, daytime highs are expected to be in the 70s and low 80s over the next couple of weeks. But the cooler morning air coupled with next weekend’s end to daylight savings time are part of our annual transition of seasons, slight as they may be.

Public health officials are worried about winter this year. They say the virus that causes COVID-19 spreads more when it is cold and dry. Plus, people tend to spend more time indoors, close together. That’s why we need to redouble our efforts to follow all of the recommended health precautions:

  • Maintain a minimum 6-foot distance from people not from your own household.
  • Cover your face when you leave home.
  • Stay at home as much as possible. When you leave, avoid crowds.
  • Wash your hands often or use sanitizer if soap and water aren’t handy.
  • If you have COVID-19 symptoms or have any reason to think you may have been exposed, stay home and away from others until you know for sure.
  • Get your flu shot.

School cases under scrutiny

The San Diego Union-Tribune is reporting three additional COVID-19 cases at Oceanside schools, one week after they resumed in-person classes. Even though district staff said they believed at least one of the cases was transmitted via a travel sports league not a classroom, they are quarantining more than 100 students and school staff.

To date, over 50 local school districts have returned to classroom instruction at least part of the time. The county is not currently tracking school-related cases on a daily basis, but county staff say they might add this count in the future. You can read the full article on the Union-Tribune website.

Case data update

We had a request for more details on Carlsbad cases, which the county started to track a few months ago. Here is what’s now available:

Carlsbad continues to do very well across all measures. The chart below shows hospitalization and mortality rates (the blank space under mortality means no confirmed deaths of Carlsbad residents). The numbers are displayed per 100,000 in population to compare apples to apples.

Here are the latest key metrics (increases shown are since my update last Thursday):

Here is a link to all the updated charts and graphs from San Diego County.

Community setting outbreaks

Yesterday the county reported one new community outbreak in a youth sports setting. In the past seven days (Oct. 19 through Oct. 25), 27 community outbreaks were confirmed.

The number of community outbreaks remains above the trigger of seven or more in seven days.

A community setting outbreak is defined as three or more COVID-19 cases in a setting and in people of different households over the past 14 days.

Today’s state tier announcements

Today the state is scheduled to give its weekly update on the county tier system. Last week we were right on the edge of falling to the lower tier for case numbers. We continue to be at the 7 cases per 100,000 limit, however until we see the official announcement, we won’t know for sure. That’s because case numbers are adjusted based on the amount of testing and something called the “health equity metric,” which has to do with how well a county is supporting those most vulnerable to COVID-19.

Keep in mind, even if our adjusted case rate does exceed the trigger to stay in the current tier (“red tier”), we need to exceed the case rate for two consecutive weeks before any changes are made. I will fill you in Thursday, but if you can’t stand the suspense, you can watch the update live at noon or after the fact on the California Department of Public Health’s YouTube channel.

Have a safer Halloween

I know many of you are looking for guidance on how to have a safe Halloween. The main message we are getting from the CDC, as well as state and county health officials, is this:  No traditional trick or treating.

Here’s why: The risk of COVID-19 spread increases when:

  • People of different households mix
  • When people have close interaction (like on a doorstep)
  • When people yell or breath heavily from running
  • When multiple people touch a surface (like a candy bowl)

The county also warns that if a positive case were discovered, contact tracing would be very difficult with traditional trick or treating.

Here is the official guidance from the county:

We are promoting these messages heavily on social media and elsewhere this week. Please also share with your friends and neighbors.

Our amazingly creative city staff have created a special virtual Halloween celebration, complete with creepy crafts and dangerously delicious recipes like spider web deviled eggs, Jack-o-lantern stuffed peppers, skull stuffed pizza, hot dog fingers, spider lollipops, brain Jell-O and more! Learn how to carve a cool pumpkin and enjoy some eerie entertainment.  All the details plus a shopping list are on the city’s website, along with other safer Halloween ideas.

Fire danger

In 2003, between Oct. 25 and Oct. 27, the Cedar Fire in San Diego County took 16 lives and over 3,000 structures. This is still one of the largest wildfires in California history. Yesterday we saw major fires break out just the north of us in Orange County, threatening Irvine, Lake Forrest and Yorba Linda (as of this writing). Tragically, two firefighters, ages 26 and 31, were gravely injured by severe burns, and tens of thousands have had to evacuate.

Unfortunately, our time will come again, when the combination of dry brush and Santa Ana winds mean even the smallest spark could turn into a massive fire. Rest assured the City of Carlsbad has invested heavily in public safety and preparedness. But for our community to truly be protected, we need your help. Please take a moment to review tips for preventing wildfires and preparing should one occur.

Local company ships 5 millionth COVID-19 testing kit

Last Tuesday, COPAN Diagnostics shipped the 5 millionth “Universal Transport Medium” used for COVID-19 tests, from its Carlsbad-based manufacturing facility, making the local company an integral part of the battle against this deadline disease.

The ramped up production became a reality thanks to the addition of a new 38,000-square-foot facility nestled in a Carlsbad business park. The expansive space has given COPAN the power to drastically boost production in the United States — from a former capacity of several thousand test kits per week to more than 840,000 a week — all within just a few months.

Without enough space in its Murrieta facility, and after an unsuccessful search for another site in the Temecula Valley area, COPAN set its sights on Carlsbad, since it’s well known as a life sciences hub.  After signing the lease in early June, they finished the interior and locked down all the permits and inspections within an unprecedented 26 days.

We appreciate the kudos in the official company announcement:

The City of Carlsbad was a key player in this fast track business plan, with employees working remotely to help COPAN secure all the necessary approvals in record time. “The City of Carlsbad was very, very collaborative,” Norman Sharples, COPAN Diagnostics CEO, said. “They were having to work remotely and electronically in these very unusual circumstances. They did this with great speed and we’re really thankful for the City of Carlsbad.”

You can read more about this innovative company and its COVID-19 testing materials here.

That’s all for today. I’ll be back Thursday with more updates. Thank you for everything you are doing to slow the spread. Your actions are making a difference. Keep up the good work!

 

Oct. 22, 2020, 12:05 p.m.

You might have noticed my update arrived later than usual Tuesday. That’s partially because we wanted to wait until after the state’s noon news conference when we were expecting new guidelines to be announced (theme parks, personal services and professional sports).

The state also makes county tier status adjustments on Tuesdays. San Diego’s case rate has been very close to the trigger of more than seven per 100,000 in population for weeks now. On Tuesday, the updated map showing the latest reported case rate had San Diego County at 7.1, putting us in the purple tier for that one metric. But the excel spreadsheet on the California Department of Public Health website listed our case rate as 7, which ended up being the correct number.

Yesterday the County of San Diego explained the data discrepancy that almost put us on the path to a lower tier and more restrictions. Certain populations are excluded from official case numbers, including prison inmates. This is because inmates are not in the community and therefore will not contribute to an increased spread of COVID-19. The state had inadvertently included two COVID-positive inmates in the original count. Removing them made the difference.

Your actions save lives

This is the most recent example of how every individual case makes a difference in our ability to keep our economy on the right path and resume as many of our normal activities as possible. When asked why case numbers have been on the upswing, the county health officer explained that when people slack off on precautions just a little and gather with people outside their own households, case numbers increase.

The return of students to in person instruction is being closely watched. So far there has been a slight increase in cases among those ages zero to 19. The chart below shows how school related outbreaks compare to total community setting outbreaks so far:

Riverside back to purple

Similar to San Diego County, Riverside County had been teetering on the edge of red and purple for weeks. On Tuesday, Riverside was, in fact, moved down to purple. This is not great news for San Diego County because people travel to and from neighboring counties all the time. Cases are recorded according to the county you live in, not necessarily where you contracted COVID-19. The map below shows the current status of all 58 counties.

State metrics

  • San Diego County’s state-calculated, adjusted case rate is currently 7.0 per 100,000 residents, again, right on the threshold of 7.
  • The testing positivity percentage is 3.3%. We only need 8% or less to be in the red tier for this metric.  This measure on its own would actually qualify San Diego County for the less restrictive orange tier. However, both measures must be in a new tier for two consecutive weeks before moving.

The California Department of Public Health’s next report is scheduled for Tuesday, Oct. 27.

Cases

The City of Carlsbad had 14 new cases since my Tuesday update for a new total of 809. We estimate 48 are active.

County of San Diego

  • 528 new cases were confirmed among San Diego County residents since my Tuesday report. The region’s total is now 53,263.
  • 3,800 or 7.1% of all cases have required hospitalization.
  • 879 or 1.7% of all cases and 23.1% of hospitalized cases had to be admitted to an intensive care unit.

Deaths

  • Six new COVID-19 deaths were reported in San Diego County on Oct. 20. The region’s total is now 863.
  • Four men and two women died between Oct. 16 and Oct. 20, and their ages ranged from mid-50s to late 90s.
  • All had underlying medical conditions.

Community Setting Outbreaks

  • Six new community outbreaks were confirmed on Oct. 20: two in business settings, two in restaurant settings, one in a healthcare setting and one in a restaurant/bar setting.
  • In the past seven days (Oct. 14 through Oct. 20), 32 community outbreaks were confirmed.
  • The number of community outbreaks remains above the county’s trigger of seven or more in seven days.

What is a “close contact?”

Yesterday the CDC updated its definition of “close contact,” based on a study that showed multiple brief contacts were just as risky as one 15-minute stretch. Before, the CDC warned against being within 6 feet of someone for 15 minutes or more. Now, it’s a cumulative total of 15 minutes within a 24-hour period. This new guidance comes from a prison study where guards became infected after multiple brief encounters with COVID-19 patients.

This definition is important because close contacts are those who get follow up communication during contact tracing. The study also shows that we need to continue to be very careful about keeping that minimum 6-foot distance from people not in our own households.

You can read about the study in the CDC’s Mobility and Mortality Weekly Report.

Testing

A few weeks ago, I reported that the City Council decided to allow businesses to operate in the western part of the parking lot of the Shoppes at Carlsbad (the Sears end). A company offering COVID-19 testing is one of the businesses that has applied for a permit to do this.

The clinic plans to operate from 7 a.m. to 8 p.m., by appointment only. Some kinds of tests will provide results in 20 minutes and others in two to four days. The cost will range from around $125 to $475, and the company expects to be able to see 190 patients a day.

There are plenty of free testing sites around the county too. Get information about these on the county’s website.

Guidance on who should be tested has evolved over time. According to yesterday’s county news release, the current recommendation is that people with and without symptoms who are at higher risk for COVID-19 should be tested. Health care and essential workers should also get a test, as well as people who had close contact to a positive case or live in communities that are being highly impacted. Contact your health care provider or call 2-1-1 to talk to a public health nurse to find out the specific recommendation for your situation.

City Council meeting recap

The new testing site was one of the announcements shared at Tuesday’s City Council meeting. We also had an update on how COVID-19 has affected the local economy and the city budget. You can watch the presentation here. Highlights include:

In terms of the city budget, the biggest impact so far has been revenue from hotel stays. Property tax is actually coming in higher than expected, but keep in mind that property tax is considered a “lagging indicator,” meaning economic impacts show up later in property tax revenue than in other sources like sales tax.

Voting reminder

Even though the official deadline for voter registration was Monday, you can still conditionally register and vote provisionally. What does this mean?

  • If you miss the registration deadline for an upcoming election, you can still vote by visiting:
    • The Registrar of Voters office at 5600 Overland Ave., San Diego, CA 92123, during the 14 days prior to and including Election Day, or
    • Your assigned polling place between Oct. 31 and Nov. 3.
  • You will complete a conditional voter registration form.
  • You will get a ballot and a green conditional voter registration provisional envelope.
  • Mark your choices on the ballot and place it inside the provisional envelope and seal it. Print and sign your name, and date the envelope.
  • Once your conditional voter registration form is verified, and it is confirmed that you did not vote elsewhere in the state for the current election, your registration will become active.
  • Your ballot will be removed from the provisional envelope and counted.
  • You will be considered registered for any future election if you are eligible to participate.

You can find out about other election information on our General Election website portal.

Grocery Grab going strong

Early on in the pandemic, I shared the story of a local group of teens who started a free grocery delivery business for seniors. I am happy to report Grocery Grab is still going strong!

The venture was recently featured in The San Diego Union-Tribune, which caught up with founder Nolan Mejia. Nolan said he had become concerned about how COVID-19 presented specific challenges for seniors and other groups who are immunocompromised or disabled. His own grandparents have family members in the area who could do their grocery shopping for them, but he wondered about all the people who didn’t have anyone nearby to help.

Nolan and his classmates at Sage Creek High School started the free grocery shopping service in Carlsbad, and it has now expanded to a Carmel Valley branch. I am proud to say that one of the city’s Community Emergency Response Team members served as a mentor to the group, helping to get it up and running.

Reading about people in Carlsbad caring for each other always brightens my day. As we head into the holiday season, I’m going to be sharing more of these stories with you. Now more than ever, focusing on the good in the world (and in our very own community) can help us cope with daily challenges just a little more easily.

