Vista Chamber of Commerce Holds a Virtual Government Affairs Meeting for the Month of April
TR Robertson– The Vista Chamber of Commerce held a Virtual GoToMeeting for the Government Affairs Committee, for the month of April, involving a number of National & State Government leaders and representatives as well as a number of County representatives to hear an update on how different organizations and groups are dealing with and assisting with the current pandemic sweeping the nation.
Starting off the meeting was a presentation by Congressman Mike Levin as he detailed the steps currently underway to deal with community and business interests surrounding the COVID-19 outbreak. He said he is amazed at the strength and resilience being shown by people around the state. He said we should all be ready to help and assist anyone who needs a helping hand siting something as simple as helping the elderly with ordering groceries online so they don’t have to venture out to grocery stores. He said this is certainly one of the greatest public health and economic crisis the U.S. has ever had to deal with. The U.N. said this is our greatest challenge since World War II, but is now truly a world-wide challenge. The Congressman went over some of the details surrounding the passage of various bills to assist states, hospitals, health care workers and the general public. The CARES Act for one will hopefully assist state and local governments, realizing health care agencies and hospitals still need additional funds. Hospitals can submit a list of needs for assistance. He said by April 13th many citizens will begin to receive electronic checks, followed several weeks later with paper checks to others as part of the assistance program. The Relief Bill will provide assistance for small businesses in the form of loans and help with the application process. Citizens can, at this time, draw funds out of their 401K up to $100 thousand dollars with no penalties, but they will have to pay taxes on the money. The Congressman wrapped up his presentation by reminding people the Stay At Home policy is working and he said follow the guidelines set-up to deal with COVID-19.
Assemblywoman Tasha Boerner Horvath pointed out California is beginning to have one of the lowest curves in the number of outbreaks, due in part to the Stay At Home policy. She said the state is short 50,000 hospital beds, if the predictions for the next several weeks play out. She said the next 6-8 weeks will be critical in getting this under control. Assemblywoman Horvath said the San Diego hospitals and the county have been working together quite well to prepare for this outbreak. She said one concern is Senior’s living and congregating together in areas like Senior Assisted Living homes. She did point out that any companies who could reorient their businesses to producing goggles and gloves is needed. A 7 day surge of number of infected is expected as more testing is done. She stated that this is truly a time for both parties to work together and forget partisanship. There was a reminder that schools will stay closed for this school year and there will be no SAT or ACT testing. Summing up there was also a discussion of the duties and obligations of renters and landlords as the first of the month is now here.
Vista Mayor Judy Ritter said the city is working with the county and other cities to follow the guidelines set-up by the state. She reminded everyone that the cities web site has all of the current COVID-19 information and guidelines. As of now, she said there has been no COVID-19 resident. All parks and recreation areas are currently closed and rules should be followed regarding this. Mayor Ritter said to go to www.vistarecreation.com to get suggestions on how to stay active and for virtual exercises now that we are to stay home. She said that like everywhere else, our businesses are severely impacted, but citizens can go to the city’s web site for a listing of all businesses still open at this time. One suggestion is to call 760-643-5288 for more information, especially concerning home delivery services offered for seniors. Correction: “The latest number of positive COVID-19 cases in Vista as reported by County Health Officials on March 31 is 8.
Since that time, as of April 6 at 8 am, there are 21 positive cases in Vista.
Matthew, from Senator Pat Bates Office, reported business people can contact the Vista Chamber of Commerce for a list of frequently asked questions concerning small businesses during this time. There have been a number of questions about the closed DMV Offices. There is currently a 60 day driver’s license extension for expired licenses and for Senior’s a 120 day extension. Obtaining REAL ID licenses has been extended to October 2021. There is still no established starting date for the return to Sacramento.
Kristal Jabara, from Supervisor Desmond’s Office, reported there is a 2:30 daily press conference from the County regarding the COVID-19 outbreak. She said there possibly will be stricter guidelines instituted in the near future. She pointed out there has been an increase in the National Guard presence, especially regarding setting up additional medical facilities. Also, the county has reserved an additional 12,000 hotel rooms to house those that need self-isolation, doctors needed a place to stay and possibly assistance with the homeless housing.
Michael Hadland, from Cox Communications said Cox is currently working with local school districts to see how they can assist them. They are also working with Cox business customers on payments and phone services as well as public customers. He said there has been an especially heavy infrastructure services use, especially in the afternoon.
Ris Baron, from San Diego Water County Authority wanted to assure everyone that San Diego water is totally safe to drink and purchasing large quantities of bottled water is not needed. She reminded everyone to get out the word to not put anything down toilets except toilet paper, unless you want a plumber in your home.
Katie Scanlan, from San Diego Gas and Electric said SDG&E is setting up optional payment plans for businesses and customers as well as providing a number of assistance payment plans. She said no late fees are currently being charged. Katie said call for more information. SDG&E has postponed all non-critical work that was planned and there will be no outages and they are only doing necessary maintenance. SDG&E gave $1 million to the COVID-19 resource funds to help non-profits and SEMPRA had donated $1.5 million. At this time no phone service will be disconnected for non-payment.
John Osborne, from ATT, said cell sites on wheels are being set-up where needed. He said the Network is currently performing well but there has been a lot of usage. Overage charges are waved for the next 60 days and no one will be disconnected at this time for lack of payment. Their employees received extended pay leaves and 60% of all ATT stores are currently closed. They are creating a distance learning program for schools and they are underwriting e-learning for the state. He pointed out their technicians are working as first responders in the field.
Rachel Beld, Vista Chamber CEO, reminded everyone to tell businesses the Chamber is there to help them. The staff is on a reduced schedule but there is always someone in the office to take calls. Rachel pointed out that Vista Unified Virtual School will be kicking off next Monday for students. In addition, the Vista Magazine Spring Issue is now available. Some of the activities for the Chamber now include a Virtual Coffee & Conversation with Rachel and the Vista Chamber Lunch & Learn Virtual Workshop by Thrivent Financial. The Strawberry Festival has been moved to Sunday, September 6th. For more information email [email protected] or go to www.VistaChamber.org .
Amanda Lee, from the City of Vista, went over some recent City Council meeting agenda items. At the March 10th meeting the Council approved a strategic plan for dealing with Vista’s growing homelessness. On March 18th, the Council took part in a tela-conference to address the COVID-19 pandemic. The upcoming April 14th conference will be a video conference.
The next meeting for the Government Affairs Committee is set for May 5th.