December 23, — If you are feeling a sense of déjà vu as we head into the Christmas holiday, you are in good company. However, even though COVID-19 spread is surging once again, there are many reasons to feel hopeful. I’ll tell you about those along with the following updates from the city:
- First draft maps for new City Council district boundaries
- Carlsbad’s budget wins national award
- Don’t let your holiday meal lead to a holiday plumber’s bill
- How to recycle your Christmas tree
- New Year’s safety
- A look back … and a look ahead
COVID-19 updateIt’s true that a new very contagious variant has emerged that is causing a surge in cases, and some health restrictions have been brought back. But we are still better off in many ways than we were last year.
- Vaccines are widely available, as are boosters (for 16+)
- New treatments are being approved.
- Nearly 77% of those eligible in San Diego County are fully vaccinated (much higher than the 70% statewide).
So, even as we once again mask up indoors and see major events postponed, we are making progress, and we will get through this.
Vaccination update Vaccines have proven very effective in reducing severe symptoms and hospitalizations. Here is the latest data from the county.
First COVID pills approvedOn Wednesday, the FDA authorized a pill made by Pfizer to treat COVID-19, and earlier today a pill made by Merck also got emergency use authorization. These are the first two treatments that can be done at home. Other treatments approved to date have to be given in a health care setting by IV or an injection. Supplies will initially be very limited and shipped to the hardest hit parts of the country first (which is not likely to include San Diego) and be available only to those most at risk. According to the FDA, the Merck pill is less effective, has more side effects and is subject to more limitations on its uses than the Pfizer pill. However, both represent the ongoing work being done to find new ways to treat COVID-19. Monoclonal antibody treatmentSpeaking of treatments, recently I was asked to share information about monoclonal antibody treatments, which have been under emergency use authorization since last November. The treatments, given by injection or IV in about an hour, reduce symptoms and help people recover more quickly and avoid hospitalization. The treatment can also help prevent COVID-19 if you were in close contact with an infected person. Right now, anyone 12 years old and older is eligible if they meet these criteria:
- Tested positive for COVID-19, and
- Has symptoms of COVID-19, but not for more than 10 days, and
- Weighs at least 88 pounds, and
- Is at high risk for developing severe COVID-19. The following conditions place you at high risk:
- Age 65 or older
- Obesity or being overweight, with a body mass index (BMI) of 25 or greater
- Diabetes, chronic kidney disease, or a condition that weakens the immune system
- Heart disease, high blood pressure, or lung disease (like asthma)
- Other medical conditions or factors, such as race or ethnicity, that may place you at high risk for severe COVID-19
- Was in close contact with a COVID-19-infected person, is not fully vaccinated, or not expected to have enough immune response.
There are three versions available. Of those, initial data show that only one is effective against the Omicron variant, and that one is in short supply at the moment. If you are interested in this treatment and meet the criteria, health officials want you to call your doctor first. If you can’t get it through your own doctor, you can call 619 685-2500 to make an appointment at a county site. The closest one to us is at the Vista Community Clinic. More informationNew state efforts to reduce spreadThe state announced three new measures Wednesday to slow the spread of COVID-19:
- Booster requirement for health care workers to mitigate potential hospital staffing shortages as Omicron spreads and protect Californians in vulnerable settings
- Providing rapid tests for every public school student as kids head back to school
- Increasing testing hours for state-operated sites to expand capacity
Local case update Active cases in Carlsbad have gone up by about 25% since last week, which is a lot, but less than half of the 57% increase in cases countywide.
Here is a look at breakdowns of cases per 100,000 in population by ZIP code in Carlsbad. The ZIP code reporting is about a week behind the citywide data, just FYI.
- Carlsbad is back in the “substantial” spread tier after inching up to the “high” spread tier last week.
- Case rates in three of Carlsbad’s four ZIP codes went down, with 92008 going up.
- Last week three of our four ZIP codes were in the red. This week only one is.
You can see details on county COVID-19 case numbers and other data in the latest COVID-19 Watch newsletter. Tips for a healthy holidayYesterday the county and Hospital Association of San Diego and Imperial Counties put out a joint statement urging everyone to take precautions to reduce the spread of COVID-19 over the next several weeks and lessen the burden on the health care system, including:
- Get vaccinated, including a booster shot if you’re eligible
- Stay home if you’re sick
- Get tested before and after traveling or gathering for the holidays
- If some members of your group are unvaccinated, take precautions
- Wear a mask, and make sure it’s a good one
- Gather outside or increase airflow in indoor spaces
For links and more details about these tips:
First look at redistricting mapsThe city’s Independent Redistricting Commission got its first look last week at proposed City Council district maps. At the commission’s meeting, the city’s demographer, National Demographics Corporation, went over 28 draft maps submitted by the public and four draft maps it created.
- Even though the City of Carlsbad switched to electing City Council members by district in 2017, the districts were created based on the latest Census data at the time, which was from 2010.
- Since that time, some parts of the city have grown more than others.
- Of the draft maps, each showed a different way to balance out the voting age population among the four City Council districts.
- Some of the proposed maps made small changes to existing City Council boundaries.
- Some had part of the city’s coastline in each district, and one had the coastline all in one district.
- One map divided the city into quadrants, using El Camino Real and Palomar Airport Road as the main dividing line, although to balance the population, the boundaries deviated from those main streets in some areas.
Carlsbad wins national award for its budget — again!This week, the City of Carlsbad once again earned a Distinguished Budget Presentation Award from the Government Finance Officers Association of the United States and Canada. This is the 15th consecutive year the city has received the award and the 20th time overall.