Back in April, our communication team started the hashtag #Care4Carlsbad on social media. Please join me in sharing all the ways people in Carlsbad care for each other – whether it’s the simple act of wearing a mask to protect others or volunteering to help those in need, Carlsbad residents are engaging in acts of kindness every day. You can post these stories to your own social media and we’ll find them with the hashtag, or just email our communication team at communications@carlsbadca.gov.

Sweater weather (Carlsbad-style)

As we head into the final week before the end of daylight savings time Nov. 1, the weather forecast shows lower temperatures and even a chance of light rain this weekend, with a low of 68 degrees on Sunday. So, bundle up! (Yes, we are spoiled by our temperate climate, but isn’t that one of the main things that makes living in Carlsbad so amazing?!)

I’ll be back Tuesday. Have a great weekend and remember:

  • Avoid crowds.
  • Wear a face covering when you leave home.
  • Maintain at least a 6-foot distance from people not in your own household.
  • Limit gatherings to no more than three households and stay outdoors.
  • Wash your hands. A lot.
  • Stay home and away from others if you have any symptoms of COVID-19.

Thank you for continuing to do your part to #Care4Carlsbad.

 

Oct. 20, 2020, 5 p.m.

Last Friday the County of San Diego held an impromptu news conference warning that COVID-19 numbers were inching up in the county and imploring everyone to follow health precautions or risk subjecting local businesses to additional closures and restrictions.

State metrics

Today when the state reported out on county status, (covering Oct. 4 to Oct. 10), these concerns proved to be well founded.

  • The San Diego County adjusted case rate was initially reported at 7.1 per 100,000 population on the state’s website, but then corrected to 7. This .1 percent difference is significant because if the higher number were accurate, we would be just one more week away from potentially going back to the purple tier. We’ve been teetering on this metric for weeks now. At 7, we are in the clear for at least two more weeks.
  • Testing positivity percentage is 3.3%. The trigger is 8% or higher.

Here is a reminder of the tiers and what they mean:

Latest countywide case numbers

Since my update last Thursday, 26 more cases have been reported in Carlsbad for a total of 795. We estimate that 41 of those cases are currently active.

County
There have been 1,408 new cases reported countywide since my last update on Thursday, and total cases now top 52,735.

Outbreaks
In the past seven days reported (Oct. 12 through Oct. 18), 31 community outbreaks were confirmed. 

Here is a link to all the updated charts and graphs from San Diego County.

New guidance

Amusement parks
As home to LEGOLAND California, Carlsbad has been closely watching for news of theme park safety guidelines. The state has been working with major theme park operators throughout California and looking at states where they’ve already opened to come up with guidance for reopening safely. Today those plans were unveiled and follow the same four-tier structure as other guidance. In the lower two tiers, purple and red, theme parks must remain closed.

Moderate (orange):

  • Smaller parks (operational capacity of 15,000 or less) can open with modifications
  • Capacity must be limited to 25% or 500 people, whichever is less
  • Outdoor attractions only can open
  • Reservations required
  • Local attendees only (from the same county as the park’s location)

Minimal (yellow):

  • Larger parks can open with modifications
  • Park capacity must be limited to 25%
  • Reservations required

You can read all the guidance for theme parks and amusement parks on the state’s website.

Personal care
Guidance has changed to allow personal care businesses to be open even in the purple tier, with modifications and precautions. This includes nail salons, tattoo parlors and body waxing as well as services that require touching a client’s face, like facials, electrolysis and facial waxing. It also applies to esthetic services, skin care, and massage therapy. Even though we are in the red tier, I am sure this comes as a relief to those businesses that are constantly worrying we might fall back to purple.

Professional sports
Guidance for professional sports will come as welcome news to many Carlsbad residents as well. Below is a snapshot:

Here is what is allowed by tier:

Widespread (purple):

  • Open with modifications
  • No live audiences

Substantial (red): 

  • Open with modifications
  • No live audiences

Moderate (orange):

  • Open with modifications
  • Permanent venues with live audiences outdoors only
  • Capacity must be limited to 20%
  • Reservations required
  • Assigned seating only
  • In-seat concessions only (no concourse sales)
  • Regional attendees only (within 120 miles)

Minimal (yellow):

  • Open with modifications
  • Permanent venues with live audiences outdoors only
  • Capacity must be limited to 25%
  • Reservations required
  • Assigned seating only
  • In-seat concessions only (no concourse sales)
  • Regional attendees only (within 120 miles)

Here is the full guidance, which applies to outdoor operations of sporting event venues like stadiums and racetracks.

Youth sports
We have heard from residents eager to get their kids back into traditional sports programs for a while now. Some sports activities have been allowed, but with many restrictions. At today’s briefing the state said they’re working on this guidance and will have it “soon.” I know this is frustrating. We will keep monitoring for any updates to share.

Economic impacts of COVID-19 pandemic

The San Diego Association of Governments just released a report showing the economic impacts of COVID-19 on our region to date. Unfortunately, the report confirms what many of us can see in our daily lives – those in the retail, tourism and education sectors have been hardest hit, as have lower income workers in general. You can read the full report here.

Some of the key takeaways are below:

We will present an update on the effects of COVID-19 on Carlsbad’s economy and the city budget at today’s City Council meeting. We see similar trends. You can read the highlights in the staff report, starting on page 593. I’ll share more on Thursday.

Drop off locations for ballots

A report from the County of San Diego Registrar of Voters confirms what we in Carlsbad already knew – our residents are highly engaged!  As of last week, Dove Library had the highest number of ballots returned than any other drop off location in the county except the Registrar of Voters main office. Cole Library was in the top five countywide!

In case you want to drop off your ballot, here is a map of official drop off locations in Carlsbad. Of course, you can also drop it in the mail in the self-addressed postage paid envelope provided.

The Carlsbad bubble

Since we’re talking pro sports in today’s update, I’ll close with a fun fact that Major League Baseball fans will appreciate.  San Diego’s Petco Park was recently the host of the American League Championship Series as well as one of the American League Divisional Series matches. During the several weeks of competition the American League took over one of our major resort hotels, creating their very own COVID-free bubble right here in Carlsbad. The Houston Astros, Tampa Bay Rays and the New York Yankees along with several officials from Major League Baseball stayed in their bubble in our city departing on several buses for their games at Petco Park. I’m a devoted Padres fan myself, but I will give props to these three “other” teams for having excellent taste. We were proud to support safe play in this small way, and our local economy got a nice boost too.

I’ll be back Thursday with more updates.

 

Oct. 15, 2020, 1:50 p.m.

Yesterday the County of San Diego health officer shared that a recent analysis of San Diego County data revealed San Diegans are waiting an average of 3.5 days after symptoms develop before they get a COVID-19 test. Because there is substantial spread of COVID-19 in the community, the county recommends people who start feeling sick should assume it’s because of the novel coronavirus, get tested right away and isolate themselves from other people, including their families.

People with COVID-19 can have no symptoms, mild symptoms or severe illness. Common symptoms include:

  • Fever or chills
  • Cough
  • Difficulty breathing
  • Fatigue
  • New loss of taste or smell
  • Body aches
  • Runny nose
  • Congestion
  • Headache
  • Sore throat

Symptoms may appear two to 14 days after exposure to the virus. Close contacts of people who test positive for COVID-19 should quarantine themselves for 14 days and monitor for symptoms.  The county operates about 40 COVID-19 testing sites and most do not require an appointment. To find a no-appointment site near you, or to make an appointment, visit www.211sandiego.org or call 2-1-1. You can view the testing sites by day here. Personal health care providers also offer testing.

Flu season

Health officials are also stressing the importance of getting the flu vaccination as soon as possible. Not only will this cut down on demands on the local health care system later, it will help rule out certain strains of flu for those who have symptoms that are common to influenza and COVID-19. Most health care providers are offering walk in clinics, and many local pharmacies offer the shot for a small fee. So, please add getting a flu shot to your list of errands over the next few days.

More Cares Act funding

On Tuesday, the County Board of Supervisors voted to distribute additional federal funding to help those most affected by the pandemic. Here’s how the dollars will be allocated:

  • $7 million for more economic stimulus grants to small businesses
  • $5 million rental assistance for behavioral health
  • $3.8 million for testing, tracing and treatment
  • $3 million to expand the county’s emergency rental assistance program
  • $2 million for local food banks
  • $1.6 million for youth & child welfare services
  • $1.6 million for the Great Plates program, which delivers meals to seniors in need

Outbreaks

There have been 47 outbreaks countywide in the past seven days reported (Oct. 7-13). Community outbreaks continue to be a concern and demonstrate the real risks associated with activities where people are in close proximity, especially indoors. If an outbreak setting is deemed a public health threat, then the county will make the specific location public. I still think the best advice I’ve heard is to assume everyone you see could be contagious and act accordingly. Keeping a minimum 6-foot distance, covering your face and washing your hands regularly have proven to be very effective in reducing spread.

Learning more about COVID

Researchers continue to study the effects of COVID-19 and publish new studies on a regular basis. One posted last week on the Harvard Medical School website got some media attention. It looked at the lasting cognitive effects of COVID-19. Some patients are reporting a level of impairment comparable to a moderate brain injury, affecting the ability to manage finances, make decisions and, in some cases, carry on conversations. More work is being done to identify the cause. For example, it could be due to oxygen deprivation or small strokes, according to the study. Another study also published last week – this one from ULCA – focused on PTSD as a potential cause, meaning the cognitive impairment could have psychological causes rather than physical.

The other COVID-19 study that got attention in recent days was the confirmation of the first U.S. COVID-19 patient who was infected a second time. An article in the Lancet reported on a 25-year-old Nevada man who tested positive in April and a second time in June, with the second time being more severe. This is the first confirmed case in the U.S., but the fifth worldwide.

For me, this just reinforces the fact that COVID-19 is still a very new disease and the importance of doing everything we can to slow the spread and avoid infection.

P.S.  In case you were wondering, I don’t actually sit around reading medical journals in my spare time. But, when I come across something I think would be of interest, I like to go back to the source materials before sharing.

Case numbers

Since my update Tuesday, 6 more cases have been reported in Carlsbad for a total of 769. We estimate that 46 of those cases are currently active. Overall, Carlsbad is doing a very good job of slowing the spread. Below is the latest graph comparing cases per capita. This is a direct result of your efforts and shows how much our community cares about protecting others. Let’s keep it up!

There have been 581 new cases reported countywide since my update Tuesday, and total cases now top 51,327.

State metrics

  • San Diego’s state-calculated, adjusted case rate is 6.8 per 100,000 residents. The trigger is 7 or more.
  • The testing positivity percentage is 3.0%. The trigger is 8% or higher.

We remain in the red tier. Here’s the latest status of counties throughout the state:

And, here is a link to all the updated charts and graphs for San Diego County.

Voting resources

Traffic has been brisk at the official ballot drop off locations at all three city libraries this week. Here is a link to information about ballot drop off locations, poll locations, key dates and other resources.

Great Shake Out

Today was the Great Shake Out, an annual event to highlight the importance of earthquake preparedness. If you’ve lived in California a long time, you’ve likely seen the guidance change over the years. Here’s the latest: If you feel an earthquake, immediately protect yourself as best as possible where you are. Earthquakes occur without any warning and may be so violent that you cannot run or crawl; you therefore will most likely be knocked to the ground where you happen to be. You will never know if the initial jolt will turn out to be the start of the big one. That’s why the guidance is to “Drop, Cover and Hold On.” You can read more about how to protect yourself and your loved ones here.

The County of San Diego issued a challenge to cities to demonstrate the proper “drop, cover and hold” position. I don’t want to brag, but I think our submission from Carlsbad’s City Hall below is an excellent demonstration.

That’s it until next week. Please be safe, be well and continue to #Care4Carlsbad.

 

Oct. 13, 2020, 12:55 p.m.

Based on new rules that went into effect Saturday, it’s officially okay to get together with friends, as long as there are no more than three households total, you have a big backyard and no one plays the flute. Let me explain.

Over the past several weeks, we’ve seen a gradual easing of restrictions on when people can get together. For example, you can meet up with friends at a restaurant, some kids have returned to the classroom, and, obviously, people from different households share the same space in shops, the grocery store, museums and other activities that are now allowed.

The new guidance on small gatherings includes some provisions that are mandatory and others that are highly recommended. All of them echo the same basic precautions health officials have stressed all along: distance, face coverings and hand washing. Here’s a summary, but to get the full details, please read the guidance yourself on the California Department of Public Health website (including the part about “wind instruments,” like flutes).

  • No more than three households, including yours. Ideally keep this group stable over time.
  • Outdoors only, but awnings and other shade structures are okay. Indoor restroom trips are OK.
  • Keep it short – two hours or less.
  • No communal (single serving dish) food or drinks (like pitchers).
  • Keep at least 6 feet between households, including seating (in all directions, front, side, behind, etc.).
  • Wear face coverings except when eating and drinking.
  • Make sure you know how to contact everyone present in case you need to later.

Unfortunately, people in high risk groups, including those 65 and older, are still advised to avoid all gatherings.

The state said yesterday that one of the reasons for the new guidance is to maintain consistency with other types of gatherings that are now allowed.

County tier announcement today

Today the state will once again report out on changes to how California counties rank in the four-tier system that affects reopening. Last week San Diego County was within the thresholds for our current tier, meaning we are not at risk of changing tiers this week. You need to be in different tier for two consecutive weeks before moving. It also means we will be waiting a while longer before being able to relax restrictions further, unless additional updates come down from the state (like the new gathering guidelines).

Theme parks

Several weeks ago the governor had indicated the state would be coming out with guidelines for theme parks “soon.” According to news reports, the original draft guidelines said visitors could only come from a 120 miles radius, which was a concern of theme park operators. Yesterday, the governor said the state now wants to wait to see how theme parks in other parts of countries fare and has even sent health experts to observe operations at Disney World in Florida and other theme parks that have already opened.

Case numbers

Since my update last Thursday, 21 more cases have been reported in Carlsbad for a total of 763. We estimate that 46 of those cases are currently active.

Cases countywide
There have been 1,571 new cases reported countywide since my update Thursday, and total cases now top 50,000 (50,746 to be exact).

State metrics
San Diego’s state-calculated, adjusted case rate is 6.5 per 100,000 residents. The trigger is 7 or more.

The testing positivity percentage is 3.5%. The trigger is 8% or higher.

Here is a link to all the updated charts and graphs.

Carlsbad’s GenMark gets approval for new test

Carlsbad-based GenMark Diagnostics has received emergency approval for a new all-in-one test that delivers results in two hours for COVID-19, the flu and other respiratory diseases. This comes at an important time, with the beginning of flu season upon us. The ability to quickly distinguish among diseases that may have similar symptoms enables health care workers to get patients into the right course of treatment quickly. The test is available mostly in large hospitals.

GenMark is one of many large companies specializing in life sciences that have located in Carlsbad’s business parks around Palomar Airport. Unless you have a reason to drive around this area, you might never know these companies were there, yet they employ thousands and are doing literally life changing work.

Today’s City Council meeting

The City Council meets this afternoon at 3 p.m. We are still virtual due to health precautions. That doesn’t mean you can’t participate. We’ve tried different ways to take comments and now have two options. You can email your comments in advance of the meeting, and they’ll be provided to the City Council. Or, you can provide verbal comments live by phone during the meeting. It’s really easy – you just sign up by 2 p.m. on our website and then listen to the meeting. When your topic comes up, the city clerk will call the last four digits of your phone numbers, and that’s your cue to unmute yourself and start your comments. All the details plus today’s agenda and staff reports are on this page of the city’s website.

Here’s what’s on the agenda today:

  • Awarding a contract to improve pedestrian access at El Camino Real and Cannon Road 
  • An ordinance banning overnight parking on streets in Car Country Carlsbad 
  • Consideration of a proposal for a four-story building in the Village with 79 residences and four commercial tenants
  • Agreement for citywide street sweeping 
  • Overview of Parks & Recreation’s memorial benches and trees program 

Housing meeting Wednesday

The Housing Element Advisory Committee meets again on Wednesday at 3 p.m. This group was appointed by the City Council to help develop an updated plan showing how the city will accommodate the number and types of housing needed for the future.

Overall, the city has done a good job planning for housing. Our gap is in the area of affordable housing. The updated plan will include strategies to create more affordable housing and locations where affordable housing could be built. You can find out more about this housing plan here. Basically, all cities are required to have a plan for how they will accommodate housing needs. The state does a forecast, then, in our case, the San Diego Association of Governments decides how to allocate the housing throughout the region.

This week’s meeting will be a good one to watch because the committee will be looking at maps showing different potential locations for new housing. The city will gather input from the public directly as well, likely later this fall.

New election portal

We’ve created a new portal on the city’s website with links to elected related information like:

  • Key dates and deadlines
  • Our change to district elections
  • Who’s running for what in Carlsbad
  • The ballot measure on City Council compensation
  • Where to drop off your ballot if you don’t want to put it in the mail
  • How to track your ballot as it makes its way back to the Registrar of Voters to be counted
  • And more!

Here’s a link (and you can access it through the election right from our home page.

Finally, with the holidays coming up, the CDC has put out guidance for Thanksgiving and holiday travel (it had already put out recommendations for Halloween). As we head into this time of year, let’s all continue to do everything we can to slow the spread of COVID-19. We want to keep the gains we’ve made so we can gather with friends and family and allow our businesses to begin to recover during what is for many their most important time of year.

I’ll be back Thursday with more updates.

 

Oct. 8, 2020, 2:45 p.m.

At Tuesday’s City Council meeting our staff shared their usual updates on the city’s COVID-19 response efforts. I say “usual” because we have been doing this every two weeks since the beginning of the pandemic. I am a numbers person by nature, so I really like these updates. But I also like them because it’s a chance to hear from all parts of our city organization and be reminded of the good work happening, a lot of which would otherwise be behind the scenes.

I don’t want to ever take for granted that the Fire Department is managing procurement of personal protective equipment to maintain ample supply for our first responders. Staff working in our planning and building departments have had no break in activity, since construction was deemed from the outset to be an essential activity. We conducted 341 building inspections in the July/August timeframe, compared to 358 last year. Staff even created a video inspection program so inspectors don’t need to have an in person visit for certain types of projects. We’ve issued 72 permits for businesses to move operations outdoors, with 22 more in process.

Even though libraries have been closed until the recent addition of computer hours, we have processed 3,067 new library accounts since March. We started curbside service in July, with 75,524 materials checked out so far. Since we started accepting returns, we’ve had 86,321 items brought back!

As of last week, staff in our Parks & Recreation Department have provided 30,000 free meals to local seniors in need. Fun fact: staff who work at the pick-up location have established themed dress up days to provide a little levity to the process. This is always good for a few extra smiles!

I could go on – these are only examples from one branch of the city – Community Services. There is so much more. I share this not to brag (okay, I do like to brag about our team), but to show the sheer volume of work that goes on every day in your city, all with the goal of making the lives of our residents just a little better. Plus, this week is Customer Service Week, which has me thinking about all of our city workers who provide so many different kinds of service to our community.

Staying in the red tier

At Tuesday’s state briefing, San Diego County met the criteria to stay in the red tier, so we have at least two more weeks without any changes to health rules. Here are the latest numbers:

  • San Diego’s state-calculated, adjusted case rate is 6.5. The trigger is more than 7
  • The testing positivity percentage is 3.3%. The trigger is more than 8%

The state unveiled a new measure on Tuesday designed to increase focus on communities most vulnerable to COVID-19. The idea behind the “equity measure” is to make sure counties are addressing those most in need of support. So, similar to the testing adjustment, our case numbers could be adjusted based on how targeted segments of the community are faring. You can read about this new measure on the California Department of Public Health’s website.

Statewide, counties continue to move into better tiers (just one moved down a tier). The map below shows the latest status.

Carlsbad cases
Since my update last Tuesday, 16 more cases have been reported in Carlsbad for a total of 742. We estimate that 41 of those cases are currently active.

Cases countywide
There have been 515 new cases reported countywide since my update Tuesday, for a new total of 49,175.  Sadly, 10 more people have lost their lives countywide to COVID-19 since my Tuesday report for a new total of 813.

Community setting outbreaks
In the past seven days reported (Sept. 30 through Oct. 6), 15 community outbreaks were confirmed. Nine outbreaks were reported yesterday: 1 Restaurant Bar, 1 Grocery, 3 Businesses, 2 Restaurants, 1 Food Processing, 1 Hair Salon/Barbershop.

Here is a link to all the updated charts and graphs.

City art gallery reopened

If your reaction to this headline was, “the city has an art gallery?” have I got a real treat for you! Tucked into the Dove Library complex, right off the courtyard, is the William D. Cannon Art Gallery, a true gem for local art lovers. Just in time for National Arts and Humanities Month, we are proud to reopen the gallery to the public with a new exhibit: “Four Visions: A Celebration of the Year of the Woman.” The installation features four local multi-generational female artists, Anne Mudge (sculpture), Kline Swonger (mixed-media and sculpture), Marisol Rendón (drawing) and Bianca Juarez (ceramics). It is one of the most distinctive and contemporary exhibits presented to date in the Cannon Gallery.

The gallery’s hours will coincide with Dove Library’s interior computer service hours: currently Tuesdays and Thursdays from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. We have taken all recommended health precautions and require all visitors to wear face coverings and keep their distance from those not in their own households. If we reach the recommended maximum occupancy, you might have to wait a bit, but our library café has also recently reopened so you can always enjoy a little peace and quiet and a snack while you wait.  Here is more information about the exhibit.

Water Professionals Week

Forgive the water pun, but when it rains, it pours! I started with some staff kudos, and I’m going to end with more. This week also happens to be Water Professionals Week, which is an opportunity to recognize all the people who make sure when you turn on the tap, you get a safe and reliable water supply. The City of Carlsbad has its own water district, the Carlsbad Municipal Water District, serving about 80 percent of the city. The Vallecitos Water District and the Olivenhain Municipal Water District provide service to the other 20 percent.

Please join me in thanking these hard-working professionals who have dedicated their careers to ensuring one of the most fundamental human needs – access to clean drinking water – is something we have the luxury of taking for granted!

I’ll be back next Tuesday with the latest developments. Whatever you end up doing this weekend, please remember to model good public health practices and continue to show the world that Carlsbad is a community where people care for one another!

  • Avoid crowds
  • Maintain a 6 foot distance from people outside your own household
  • Cover your face when you leave home
  • Stay home if you have any symptoms of COVID-19
  • Wash your hands often

 

Oct. 6, 2020, 10:30 a.m.

Today we head into the weekly assessment of the county tier system with a little more confidence than last week. Every Tuesday the state announces changes to health restrictions based on how each of the state’s 58 counties have met two key metrics for COVID-19 spread:

  1. Number of cases per 100,000 in population
  2. Percentage of positive tests based on total tests conducted

The reason for the suspense is that once again San Diego County is very close to the case per 100,000 metric that allows us to stay in the red tier:

Last week our raw number was actually over seven, but because we did more testing than the median number of tests statewide, our case number was adjusted downward. To be adjusted up, we would need to have done less testing than the state median. The county has actually added testing sites since the last reporting period, so we hope that won’t happen. Even if we did miss the mark, we would need to do so for two consecutive weeks before we would get moved to a lower tier.

For the other metric, testing positivity, we are well within the orange tier at 3.3%. Both metrics must be in the next tier for two consecutive weeks to be moved.

Last case data

Since my update last Thursday, 22 more cases have been reported in Carlsbad for a total of 726. We estimate that 30 of those cases are currently active.

Cases countywide
There have been 1,480 new cases reported countywide since my update Thursday, for a new total of 48,660.

Sadly, 20 more people have lost their lives countywide to COVID-19 since my Thursday report for a new total of 803.

Community setting outbreaks
In the past seven days reported (Sept. 28 through Oct. 4), 23 community outbreaks were confirmed. The number of community outbreaks remains above the county’s trigger of seven or more in seven days. A community setting outbreak is defined as three or more COVID-19 cases in a setting and in people of different households over the past 14 days.

New daily dashboard

If you’d like to follow Carlsbad’s status and key county indicators on a daily basis, we have developed this new dashboard and put it out on Facebook and Twitter every evening. If you aren’t on social media, you can still see our live Twitter feed on the city’s website.

Not to make things more confusing, but if you’re wondering why the numbers below are different from what I just reported, it’s because in these updates I let you know what’s changed since my last update. The info below is what has changed since just the day before.

For those with an eagle eye (and I know you’re out there!), the reason the case per 100,000 I am reporting here is 6.7, not 7 as reported on the chart above, is the number above is for the latest state reporting period and the one reported daily is a rolling seven-day average.

Indoor spread and the 6-foot rule

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention issued a report yesterday addressing the indoor airborne spread of the virus that causes COVID-19. This is getting attention because it finds the virus can spread more than 6 feet, especially inside locations that lack good airflow. The agency is not changing its recommendation to stay 6 feet from those not in your own household because close contact (being less than 6 feet away for 15 minutes or more) is still the biggest risk.

But this newly confirmed information does show the importance of covering your face and maintaining distance from others. Airborne spread depends on a lot of variables. Even when you’re outside, an unlucky breeze could suddenly expose you to the virus if you’re in the wrong place at the wrong time.

Singing, yelling and heavy breathing increase spread through the air.

Playground safety

Speaking of singing, yelling and heavy breathing, city playgrounds opened last Friday under new state and county health rules. One of the most important rules is to ensure everyone 2 and older wears a face covering. I know it’s hard to get the little ones to keep their faces covered, but it’s critical if they’re going to be someplace where they could come into contact with others. I’m starting to notice Halloween themed face coverings around town – fun patterns can help encourage use – even for us adults!