- This latest honor is for our fiscal year 2021-22 budget, which was prepared by city staff and approved by the City Council in June.
- To qualify for the award, a government agency must satisfy nationally recognized guidelines for effective budget presentation, including creating a budget that serves as a policy document, a financial plan, an operations guide and a communication tool.
I know the topic of city finances isn’t for everyone, but I do encourage you to take a look at the city budget sometime. It provides a comprehensive overview of where our money comes from and how it will be spent. Every year we work to make the document easier to read, with clear graphics and explanations. It’s an important part of our commitment to transparency and community engagement.
Fatbergs, part 2Before Thanksgiving I shared tips for keeping drains free of clogs when cooking a large holiday meal, by disposing of fats, oils and grease the right way (as in, NOT down the drain). I promised our wastewater staff I would send this reminder before the Christmas holiday:
- Sewer backups are messy and expensive to repair. Scrape food, sauces and oils from plates and pans and into the trash.
- Put a strainer in the sink drain and empty solids into the trash.
- Use your garbage disposal sparingly. Fun fact: these are meant to take care of food scraps that accidentally go down the drain. You aren’t supposed to put food down there intentionally.
- Do not rely on grease cutting detergents to wash away grease.
- Wipe cooking pan residue with a paper towel and throw it in the trash.
- Collect small amount of fat, oil and grease into a container such as a milk jug or coffee can or mix with kitty litter, coffee grounds, or shredded newspaper and throw it in the trash.
- Dispose of larger amounts of used cooking oil responsibly and for free. Call Waste Management at 760-929-9400 or PSC at 800-714-1195 for more information.
If you missed my Thanksgiving reminder and have no idea what a “fatberg” is, check your favorite search engine. I guarantee that after seeing the photos (and videos!) you will be motivated to keep fats, oils and grease out of your plumbing system (and the city’s).
Easy ways to recycle your treeI know Christmas isn’t until this weekend, but since this is my last update of the year, I wanted to let you know how to get rid of your tree when you’re ready. Curbside pickup for Christmas trees will be available from Dec. 26 to Jan. 15 on your regularly scheduled trash pickup days. There are also five drop-off locations in the city that will be open from Dec. 26 to Jan. 15:
- Calavera Hills Community Park, 2997 Glasgow Drive
- Stagecoach Community Park, 3420 Camino de los Coches
- Poinsettia Community Park, 6600 Hidden Valley Road
- Fire Station 1, 1275 Carlsbad Village Drive
- Waste Management, 5960 El Camino Real
There are some important instructions to follow (you must remove all decorations, trees taller than 6 feet must be cut in half, and flocked trees aren’t recyclable, etc.) Get all the information here.
New Year’s Eve safety tipsWe want you to stay safe this holiday season, so while you’re making plans for New Year’s Eve, please follow these tips provided by the City of Carlsbad Police Department:
- If alcohol will be part of your New Year’s Eve celebration, create a plan to arrive home safely. Designate a driver or use rideshare services.
- If you’re planning to host a party, let your neighbors know and give them a way to contact you if the party gets too loud.
- If you’re going to serve alcohol at your party, develop a plan to get your guests home safely and make sure they’re on board. (And remember, the city has a Social Host Ordinance that prohibits serving or providing alcohol access to minors.)
- If you’re going out to celebrate, secure your house. Home security tips can be found here.
- When you reach your destination, park carefully. Be aware of what is going on around you. Don’t leave items unattended in your car.
- Don’t set off fireworks – they’re dangerous and prohibited.
- If you see or hear suspicious activity or a crime, call 9-1-1.
Officers will be patrolling neighborhoods throughout the city on New Year’s Eve, keeping an eye on things. Thank you for partnering with us to help keep our community safe.
What’s open and what’s closed over the holidays
City offices will be closed for the holidays on Friday, Dec. 24, and Friday, Jan. 31. A full holiday schedule for city services is listed below:
- Emergency services Regular service
- Trash pickup Regular service
- City offices Dec. 23, 30 Closing at 2 p.m.
- Dec. 24, 31 Closed
- Monroe Street Pool Dec. 24, 25, 31, Jan. 1 Closed
- Alga Norte Aquatic Center Dec. 24, 31 Open from 6 a.m. to 3 p.m.
- Dec. 25, Jan. 1 Closed
- Libraries and community centers Dec. 23, 30 Closing at 2 p.m
- Dec. 24, 25, 31, Jan. 1 Closed
- Senior Center Dec. 23, 30 Closing at 2 p.m.
- Dec. 24, 31 Closing at 3 p.m.
- Leo Carrillo Ranch Dec. 24, 31 Closing at 3 p.m
- .Dec. 25, Jan. 1 Closed
- The ranch will also close during inclement weather.
- Transit For the holiday transit schedule, please visit http://www.gonctd.com, or call 5-1-1.
Last week I shared some of the city’s accomplishments over the past year, and today I will leave you with a few more – all from our 2021 Year in Review.
I’ll be back Jan. 6 with my first update of 2022. In the meantime, you can keep up with city news on our website and social media.
I’d like to sincerely thank you for spending a little time with me each Thursday, reading up on the latest news from your local government. An actively engaged community is one of the main reasons Carlsbad is the very special place it is today.
I hope you have a wonderful holiday and happy New Year. I look forward to connecting in January!
City of Carlsbad | 1200 Carlsbad Village Drive, Carlsbad, CA 92008