Today’s City Council meeting

Today we’ll provide our regular update to the City Council on the city’s COVID-19 response efforts and spending to date. Other topics include:

  • Report on city investments
  • Award of Local Roadway Safety Plan Grant
  • El Camino Real and Cannon Road intersection improvements
  • Lease for Chapters Café at Carlsbad City Library
  • Memo of understanding with CUSD for payment of school resource officers
  • Revisions to the Carlsbad Firefighters’ Association employment agreement
  • Adding no parking zones on both sides of Paseo Del Norte and Car Country Drive from Cannon Road to the intersection of Paseo Del Norte and Car Country Drive between the hours of midnight and 6 a.m.
  • Update to Municipal Code concerning public nuisances and property maintenance

The meeting starts at 3 p.m. Sign up by 2 p.m. if you want to provide live comments by phone. Otherwise, you can send your comment via email. Here’s a link to full agenda and staff reports.

The Planning and Housing commissions also meet this week. You can find out about our boards and commissions on the city’s website and watch live at this link.

Election information

If you’re registered to vote, you should be receiving your mail ballot this week. If you’re not registered (or if you’ve changed addresses lately), you still have time to register. It can be done online through Oct. 19. You can register in person at the Registrar of Voters office at 5600 Overland Ave., San Diego, CA 92123, after Oct. 19. You can even register at your polling place Oct. 31 through Nov. 3, but if you wait until then, your ballot will be considered provisional and not counted until all your information is verified. Finally, if you just want to double check that you’re registered and your address is current, you can look yourself up here.

Once you fill out your ballot, you can mail it in using the prepaid envelope provided or drop it off at any official drop off location. Here is a full list, and below are the locations in Carlsbad.

Here are the street addresses:

  • Cole Library, 1250 Carlsbad Village Drive
  • Library Learning Center, 3368 Eureka Place
  • Magdalena Ecke Family YMCA Gymnastics Center, 6100 Avenida Encinas
  • The Landings at Carlsbad, 2198 Palomar Airport Road
  • Dove Library, 1775 Dove Lane

Fire prevention week

A tip of the hat – or should I say helmet? – to our Fire Department staff, who have planned a full court press this week to raise awareness about preventing kitchen fires. The theme of this year’s Fire Prevention Week is, “Serve up Fire Safety in the Kitchen.” Staff put together videos, a social media campaign and two live virtual events for this Saturday. Learn more on the city’s website.

Here is one of the videos featuring our very own Fire Prevention Division staff. Just in case you’re wondering, firefighters working in the same station are considered part of a household, which is why in some of the photos and videos you may seem them closer than 6 feet. Fortunately for Sparky, human to animal transmission is very rare.

Once again, thank you for doing your part to slow the spread of COVID-19 in Carlsbad. Your individual actions really do make a difference.

  • Avoid crowds
  • Maintain a 6-foot distance from people outside your own household
  • Cover your face when you leave home
  • Stay home if you have any symptoms of COVID-19
  • Wash your hands often

I’ll be back Thursday with more updates.

 

Oct. 1, 2020, 2:15 p.m.

This week Carlsbad Unified School District started to phase in classroom instruction for elementary school students. Encinitas Union School District started last week. San Marcos Unified School District plans to start in person classes for elementary schools Oct. 12.

Once elementary schools are up and running with their new hybrid models (some in person and some distance learning), high schools will begin to reconvene. San Marcos Unified will be the first to bring high schoolers back on campus, currently scheduled for the week of Oct. 19. San Dieguito Union High School District has decided to continue distance learning through Jan. 22. Carlsbad Unified will also continue distance learning for high schools until at least sometime in January.

It’s always been a bit of a challenge in Carlsbad to know what the school schedules are because four public school districts serve Carlsbad residents, depending on which part of Carlsbad you live in. Now with all the variations being tried out due to COVID-19, it gets a little more complicated. I’d like to thank all the superintendents (sort of like the city manager equivalent for school districts) for everything they are doing to keep parents informed in this ever-changing and challenging environment.

Even though the city is a separate government agency (not everyone realizes school districts are their separate entities with their own elected leaders), we work closely with all the schools in Carlsbad, including private schools, to ensure there is good coordination and collaboration between the city and our schools.

Testing for teachers, students and more

Starting today the county will be setting up COVID-19 testing sites in San Diego, Chula Vista, Del Mar and El Cajon for teachers and school personnel. The sites, set up in partnership with the San Diego County Office of Education, will offer testing without an appointment to maximize the number of tests administered. The California Department of Public Health recommends periodic surveillance testing for all school employees who may have contact with students or other staff.

Teachers and staff should contact their school or school district for information on where to get a test. Students in grades K-12 can get tested at the following locations:

Over the next two weeks, the number of county testing sites overall will increase from 29 to 41, and the number of tests available to be administered by public health nurses through the county’s lab contract with Helix will nearly double to about 30,000 weekly tests.

According to the county, COVID-19 testing continues to be primarily conducted at hospitals, with additional tests from commercial labs and community health centers. The county is working to transition the majority of its sites to those that will not require an appointment. To find a no-appointment site near you, or to make an appointment, visit www.211sandiego.org or call 2-1-1. You can view the testing sites by day here.

Latest case numbers

State metrics:

  • San Diego’s state-calculated, adjusted case rate is 6.7. The testing positivity percentage is 3.5%. We need to keep our case rate at 7 or under and testing positivity at 8% or less to stay in the red tier.
  • The California Department of Public Health will assess counties on a weekly basis, with the next report scheduled for Tuesday, Oct. 6.

Community Setting Outbreaks:

  • 14 new community outbreaks were confirmed on Sept. 29: seven in business settings, five in restaurants, one in a gym and one in a food processing setting.
  • In the past seven days (Sept. 23 through Sept. 29), 34 community outbreaks were confirmed.
  • The number of community outbreaks remains above the trigger of seven or more in seven days.
  • A community setting outbreak is defined as three or more COVID-19 cases in a setting and in people of different households over the past 14 days.

Testing:

  • 10,709 tests were reported to the County on Sept. 29 and the percentage of new laboratory-confirmed cases was 2%.
  • The 14-day rolling average percentage of positive cases is 3%. Target is less than 8.0%.
  • The seven-day, daily average of tests is 9,357.
  • People with and without symptoms who are at higher risk for COVID-19 should be tested. Health care and essential workers should also get a test, as well as people who had close contact to a positive case or live in communities that are being highly impacted.

Cases countywide:
Sadly, seven more people have lost their lives countywide to COVID-19 since my Tuesday report for a new total of 783.

There have been 446 new cases reported countywide since my update Tuesday, for a new total of 47,180. 

Carlsbad data:
Since my update last Tuesday, five more cases have been reported in Carlsbad for a total of 704. We estimate that 26 of those cases are currently active. 

Playgrounds opening ahead of schedule

On Tuesday I reported that based on time needed to get all the proper signs and other precautions in place to comply with the new state guidance, we’d open playgrounds on Saturday. Well, I am happy to report that thanks to our stellar staff in the Parks & Recreation Department, we are going to be able to open a day earlier. Starting tomorrow (Friday), you can once again take the kiddos to burn off some energy and enjoy some outdoor time at our local playgrounds.

One caveat – Hidden Canyon Park recently had its playground surface replaced. Unfortunately, we’ve noticed a couple of problems that need to be fixed with the new surface. We estimate Hidden Canyon’s playground to be able to open again in a couple of weeks. We are really sorry for this inconvenience. We tried hard to get maintenance like this done while the playgrounds were closed.

Local COVID-19 survivor offers hope to others

Carlsbad resident Taylor Brune was featured earlier this week on NBC7 for sharing her personal story about COVID-19 on social media platforms to help educate and comfort others. Taylor describes how scared and alone she felt, having a hard time breathing and isolated from friends and family.

“I know that what happened, happened for a reason, and that I can share my story and be able to bring awareness so that people can really understand better and have more empathy and compassion for the people that have contracted COVID,” she said.

Taylor, now recovered, is currently taking online pre-med courses with aspirations of becoming a doctor. You can read more about Taylor and see the story here.

Flu season is around the corner

Have you heard of the “twindemic,” referring to simultaneous outbreaks of flu and COVID-19? That’s keeping health care providers up at night, because hospitals could become overburdened with patients. As summer draws to a close and people eventually spend more time indoors, the spread of the flu could increase along with COVID-19 cases. The good news is that flu shots are easy to get and will help contain the spread this winter.

Celebrating the arts and humanities

October is Arts & Humanities Month and the City of Carlsbad’s Cultural Arts office is offering a series of programs to celebrate, starting a week from today:

Thursday, Oct. 8 at 7 p.m. | LIVE virtual event
Theater | Letters Aloud presents All Our Best: Perseverance in Times of Struggle
Featuring real letters from real people throughout history writing about their experiences in times of pandemics, civil rights activism and finding hope and meaning…and humor…when times are particularly tough, “All Our Best” proved to be the perfect show to experience live during these troubling times.

That’s all from me this week. I’ll be back next Tuesday with more updates. In the meantime, please continue to follow all health precautions:

  • Avoid crowds
  • Maintain a 6 foot distance from people outside your own household
  • Cover your face when you leave home
  • Stay home if you have any symptoms of COVID-19
  • Wash your hands often

Your individual actions are making a difference for our community. Thank you!

 

Sept. 29, 2020, 2:30 p.m.

Making headlines this morning is news that as of yesterday, COVID-19 has killed more than 1 million people worldwide in the 10 months since it emerged. To put this in perspective, tuberculosis, the infectious disease with the highest number of fatalities annually, killed about 1.5 million in 2018, according to the World Health Organization. However, unlike tuberculosis, the novel coronavirus is still spreading quickly, putting COVID-19 on the path to becoming the deadliest infectious disease in the world.

With this backdrop in mind, it comes as welcome news that San Diego County’s case rate is low enough to keep us in the red tier for at least another two weeks. Every Tuesday the state announces any changes to where counties fall in the four-tier system. Without adjusting our case rate, we would have been over the threshold of 7. Because San Diego County has had more COVID-19 tests than the median number of tests statewide, we get to adjust our case rate down a bit. At 6.7, they’re still pretty close to 7.

Keep in mind, we need to have two consecutive weeks of missing the state’s two triggers to move down a tier.

Case data

Here is where we stand as of yesterday’s numbers:

  • Percentage of positive tests compared to total tests: 3.5%. Trigger is more than 8%. This measure is looking very good.
  • New COVID-19 cases per 100,000 in population: 6.7 (this is the adjusted rate from the state). Trigger is more than 7.

Carlsbad data
Since my update last Thursday, eight more cases have been reported in Carlsbad for a total of 699. We estimate that 29 of those cases are currently active. 

I am proud to report that Carlsbad’s case rate per 100,000 in population is still among the lowest in the county, second only to Solana Beach. This is thanks to the individual actions by each of you. Thank you.

County numbers
Sadly, nine more people have lost their lives countywide to COVID-19 since my Thursday report for a new total of 776.

There have been 1,309 new cases reported countywide since my update Thursday, for a new total of 46,734.

18 outbreaks have been reported in the last seven days countywide.

Carlsbad’s city playgrounds scheduled to open Saturday

Great news for parents and other caregivers - the California Department of Public Health has issued safety guidelines for playgrounds and outdoor recreation areas.

You can read about the details on the state website. Similar to other activities, people need to wear face coverings, keep households separated, wash hands and take other health precautions.

We are awaiting final word from the County of San Diego, and the city needs to do some prep work before playgrounds can reopen. For example, to comply with the new guidelines, we need to put up signs noting the maximum occupancy of each play structure and arrange for frequent cleaning.

Here is the flyer listing the rules that must be posted at all outdoor playgrounds. For now, the state’s guidance refers to playgrounds operated by “a city, state, county, or federal government.” Playgrounds operated by HOAs are not mentioned in the new guidance.

Changes in voting process due to COVID-19

As the Nov. 3 General Election draws near, the County of San Diego Registrar of Voters is promoting awareness of two main changes. First, all registered voters will get a ballot in the mail, whether or not they are signed up to be a permanent mail voter. Ballots can be returned by mail via the pre-paid envelope or dropped off at:

  • One of the county’s official drop off locations, Oct. 6 – Nov. 3:
    • Carlsbad City Library on Dove Lane
    • Georgina Cole Library
    • Library learning Center
    • Magalena Ecke Family YMCA Gymnastics Center
    • The Landings at Carlsbad
  • A polling location, Oct. 31 – Nov. 3
  • The Registrar of Voters office in Kearny Mesa, Oct. 5 – Nov.3

According to Registrar of Voters Michael Vu, about 78% of San Diego County’s registered voters are already signed up as permanent mail ballot voters, so the governor’s decision to provide mail ballots to all voters isn’t as big of a change for San Diego County as some other counties.

The second thing that will be different this year is when and where you can cast your ballot in person. To enable people to stay the recommended 6-feet away from each other, the county has consolidated polling locations from 1,000 small neighborhood sites open on Election Day only to 235 “super poll” locations in larger venues open from Oct. 31 to Nov. 3. Your sample ballot will tell you the location you should vote in person at if that’s your preference.

Finally, if you would like to vote in person even earlier, you can trek down to Kearny Mesa starting Oct. 5 and vote at the Registrar of Voters office.

‘Tis the season … for political signs

Speaking of the upcoming election, we have started to get questions about the rules for political yard signs. This can be confusing because different cities have different rules, and all laws regulating “non-commercial” signs must respect the public’s right to freedom of expression, guaranteed by the First Amendment to the Constitution.

So, what are the rules in Carlsbad? It depends on your location. People are allowed to have signs on their own private property. Signs are also allowed along major streets in non-residential areas.

There are limits on how many signs you can put up (actually, we limit total square footage not the number of signs) and the time period – 30 days before an election and five days following. The exception to the 30-day rules is that you can have one small sign on your own property all year round.

There’s more to it than this, and we’ve summarized all the details in this fact sheet, including a map showing the streets that allow signs along them. Please keep in mind you need a permit to place signs along streets, and signs are never allowed in street medians because they could be a safety hazard.

Library computers available starting today

Yesterday city staff were busy getting ready to open all three City of Carlsbad library locations for computer use and printing starting today, on a first-come, first-served basis, at the following times: 

Georgina Cole Library
Monday & Wednesday 10 a.m. - 5 p.m. 

Carlsbad City Library on Dove Lane
Tuesday & Thursday 10 a.m. - 5 p.m. 

Library Learning Center
Tuesday & Thursday 10 a.m. - 5 p.m. 

Get a sneak peek at the preparations in this video.

Computer use will be limited to one hour per person per day. In addition to the computers, staff will be available to issue library cards and collect fines that may have accrued prior to March 15 (no fines are currently being accrued for items due between March 15 - Dec. 31, 2020). Black and white printing is available for $.20 a page, payable in cash. 

Upcoming public meetings

The business of the city continues this week with the following boards and commission meetings:

To see the agenda or watch online, visit the city’s website. The City Council’s next meeting is scheduled for Oct. 6 at 3 p.m.

Safe Halloween guidance

County health officials have put out official guidance for staying safe this Halloween. Unfortunately, trick or treating is not on the list of approved activities. But, there are some alternative activities suggested, and the city will be hosting some virtual events and activities for the kiddos.

That’s it for today. We’re expecting hot weather through the week, so be sure to drink plenty of water and limit exertion in the heat of the day. I’ll be back on Thursday with more updates.

 

Sept. 24, 2020, 1:05 p.m.

This week marked several milestones in the fight against COVID-19. The first is quite sobering: COVID-19 has now claimed more than 200,000 lives in the United States. In San Diego County, COVID-19 has become the sixth leading cause of death, and yesterday county health officials said they expect it could move to the number four spot, overtaking accidents, by the end of this year.

On a positive note, San Diego County this week administered its one millionth COVID-19 test. Remembering just six months ago when COVID-19 tests were in scare supply, this is a huge accomplishment. Rapid and plentiful testing is still considered a key tool in slowing the spread.

The final bit of news is from the state, which announced its lowest testing positivity rate since the start of the pandemic at 2.8%. This also marks the first time that number has fallen below 3%.

Case numbers

Since my update last Tuesday, 12 more cases have been reported in Carlsbad for a total of 691. We estimate that 32 of those cases are currently active. 

Someone asked this week what the term active cases means. Based on what is known about the average amount of time someone with COVID-19 has symptoms and is contagious, we calculate the figure starting with when test results are reported for people who live in the City of Carlsbad. This is not an exact science because people don’t always get tested right away, and the time it takes for test results to come back is getting shorter, but still varies quite a bit.  However, the active case count can still give you some idea of how prevalent known cases are among our residents.

Another important caveat to keep in mind – cases are reported based on where a person lives not where they are believed to have contracted the virus (if that is even known). My ongoing advice – based on that of health experts – is to simply assume everyone you see could be contagious with COVID-19. That may sound extreme, but it’s the best way to maintain vigilance with the everyday health precautions that have proven to be effective:

  • Maintain a minimum 6 foot distance from people not in your own household
  • Cover your face when you leave home (technically the rule is to wear a face covering when you can’t maintain distance and when entering businesses, but it’s better to err on the side of caution when in doubt)
  • Wash your hands thoroughly and often. Use hand sanitizer when you can’t easily wash your hands
  • Don’t get together with people outside your own household. Yesterday health officials stressed that the outbreaks at SDSU are mostly from people gathering, not just at big college parties, but at small dinners among friends at someone’s house.

County numbers

Sadly, seven more people have lost their lives countywide to COVID-19 since my Tuesday report for a new total of 767.

There have been 500 new cases reported countywide since my update Tuesday, for a new total of 45,425.

State metrics

  1. Percentage of positive tests compared to total tests: 3.6%. Trigger is more than 8%. This measure is looking very good.
  2. New COVID-19 cases per 100,000 in population: 6.9. Trigger is more than 7.

Here is a link to the latest charts and graphs.

Tier status

Tuesday we were relieved to find out that San Diego County would remain in the red tier, allowing all current health order provisions to remain the same for at least the next two weeks. Last week Orange County was moved from purple to red. This week Riverside County was also moved to red. It’s helpful to have our adjacent counties in sync in terms of not just the rate of spread but what is allowed to be open.

Case numbers continue to be the area of biggest concern or San Diego County because we are very close to the trigger. The rules for changing tiers are different depending on whether a county is poised to move up or down:

  1. To move up to a less restrictive tier, a county has to have case numbers and testing positivity percentages in the better tier for two consecutive one week periods.
  2. To move to a more restrictive tier, a county has to miss the mark on just one of the two criteria for two consecutive one week periods.

Since San Diego County case numbers were good for the last reporting period, we now are in the clear for at least two weeks. We will find out next Tuesday if our case numbers stayed at seven or fewer for the last reporting period.

Ongoing discussions about criteria

At this week’s county news conference, the health officer said she and other county health officers are in ongoing discussions with the state about potentially adding criteria, beyond case numbers per 100,000 and testing positivity. Three specific measures mentioned include:

  1. Hospital capacity
  2. Contact tracing
  3. Access to testing with vulnerable populations

This is part of the ongoing and challenging task of figuring out the best way to assess COVID-19 transmission risk among 58 counties that have so many different characteristics and conditions.

Labor Day surge?

The county also reported yesterday that cases spread during the Labor Day holiday should have, for the most part, already shown up in our numbers. The incubation period for COVID-19 is about 14 days. Thank you, thank you, thank you for your efforts to slow the spread and help avoid a repeat of Memorial Day and July 4th.

The City of Carlsbad also implemented a pretty comprehensive plan for Labor Day weekend that included handing out masks, putting out more patrols, an information campaign targeting younger people and a big push on educating visitors about local health rules. It’s hard to know if these measures made the difference or if people are getting used to taking more precautions on their own – it’s probably a little of both.

Increased patrols

On Tuesday the City Council authorized additional police patrols during peak times in areas along our coastline where sidewalks and stairs make maintaining a 6 foot distance more difficult. The goal is to use these extra patrols strategically to maintain compliance with the county health order.

University cases

SDSU-related cases are now at 933, but the rate of increase is slowing a little. Here is a link to more information about these cases. Naturally, all eyes are on UCSD, which returned to classes Monday. The school is doing massive testing, using an app that alerts people to potential exposure and even looking for traces of virus in sewage coming from campus. As of yesterday, the county reported that 2,000 tests had been completed (20,000 still to go!), but so far the county has not seen anything of concern.

There’s (also) an app for that

I mentioned the app that tracks potential exposures to COVID-19, but another app is making headlines related to UCSD. An article in today’s Union-Tribune reports that a UCSD graduate developed an app called Occuspace, which uses sensors plugged into wall sockets to monitor crowds. The sensors use Bluetooth signals to estimate the number of people in a space, while an algorithm calculates total potential occupancy.

The guy who came up with the idea was just trying to avoid crowds so he could find a quiet place to study. Now, of course, with COVID, the startup is inundated with requests and has already been installed in other California universities. Here’s what it looks like:

Fourth U.S. vaccine enters phase three trials

Also in the news today, the Johnson & Johnson vaccine candidate has now entered the final stage of clinical trials. What’s interesting about this one is that it only requires one dose, which makes administering it a lot simpler. Here is the company’s announcement.

Library computers available starting 9/28

All three City of Carlsbad library locations will offer access to computers and printing starting Tuesday, Sept. 29, on a first come, first served basis, at the following times: 

Georgina Cole Library
Monday & Wednesday 10 a.m.–5 p.m. 

Carlsbad City Library on Dove Lane
Tuesday & Thursday 10 a.m. – 5 p.m. 

Library Learning Center
Tuesday & Thursday 10 a.m. – 5 p.m. 

Computer use will be limited to one hour per person per day. In addition to the computers, staff will be available to issue library cards and collect fines that may have accrued prior to March 15 (no fines are currently being accrued for items due between March 15 – Dec. 31, 2020). Black and white printing is available for $.20 a page, payable in cash. 

Other parts of the library will remain closed. Curbside pickup will continue Monday through Saturday between 10 a.m. and 4:45 p.m. Books may be returned in outdoor collection bins at any time. 

The library has put health precautions in place for the new computer hours to comply with the county health order and help ensure the safety of library patrons. These include:

  • No in-and-out privileges, once a session has started.
  • Patrons are asked to wash or sanitize their hands before using a computer or printer.
  • No browsing or sitting in other parts of the library.
  • Wear face covering at all times.
  • Maintain 6 foot distance. Certain computers will not be available to allow for proper distance between stations.

Community updates

It always makes my day when one of you shoots me an email sharing something cool about Carlsbad. I’m passing along a couple recent tidbits:

Play ball
Apparently the Baltimore Orioles Thomas Eshelman isn’t the only home grown baseball player to make it to the majors. A reader shared this story about Mickey Moniak, drafted first overall out of La Costa Canyon High School in 2016. Mickey has been on a very deliberate path ever since, and was called up to the major leagues for the first time last week by the Phillies.

Happy 103rd!
Willy Buhl shared the photo below of Major Victor Clayton, US Army Air Corps, WWII, who flew C-47s in the Pacific around New Guinea 1943-44. Victor celebrated his 103rd birthday on Sept. 16. He lives at Carlsbad by the Sea.

Happy belated birthday, Major Clayton, and thank you for your service.

I’ll leave you this week with the same message emphasized by county health officials at their weekly news briefing: we already have the tools we need to slow the spread. Our individual behaviors make a difference. If we avoid crowds, keep our distance, cover our faces and wash our hands, case numbers will decrease and health restrictions can ease.

Remember to check the Gift Carlsbad website if you’re planning to eat out or do some local shopping this weekend. Your dollars will go further, and our local businesses will get much needed relief!

 

Sept. 22, 2020, 3:30 p.m.

You’re getting today’s update a little later than usual today because I wanted to wait for the state’s noon news conference. Every Tuesday the state reports out on which counties will be moving to a different tier in the new four-tier system.

Good news – we are staying put … for now.

Why the suspense?

Even though the criteria for the four tiers are clear, today’s announcement was a bit of nail biter because of something called the “equity adjustment.” The state applies a formula to county case numbers based on how the number of tests conducted compare to the state median number of tests. This way, counties with higher case numbers aren’t penalized if they also have a higher amount of testing. Likewise, counties without as much testing may have lower case numbers, but that doesn’t necessarily mean the prevalence of COVID-19 is lower.

County officials could easily calculate the actual case numbers for the time period in question. But, without knowing how much testing is happening at the state level, it’s not possible to know exactly what the adjustment rate would be.

Since we already were above the case threshold for one seven-day period, missing the mark for another consecutive seven-day period would have required us to be moved down to the purple tier and implement more restrictions.

Now that we’ve cleared that hurdle, we have at least two weeks before this will come up again. That’s because we need to exceed the average of seven cases per 100,000 in population for two consecutive seven day periods.

The California Department of Public Health website has a good explanation of the new four tiered system and how it’s implemented.

As a reminder, here’s what can open under which tiers.

Case number update

Carlsbad cases:
Since our update last Thursday, nine more cases have been reported in Carlsbad for a total of 679. We estimate that 36 of those cases are currently active. 

County numbers:
Sadly, 12 more people have lost their lives countywide to COVID-19 since my Thursday report for a total of 760.

There have been 1,480 new cases reported countywide since my update Thursday, for a new total of 44,925. 3.7% 14-day average.

Here is a link to the latest charts and graphs. Below is an updated chart showing how Carlsbad compares to others in the county on a case per capita basis:

Unemployment system reboot

Yesterday the state announced it was overhauling the technology used to manage unemployment claims. Under the new system, new claims will be highly automated, freeing up more experienced staff to be redeployed to resolve older and more complex claims. The goal is to get money to people filing claims more quickly.

The changes are part of a comprehensive review of the state’s unemployment system initiated after complaints about late payments and fraud. One of the leaders of the governor’s “strike team” is Jennifer Pahlka, who founded Code for America, sometimes referred to as the Peace Corps for geeks. Code for America pairs technology experts and innovators with government agencies to solve complex problems using digital tools. Code for America wasn’t involved in this effort, but Jennifer Pahlka is considered quite a rock star among government nerds. Let’s hope she and the rest of the team can help make needed improvements to such an important area of state government.

You can read the report and other background here.

COVID-19 items at tonight’s City Council meeting

We have two COVID-19 items on the agenda for tonight’s City Council meeting, our usual every two-week update and a draft ordinance on the use of face coverings. If you’d like to follow along, we’ll be streaming the meeting live starting at 3 p.m. Here is a link to the full agenda with all the details.

Upcoming activities

Our amazing staff continues to come up with new ways of providing programs during COVID-19. Here’s a sampling of what we have in store for you and your families this week:

For kids

Synchronicity Carlsbad: The Ultimate Online Fortnite Battle in partnership with GameSync
Friday, Oct. 2, 7 - 10 p.m. $10
Friday Nights @ Pine returns virtually, to introduce the second eSports Tournament of 2020 designed for ages 10 -14. Join fellow teen gamers to flex your eSports skills and dominate the playing field with a chance to win cool gaming prizes and become the Carlsbad champion! All participants will receive a voucher for a free hour at GameSync Esports Center. Limited availability. Register here.

Ecological Adventures Class (This is an in-person program)
Leo Carrillo Ranch Historic Park
Wednesday or Thursday, 3 - 5 p.m.
Oct. 7 - 28 or Oct. 8 - 29
Ages 7 - 15 yrs 
This new fall weekly class is designed to support families by getting kids active and outdoors after spending a long day in the virtual classroom. Supervised activities include hikes, nature walks, environmental projects, exploration and live animals in the beautiful and tranquil setting of Leo Carrillo Ranch! Meets once per week for four weeks.

Adults

Virtual Creative Writing
Tuesdays, 3:30 - 4:30 p.m.
Sept. 29 - Nov. 10
All ages
Join published author Marcie Colleen for a virtual creative writing class for writers of all ages. Inspired by Leo Carrillo’s book, The California I Love, participants will observe, write and reflect on the great outdoors and deepen their relationship with nature, while creating their own book about the California they love. 

Virtual Book Bingo
Saturday, Sept. 26, 2-4 p.m.
Back by popular demand, now virtual! Meet six authors, hear about their books and play an interactive game of virtual bingo. Featuring West Coast authors: Kira Jane BuxtonJanie Chang and Abbi Waxman and East Coast authors: Rachel BarenbaumBryn Turnbull and Tracey Enerson Wood. Presented in partnership with Adventures by the Book and NovelNetwork.  For more information and to order signed books, visit Adventures by the Book

Virtual Good Life Lecture: How to Be a Hero with Karin Muller
Wednesday, Sept. 30, 6:30-7:30 p.m.
America is full of ordinary people who wake up every morning to fight for a better world. They’re not rich. They’re not famous. They’re America’s unsung heroes. Join Karin Muller, who went on a three-year quest to find and film everyday heroes, for a look at their stories. Karin has spent a lifetime writing books, taking pictures and creating PBS/National Geographic documentaries about her travels. 

… and all of the children are above average

Carlsbad’s own Lauren Mathios, a 10th grader at Sage Creek High School, has won the grand prize for a “Stop the Spread” contest sponsored by The San Diego Union-Tribune and Fox 5.

The contest asked participants to create public service announcement ads calling on people to take precautions against the spread of COVID-19. More than 90 submissions were received.

Lauren’s winning video imagines what it would be like if the invisible virus could actually be seen – in the form of tiny dragons coming out of your nose and mouth. I can’t really do it justice, but you can watch for yourself in this clip. Congratulations, Lauren!  You make your hometown proud!

That’s it for today. I’ll be back with more updates on Thursday.

 

Sept. 17, 2020, 12:05 p.m.

All eyes are on San Diego County this week. Our case numbers currently exceed the threshold for tier two, the red tier. If case numbers continue to exceed the limit, under the state’s new four-tier system, some businesses would once again need to stop indoor operations.

When the new system was announced, San Diego County was the only urban county and one of only eight counties statewide that qualified for tier two. Most of the state was in tier one, the purple tier, which is the most restrictive. Now that we are poised to backtrack, other counties are closely monitoring what the state will do.

Should university cases be counted?

One issue is whether or not cases at universities should count toward San Diego County’s total cases. Without the 700-plus COVID-19 cases linked to San Diego State University, San Diego’s numbers would still be in the red tier, according to county health officials.

Some say unlike prisoners, a group excluded from county numbers, university students mix and mingle with the surrounding community, increasing the spread beyond the school setting. Others say that due to their age, college students are not putting a strain on the region’s health care system because their symptoms are less severe. So far just one has required hospitalization, according to reports.

What’s at stake for businesses

At Tuesday’s board of supervisors meeting, 90 people signed up to speak about the county’s response to COVID-19, many citing the economic hardship restrictions have had on businesses. If San Diego County were to fall to tier one, restaurants, churches, movie theaters, museums and gyms would not be allowed to operate indoors for several weeks.

The state’s new system is meant to be more slow moving, to avoid repeated openings and closings. Once assigned to a tier, a county may not move again for three weeks, even if it would otherwise qualify. As long as the three week mark has passed, a county could move up to a less restrictive tier once it meets the two state measures for two weeks straight. It could be moved down a tier if it meets just one of the two state measures for two weeks.

On Tuesday, the county Board of Supervisors scheduled a special meeting for next Tuesday and asked its staff to report back at that time on the discussions with the state about the SDSU numbers and whether or not they’ve been able to work something out with the state that would allow San Diego businesses to stay open.

Case number update

So, where do we stand in terms of case numbers?

State metrics:

  1. Percentage of positive tests compared to total tests: 4.4%. Trigger is more than 8%. This measure is looking very good.
  2. New COVID-19 cases per 100,000 in population: 7.9. Trigger is more than 7. To put this in context, the county would need to average no more than 236 cases a day for the “case rate” calculation to be 7 or under. As a reminder, here are the thresholds for the four tiers:

Carlsbad cases:

Since our update last Tuesday, seven more cases have been reported in Carlsbad for a total of 670. We estimate that 43 of those cases are currently active.

County numbers:

Sadly, 14 more people have lost their lives countywide to COVID-19 since my Tuesday report for a total of 748.

There have been 558 new cases reported countywide since my update Tuesday, for a new total of 43,445.

Here is a link to the charts and graphs from yesterday.

More outdoor space for businesses

At Tuesday’s meeting, the City Council gave the go ahead for businesses to operate outdoors in the parking lot of The Shoppes at Carlsbad. This follows the City Council’s previous action to implement a “fee holiday” for businesses wanting to expand onto sidewalks and into the street, where that is allowed. The city is also reimbursing businesses that had previously paid the fee during the COVID-19 emergency.

Gift Carlsbad

Now would be a great time to take advantage of Gift Carlsbad, a shop local program designed to help local businesses and support the economy during COVID-19.

The Carlsbad Chamber of Commerce, Carlsbad Village Association and Visit Carlsbad developed the program, which works like this:

Each time customers buy an eGift Card through the online marketplace, they will receive a bonus eGift Card.

  • $25 eGift Card gets an extra $5 eGift Card
  • $40 eGift Card gets an extra $10 eGift Card

With gift cards, money goes to merchants right away, meaning they get some immediate economic relief. Customers benefit because their money goes further. The bonus funds and administrative fees for the program are paid for through sponsorship dollars contributed by the Ready Carlsbad Business Alliance and the City of Carlsbad.

Here are the merchants participating so far, and that number is expected to double:

  • State Street Farmers’ Market
  • Chandler’s Restaurant
  • Carlsbad Brewing Company
  • Handel’s Homemade Ice Cream
  • Carlsbad Danish Bakery
  • Gregorio’s Restaurant
  • The Goods Doughnuts
  • Gelato Love
  • Al’s Café in the Village
  • Village Rock Shop Carlsbad
  • Carlsbad Village Music & Village Vibe
  • Trove Marketplace
  • Cape Rey Hilton Resort & Spa
  • Ocean Crest Spa
  • New Village Arts
  • Barrio Eat Mexican
  • Carlsbad Inn Beach Resort
  • Anytime Fitness Carlsbad
  • Famulare Jewelers
  • Dancin Soul Boutique
  • Cindy’s Swimwear
  • Evolution Dance Center
  • Status Skateshop
  • Sock District
  • Precious Petals Clothing
  • Waxology Carlsbad
  • Linda’s Gift
  • Amazing Lash Studio – La Costa
  • Dollhouse Boutique
  • Justfauzyoupainting
  • Froglanders Crepes & Yogurt
  • Le Macron French Pastries
  • Oohlala
  • Caldera5
  • Carlsbad Village Yoga
  • Caring Transitions of Carlsbad & La Jolla
  • Sun Diego Boardshop
  • Wysh | Life. Home. Style
  • Spa Samudra & Hair
  • Lavender Blu Boutique
  • Carlsbad Cookie Company
  • Gonzo Ramen
  • Carlsbad Ranch Market
  • El Puerto Mexican
  • Jayden Presleigh, The Salon
  • The Cassara, by Hilton
  • Grand Pacific Palisades
  • Carlsbad Seapointe Resort
  • Lady Luck Print Co

Vaccine plan released

The federal government released a comprehensive plan yesterday for how a COVID-19 vaccine will be rolled out once it’s available. Some of the highlights include:

  • Most of the vaccines in trials now require two doses. Some must be given 21 days apart, others 28. The second dose must be from the same vaccine manufacturer. It's anticipated that eventually several vaccines from different manufacturers will be approved and available.
  • Health workers, other essential employees, and people in vulnerable groups will be allocated vaccines first. The National Academy of Medicine and the CDC's Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices are creating plans for who will be first in line.
  • State and local health departments will need to devise precise plans for receiving and locally distributing vaccines. All but one of the vaccines must be shipped frozen and one, from Pfizer, must be shipped at minus 94 degrees.
  • Each state has one month to submit its distribution plan.

You can read the CDC’s 57 page plan here.

Wildfires and air quality

At Tuesday’s City Council meeting we had a proclamation for National Preparedness Month, which is September. This year we are focusing on wildfire prevention, and as we have seen from tragic scenes from the Valley Fire here locally, and the fires in Northern California and Oregon, the threat is very real.

One of the downsides of living someplace as nice as Carlsbad is that it can be hard to picture anything really bad happening. Our Assistant Director of Emergency Services David Harrison explained on Tuesday that more than 50% of wildfires are caused by human behavior, like causing a spark during high winds. Please take a moment today to review this list of tips for preventing wildfires during your normal daily activities and the special preparation steps you should take in the age of COVID-19 should a major emergency occur in Carlsbad.

That’s it for today. Please continue to do your part to slow the spread of COVID-19 in Carlsbad:

  • Wear a mask when you leave home and can’t maintain 6-foot distance from others
  • Wear a mask when you enter businesses
  • Avoid crowds, and when you’re out, stay 6 feet away from others
  • Don’t gather with friends and extended family you don’t live with
  • Wash your hands thoroughly and often. Carry hand sanitizer for times when you can’t easily wash your hands
  • Stay home if you have any symptoms of COVID-19 or think you could have been exposed.

Let’s keep up the good work so that we protect those most vulnerable and support our businesses, schools and other activities we all want to see reopen.

Thank you.

 

Sept. 15, 2020, 1:20 p.m.

Vaccines have been in the news a lot over the past couple of days, including reports that one of the clinical trials for a COVID-19 vaccine had to be temporarily halted because a patient in the U.K. reported a potential side effect. This got me to wondering how big of a problem this would be and, in general, what the overall status of vaccine development is today.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention website has a lot of good information about how vaccines are developed and what the different trial phases entail.

Operation Warp Speed is the collaboration of several U.S. federal government departments and the private sector. So far, there are three potential vaccines being funded by the U.S. government for phase three trials under this initiative:

  • Moderna’s mRNA-1273
  • The University of Oxford and AstraZeneca’s AZD1222 (this is the one that recently had to temporarily halt trials, but has now partially restarted)
  • Pfizer and BioNTech's BNT162 (this is the one that could have trial results by October, according to company officials)

That all seems straight forward enough. What can be confusing is that there are many different simultaneous efforts around the world to develop a vaccine, and countries and health agencies differ in how vaccines are tested and brought to market.

An overview was published last Thursday by a professional association for people who work in regulatory affairs. This article mentions Sputnik V, Russia’s COVID-19 vaccine, which its health ministry said was good to go, but other health experts have doubted. Yesterday the United Arab Emirates approved the “emergency use” of a coronavirus vaccine for frontline workers. China has been using the same experimental vaccine developed by Sinopharm’s China National Biotec Group Company on people who work in high-risk professions since July, including frontline medical professionals.

The Guardian has an article today showing the status of vaccine development for COVID-19. The New York Times has a similar vaccine tracker, updated regularly, if you’d like to learn more.

Case number and tier update

The county has added 1,563 new cases since my report last Thursday, for a new total of 42,887. Carlsbad has added 24 since Thursday for a new cumulative total of 663. We estimate 51 are currently active in Carlsbad. Here are the most important numbers, the two key metrics being monitored by the state:

  • Percentage of positive tests compared to total tests: 4.3%. Trigger is 8%.
  • New COVID-19 cases per 100,000 in population: 6.9%*. Trigger is 7%.

*This number is in dispute. It could be as high as 7.9 (see below).

Here is a link to all the charts and graphs with the COVID-19 case data released yesterday. Below is our weekly update of cases per capita so you can see how Carlsbad is faring compared to others in the region.

Tuesdays are the day the governor announces which counties are moving within the four tier system that categorizes risk of COVID-19 spread. As a reminder, the chart below shows these tiers.

San Diego County is in the red tier, and we don’t expect to change tiers today because the state and county are still reconciling case number calculations. Last week I mentioned a discrepancy with case number data, and depending on which calculation you use, we could be in the purple tier, which would mean closing some things back down if that persists for two weeks. If you are interested in knowing the nitty gritty, the state has made its excel spreadsheet available (San Diego’s numbers are below) on this web page, along with an update on exactly how the numbers are calculated and calibrated.

What’s open and why

Here is the chart showing what can open based on the four tiers and under what circumstances. This system is getting pushback from some who would like more things to open more quickly, and some are questioning the logic of how those decisions are made. The state has put out this list of criteria considered when developing the list of what can open.

  • Ability to accommodate face covering wearing at all times (e.g. eating and drinking would require removal of face covering)
  • Ability to physically distance between individuals from different households
  • Ability to limit the number of people per square foot
  • Ability to limit duration of exposure
  • Ability to limit amount of mixing of people from differing households and communities
  • Ability to limit amount of physical interactions of visitors/patrons
  • Ability to optimize ventilation (e.g. indoor vs outdoor, air exchange and filtration)
  • Ability to limit activities that are known to cause increased spread (e.g. singing, shouting, heavy breathing; loud environments will cause people to raise voice)

COVID tracking? There’s an app for that

UCSD is planning to pilot test an app that will tell students when they’ve come into contact with someone who has COVID-19. The goal is to get it up and running by the time classes resume Sept. 28. SDSU has logged 648 COVID-19 cases since the beginning of the fall semester, so it will be interesting to see if UCSD can keep cases contained with the use of this new app. Here's an article that came out yesterday explaining how it works.

According to an article in today’s San Diego Union-Tribune, one Oxford study detailed an epidemiological model that predicted the pandemic could be stopped in its tracks if 60% of the population used a notification app. Concerns about what happens to the data and other privacy issues have caused many to be cautious about using this technology.

Good news of the day

The LA Times reports some good news today:

  • Over the last seven days, just 3.5% of COVID-19 tests in California came back positive, the lowest rate since the state began reporting the data in late March. A month ago, the positive test rate was nearly twice as high.
  • The number of new confirmed cases has fallen to the lowest level since mid-June, according to a Times analysis of state data.
  • Hospitalizations for COVID-19 have fallen to the lowest levels since the start of April, with 2,869 patients in hospital beds Saturday.

Two areas of concern are tempering this news:

  1. The wildfires have caused some testing centers to close, which could be skewing the numbers.
  2. We haven’t yet seen what effect Labor Day will have on case rates (due to the incubation period and the lag in getting test results added to official reports).

After six months of health order restrictions, officials continue to urge the public to stay vigilant and to keep taking the precautions that are working: wearing face coverings in public, observing social distancing with anyone outside the immediate household and staying home whenever possible.

Today’s City Council meeting

Two COVID-19 related topics will be discussed at tonight’s City Council meeting:

  1. Allowing businesses to operate out of the parking lot at the Shoppes at Carlsbad mall
  2. An update on the city’s commercial eviction moratorium

You can see the full agenda on the city’s website. The meeting starts at 3 p.m. If you’d like to sign up to make comments live by phone, the deadline is 2 p.m., and instructions are here.

I started with vaccine news, and I’ll end on that topic too. I recently addressed the issue of vaccine distribution and how that could work, noting that the city had participated in a mass distribution event once before during the H1N1 outbreak a few years ago at the mall.

Carlsbad resident Lisa Tuomi read this and remembered an even earlier example. She sent me the article below, featuring a photo of her father administering the Sabin polio vaccine at the first mass vaccine clinic in Carlsbad back in 1962. This is the vaccine that eventually eradicated polio in most of the world. Lisa was less than a year old at the time, yet still has friends who received their “polio card” at the time.

Thanks so much for sharing this cool piece of Carlsbad history with us, Lisa.

I’ll be back Thursday with more updates.

 

Sept. 10, 2020, 3:30 p.m.

From the very beginning of COVID-19, public health officials agreed that decisions should be based on data. Exactly which data and how to calculate the data is still an evolving discussion.

Numbers are important. A tenth of one percentage point could mean the difference between a business surviving or closing its doors for good or whether or not kids can return to the classroom. This is why it’s so critical to understand the numbers and have agreed upon ways to analyze the vast amounts of data now available.

Today I am going to attempt to break down some of the confusion around the numbers.

New state metrics

When the governor announced the new four tiered, color coded system for determining the risk of COVID-19 spread in a county, he touted the simplicity of the new approach. Instead of six state criteria, counties would only need to meet two, number of new cases per 100,000 in population and the percentage of positive tests.

County metrics

Just like the state originally had six metrics, the county originally established 13 to guide its decision making (many of these overlapped with the state’s). Remember, counties can be more restrictive than the state, just not less. Even though the state is now looking mainly to just two metrics, the county is still monitoring its original 13.

Same metrics, different calculations

Even when the state and county are measuring the same thing, such as the percentage of positive COVID-19 test results, they can differ on how that statistic is measured. For example, the county calculates a rolling 14-day average of testing positivity percentages. The state uses a different time period for calculating this positivity rate. Both are accurate, they just include different dates.

Case rate data

The number of COVID-19 cases per 100,000 in population is one of the state’s two key metrics. When the state switched to this new four tier system, San Diego County qualified for tier three or the red tier because our case rate was 5.8 per 100,000, and the threshold was over seven.

However, because the state doesn’t want to punish counties that do more testing or give an advantage to those with less access to testing, it adjusts the case rate number for counties not testing at the same rate as the state. Based on that adjustment, San Diego County’s case numbers per 100,000 in population jump to 7.9, over the trigger.

For now, the state has agreed to use the county’s number because of discrepancies in testing data from state labs (backlogs and batching making it hard to calculate accurate daily numbers).

State and county health officials are working all this out, but for now, there is understandable confusion and frustration. I tend to give public servants the benefit of the doubt for just a little longer than many people would. Maybe it’s because I’ve had a peek behind the curtain of multijurisdictional coordination and decision making. It can get complex, let alone in the midst of a global pandemic.

Numbers creeping up

Regardless of which statistic you use, San Diego’s numbers are starting to creep up. When the new tiered system was announced we were able to ease public health restrictions. This coincided with local colleges and universities – and some schools – reopening to in person classes. A total of 444 cases to date have been linked to San Diego State University alone.

Based on the state’s two key metrics, here’s what’s happened:

  • Case rate per 100,000 increased from 5.8 to 6.9.
  • Testing positivity rate increased from 3.4% to 4.2%.

Below are the state’s thresholds for the red tier.

Two weeks of consecutive results

The case rate number is most concerning, but keep in mind, even if we exceed the state’s case rate threshold, we would need to do so for two weeks before our tier would be changed.

Our positivity rate, on the other hand, would actually qualify San Diego County to move to a lower tier because it’s already been below the trigger for tier 3 (orange) for two weeks. However, both metrics need to meet the criteria for two weeks straight before we could move to the less restrictive tier.

The reason tiers are important is because they affect what can open and under what circumstances. Here is a link to what’s allowed to open under which tiers.

Community outbreaks

The county announced three new outbreaks yesterday, one in a restaurant/bar and two in business settings. In the past seven days, 22 community outbreaks were confirmed. The county’s trigger is no more than seven in seven days. A community setting outbreak is defined as three or more COVID-19 cases in people from different households traced back to a single setting.

Community outbreaks are one of the 13 triggers established by San Diego County to determine when it’s safe to ease health restrictions. And, it’s the one trigger that’s consistently missed the mark for weeks now. Last week the county’s public health officer acknowledged that due to a variety of factors, the threshold of no more than seven community outbreaks in seven days might be too low. At the time the 13 triggers were established, the county had not fully ramped up its case investigation and contract tracing capacities. As that happened, identifying community outbreaks became easier. The county had set the trigger based on data from the previous three months, before the increase in tracing.

Even though the state has shifted its focus to just two metrics (test positivity percentage and number of cases per 100,000 in population) the county’s 13 triggers are still being monitored, and the region’s largest school district adopted some of the 13 triggers for their own decision making, including the community outbreak number.

The county health officer said during a news briefing last week that she and her team are working with epidemiologists and other health experts to determine whether or not the community outbreak threshold should be adjusted and by how much.

To me, this again illustrates the challenges local and state governments are facing in trying to live up to the principle of data-driven decisions in a rapidly evolving situation.

Latest case numbers

Since my update Tuesday, 12 more COVID-19 cases have been reported in Carlsbad for a total of 639. We estimate that 46 of those cases are active. Sadly, 12 more people have lost their lives countywide to COVID-19 for a total of 721. The 12 include six women and six men ranging in age from the mid-50s to late 80s. All had underlying medical conditions.

Countywide, we’ve seen 674 more cases since my Tuesday update for a new total of 41,324.

Here is a link to all the charts and graphs from yesterday’s news briefing.

Unmasking more mysteries around masks

Best practices around masks have also evolved. I thought this recent article by the chief science officer for Consumer Reports had a good break down of the latest recommendations about fabric, styles, filters and more. The bottom line remains this: any face covering is better than no face covering, and staying 6 feet from people not in your own household is better still. But, the better your mask fits the more protection it provides, and some fabrics do a better job filtering than others.

Should you visit the dentist?

Four out of five dentists may agree about the best brand of chewing gum, but apparently dentists don’t agree about all topics.

U.S. dentists have taken issue with the World Health Organization’s guidance to postpone dental visits due to the COVID-19 pandemic. An opinion article in today’s Union-Tribune mentions interim guidance put out last month by the WHO advising that routine, non-essential oral care be postponed. The American Dental Association strongly disagrees. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the California Department of Public Health have said that routine dental care can resume. Here is a link to the CDC’s guidance for reducing risk of transmission during dental care. You can read the opinion article here.

Voting during a pandemic

Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, every active registered voter in California will receive a ballot in the mail for the Nov. 3, 2020, Presidential General Election. In addition, polling places will be open for four days instead of one. There will be fewer polling locations than in prior elections, so your polling place has most likely changed.

For in person voting, here are your options:

  • At the Registrar of Voters office beginning Oct. 5, Monday through Friday, from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.
  • At your assigned polling place or the Registrar’s office Saturday, Oct. 31, through Monday, Nov. 2, 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.
  • All will again be open on Election Day, Nov. 3, when the voting hours change to 7 a.m. to 8 p.m.

For the mail in ballot, if you are an active registered voter, you can now sign up to track the status of your mail ballot – when the ballot is mailed to you, when the Registrar of Voters gets it back from you in the mail and when it is counted. Updates are available by text, email or a phone call.

The Registrar of Voters also recommends voters double check their registrations in the next couple of weeks to make sure your ballot is sent to the right address. You can do that here.

This weekend will be the six month mark since the start of our local COVID-19 emergency response. We are all feeling the effects. Families, business owners, seniors and others at high risk, teachers, first responders and most of all our health care workers. Please keep this in mind as you go about your new daily routines. Let’s continue to treat each other with kindness, have a little extra patience for one another and do everything we can to #Care4Carlsbad:

  • Wear a mask when you leave home
  • Keep 6 feet away from people not in your household
  • Avoid crowds
  • Wash your hands often
  • Stay home if you have symptoms of COVID-19 so you don’t spread it to others

I’ll be back next Tuesday with more updates.

 

Sept. 8, 2020, 1:30 p.m.

I hope everyone was able to find a way to stay cool over the long, hot weekend. I wish I could say the weather is getting back to normal, but Santa Ana winds are in the forecast starting this evening. We’ll need to keep an eye on air quality as the winds shift, given the Valley Fire burning about 30 miles east of Downtown San Diego.

Our hearts go out to everyone affected by the fire (as well as the many fires still burning throughout California). We just kicked off a wildfire prevention campaign reminding people to avoid any activity that could cause a spark or fire, like using a mower or an edger, pulling off the road onto dry brush and even grilling outdoors during high winds. Please keep these precautions in mind this week.

Labor Day recap

City staff were out over the weekend, including extra police patrols, lifeguards and even yours truly (disguised by a hat, mask AND sunglasses below). Along with our Community Emergency Response Team volunteers, city staff handed out masks to those who needed them along the upper sea wall and the beach, like we have on other busy weekends over the summer. This time, we also had stamps available for those who wanted to have a mask with a message, such as “Thank you, nurses” and “Stay Safe to Stay Open.” However, “I (heart) Carlsbad” was the clear winner, chosen at a rate of about 50 to 1!

If you saw Carlsbad mentioned on the local news over the weekend, you are not alone. We had all the local news stations come out to cover our Labor Day safety efforts. Here’s a sample of one of the segments from KUSI. We appreciate the media’s support in letting our region know that if you come to Carlsbad, you need to follow health and safety precautions!

I enjoyed meeting so many community members and visitors, and overall everyone was cooperative with the health orders. We did see large crowds, as expected, but let’s hope our collective efforts prevented the same spike in cases we’ve seen following other holiday weekends. We will know in a week or two.

Case number update

These numbers are as of Sunday – the county didn’t report out yesterday.

Carlsbad has had 627 COVID-19 cases to date, an increase of 29 since my report last Thursday. We estimate 41 are currently active.

Under the new state monitoring metrics, San Diego County is currently in Tier 2, also referred to as the red tier. San Diego’s state-calculated case rate is 5.8 and the testing positivity percentage is 3.8% (this number is different from the county number, which is calculated over a different time period – yes this makes it a little confusing). Both of these numbers mean that we do not anticipate that San Diego will be moved to a different tier today when the governor announces changes in county status.

  • In the past seven days, 20 community outbreaks were confirmed. 
  • 308 new cases were confirmed among San Diego County residents on Sept. 5 for a total of 40,650.
  • 3,214 or 7.9% of cases have required hospitalization.
  • 772 or 1.9% of all cases and 24.0% of hospitalized cases had to be admitted to an intensive care unit.

Shooting hoops

Starting today we’ve reinstalled the basketball hoops at city parks and opened community center gyms for some limited activities. For the outdoor hoops, please help keep everyone safe by following all the health orders:

  • Informal play only (no pick-up games and no team practices)
  • Maintain 6 foot distance from those not in your household or wear a face covering

Basketball and pickleball will be available daily at community center gyms under the following schedule:

M-F
Pickleball, noon to 4 p.m.
Basketball, 4 to 8 p.m.

Sat/Sun
Pickleball, 9 a.m. to 1 p.m.
Basketball, 1 to 5 p.m.

Call the specific gym you’d like to use to make a 90-minute appointment

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

  • No pick-up basketball games and no team practices
  • Everyone in the gyms must wear masks at all times

Gift card program update

The new gift card program managed by the Carlsbad Chamber of Commerce and Carlsbad Village Association is off to a great start, with more businesses joining every day. When you buy a gift card for a local business through this website, you get extra money added to the card, providing extra value for shoppers and a much needed boost in revenue for our local businesses. Please check it out.

This week’s public meetings

There is no City Council meeting today. Next meeting is a week from today.

Tomorrow starting at 3 p.m., the Housing Element Advisory Committee meets to discuss next steps in selecting potential sites for new housing in Carlsbad, based on input from the City Council and a recent public survey. You can watch live and provide comments. Here is a link to the agenda and other background.

Also on the topic of housing, on Thursday our Housing Commission meets at 3 p.m. Here is a link to that agenda.

From Chase Field to pitching against the Yankees!

Last week Thomas Eshelman, who attended Carlsbad High School and now plays for the Baltimore Orioles, faced off against the New York Yankees for the first time as a starting pitcher. The Yankees won 6-5, but that didn’t diminish the thrill for his parents, who still live in Carlsbad and cheered him on, just as they did in the early days of Carlsbad Youth Baseball at Chase Field.

Another hometown claim to fame

Also last week, 93-old Carlsbad resident Betty Woolf was notified that she and her two siblings, Joseph and Minna, have achieved a world record in the Guinness Book of World Records. They are now officially the world’s oldest living set of (mixed) triplets. Betty’s daughter had first sought to claim the record for her mother, aunt and uncle when they turned 90, but at the time they were not the oldest. Following this year’s birthday in February, she tried again, and now it’s been verified. You can see the official entry here.

Now living on different coasts, the siblings usually get together for their birthdays, but this year, due to the pandemic, they had to settle for a virtual celebration. Tragically, Minna’s husband died earlier this year from COVID-19, a sad reminder of how fragile life can be.

Please continue to do all you can to slow the spread of COVID-19:

  • Wear a mask when you leave home
  • Keep 6-feet away from people not in your household
  • Avoid crowds
  • Wash your hands often
  • Stay home if you have symptoms of COVID-19 so you don’t spread it to others

I’ll be back on Thursday with more updates.

 

Sept. 3, 2020, 12:20 p.m.

Yesterday’s San Diego County COVID-19 news briefing focused on San Diego State University’s decision to suspend in person classes following a spike in cases. Headed into a holiday weekend known for get-togethers with friends and family, I hope this news reminds people that our recent success in slowing the spread of COVID-19 can be quickly lost if health precautions aren’t maintained.

Health officials have feared all along that we would enter a roller coaster like pattern of openings and closings. When tight restrictions are in place, cases go down. When cases go down, people get a false sense of security and stop following the health precautions that were the very reason for the decrease.

Young people are known for feeling invincible. The rest of us know better. I urge you to continue to do everything you can to help our county maintain the good momentum we’ve built. It’s a fragile thing.

Labor Day prep

The city is doing its part to prevent a post Labor Day surge in cases by ramping up our presence along the coast, in the Village and other gathering spots. If you head out this weekend, you’ll see extra bike and ATV patrols at the beach, water patrols on the Agua Hedionda Lagoon and mask distribution sites on the sea wall and in the north beach area. City staff will be making the rounds at local businesses as well to make sure they’re aware of the recently released rules, including occupancy limits.

We have also been in touch with hotel managers and short-term vacation rental owners to make sure visitors get the message too. Several weeks ago, as part of our “Stay Safe Stay Open” campaign, we provided extra signs, floor decals and electronic message boards for hotel lobbies to make sure visitors are aware of the local health orders. Finally, we are closing the Ocean Street parking lot except for disabled access from Friday through Monday.

I think I’ve mentioned in previous emails that the city has had a dedicated team of leaders assigned to our COVID-19 response from before the local health emergency was even declared. Several of us will be helping our Community Emergency Response Team volunteers distribute masks over the weekend at the little patch of grass at the north end of the sea wall. If you happen to be in the area, be sure to say hi.

Vaccine news

Health officials have long maintained that widespread availability of a COVID-19 vaccine would be needed before we could really begin to put this public health crisis behind us. UCSD announced that next week it will begin enrolling residents in a clinical trial of AstraZenica’s vaccine as part of a national trial including 30,000 people in 36 states. About 1,200 will take part in the UCSD-based trial. (Here is the UCSD clinical trials website. This trial won’t be listed until next week but there are other trials recruiting now.)

This will be the second major clinical trial with ties to San Diego. In July, a trial began for Moderna’s vaccine. That work is still underway.

The CDC’s top epidemiologist, Anthony Fauci, said that even though the first trials aren’t scheduled to conclude until the end of the year, if an independent review board gives the okay based on early results, the first doses could be distributed earlier. Yesterday, the CDC asked states to get plans in place for mass vaccine distribution as soon as Nov. 1. Here’s one of the CDC’s plans, which shows the complexity involved in vaccinating millions of people.

I am sure more details about the logistics will come out soon, and the City of Carlsbad will be ready to support the effort. We actually have experience with “PODs” (points of distribution). As part of our emergency preparedness plans, we have mapped out locations, procedures, traffic control plans and staffing in the event that we need to get medicine, antidotes or vaccines to large amounts of people quickly. I know that sounds a little scary, but it’s a necessary part of a comprehensive emergency plan.

Although we’ve done exercises, we’ve also done the real thing, just once. During the H1N1 flu outbreak, we worked with the county to set up a mass vaccination clinic at what is now the Shoppes at Carlsbad mall.

Landlord and tenant protections

There has been a lot of activity lately related to protecting renters from being evicted due to COVID-19 financial hardship, as well as some relief to small landlords that rely on rent to pay their mortgage payments.

The governor just launched a new campaign called “Housing is Key” aimed at connecting renters and landlords with helpful information and resources. This coincides with the passage of the Tenant, Homeowner and Small Landlord Relief and Stabilization Act of 2020. Here is a fact sheet summarizing the bill and here’s a link to the actual bill.

Yesterday the CDC issued an order halting evictions too, pointing to its authority to take measures that are reasonably necessary to mitigate the spread of communicable diseases. The rationale, according to CDC officials, is that many people who are evicted due to financial hardship will end up living with friends and relatives or in shelters, all of which involve an increase in close contact and potential spread of COVID-19. The official order is scheduled to be published in the Federal Register tomorrow, but you can see the unofficial draft for now.

Similar to public health rules, cities may enact greater restrictions than the state and federal governments, but we cannot be more lenient. The state and federal laws relate to residential evictions only. The Carlsbad City Council passed a temporary ban on some commercial evictions back in April and is scheduled to discuss this topic at its Sept. 15 meeting.

Latest case numbers

Since our update Tuesday, two more COVID-19 cases have been reported in Carlsbad for a new total of 598. We estimate 28 of those cases are active, seven fewer than my Tuesday report.

The county is reporting 517 new cases during that same period for a new total of 39,121.

Unfortunately, 13 new COVID-19 deaths have been reported since my Tuesday update for a new total of 682.

The county is reporting three new outbreaks since yesterday (2 restaurants/bars, 1 residence) for a total of 18 in the last seven days. The county’s target is no more than seven in seven days.

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

State metrics

Staying in the red is usually a bad thing, but for San Diego County, it’s a good thing. San Diego County’s state-calculated case rate is 5.8 per 100,000 in population, and the testing positivity percentage is 3.8%. This puts us in tier two, or the red tier. We are still the only Southern California County in this tier. Most of the state is in tier one, which is purple.

Reporters had a lot of questions yesterday about how to calculate the case rate based on the state’s new metric. You can see the formula below, but the main thing to keep in mind is that it’s virtually the same as the old metric but reflects cases per day vs. cases over a 14 day period.

The state will update the status of counties weekly on Tuesdays starting next week. Right now, we need to focus on staying in the red and working toward orange, tier three, which would allow more things to open.

Young people, part 2

The rise in cases at SDSU is in line with a trend the County has been reporting on throughout the summer. The number of young people who test positive for COVID-19 has been steadily increasing, especially since businesses started to reopen in July.

Of the more than 39,000 COVID-19 cases reported in the region, San Diegans between 20 and 39 years of age represent more than 44% of all cases.

Since the state uses the county’s case rate and testing positivity numbers to determine which sectors of the economy can reopen and to what extent, it is important that everyone follow public health orders, which are designed to minimize the spread of the virus.

I’d like to thank those of you who were able to scare up some young people to give us feedback on our new campaign targeting those ages 20 to 29. We’re going to reach out to them today. In the meantime, here’s a sneak peek at one of the videos we will be releasing this weekend.

What’s open and how much?

I wanted to again provide the latest information about what’s open and under what rules. Here is a link to an “at a glance” chart listing what can open and other details for each of the four state tiers. You can also look up specific activities and industries to find out the rules.

Under the county’s updated health order:

  • Indoor dining strongly encourages limiting persons sitting at a table to members of the same household.
  • The restaurant shall obtain the name of each guest seated at a table and the telephone number of at least one guest and shall maintain the list of names and telephone numbers for three weeks.
  • Guests dining indoors will be required to wear face coverings at all times while in the facility, including when seated at a table before the meal is served and after the meal is finished.
  • Gyms, hair salons and personal care businesses need to keep a log of names and phone numbers of patrons to assist with contact tracing should that become needed.

Shooting hoops

On Tuesday morning we will be reinstalling the basketball hoops at city parks. In accordance with the current health orders and to help keep everyone safe, please remember:

  • Informal play only (no pick-up games and no team practices)
  • Maintain 6 foot distance from those not in your household or wear a face covering

We will also reopen gyms, by reservation only, starting Tuesday, for basketball and pickleball. Here’s how that will work:

M-F
Pickleball, noon to 4 p.m.
Basketball, 4 to 8 p.m.

Sat/Sun
Pickleball, 9 a.m. to 1 p.m.
Basketball, 1 to 5 p.m.

  • Call the specific gym you’d like to use to make a 90 minute appointment
    • Calaveras Hills Community Center, 760-602-4680
    • Pine Avenue Community Center, 760-434-5022  
    • Stagecoach Community Center, 760-602-4690
  • No pick-up basketball games and no team practices
  • Pickleball players, basketball players and any other entrants must wear masks at all times within the community centers

Help for businesses

I am happy to report that the City Council approved the two programs I mentioned Tuesday, a “fee holiday” for businesses that want to expand operations outdoors and a new gift card program.

So far we’ve had more than 70 businesses move at least some of their operations outside. Even though more indoor operations are now allowed, the added space allows for better physical distancing and air circulation, both of which slow the spread of COVID-19.

To take advantage of the gift card program just go to this website starting Friday. It lists the stores that are participating. Check back often because stores are still in the process of signing up. When you buy a gift card, additional money gets added as an incentive. This helps shoppers and provides a much needed boost in revenue for our local businesses.

I’ll be back on Tuesday with more updates. In the meantime, please continue to do everything you can to slow the spread of COVID-19 in our community. It’s going to be hot, making covering your face a little more uncomfortable, but please do it anyways. Remember, this isn’t to protect you, it’s to protect your fellow community members. Here’s a copy of new banners you’ll see along the sea wall starting this weekend.

I think that says it all.  Thank you!