Carlsbad, CA — Given all the somber news I’ve had to share lately, I want to start today with something positive. The city recently launched a photo series profiling local residents and sharing their stories of life during the COVID-19 pandemic. By highlighting all the ways our community members are caring for themselves and each other, we hope to provide a little comfort, hope and inspiration during this challenging time in our city’ history.
Here’s a sample: meet Nazila, who sees the value of finding support for herself so she can support others through her work.
“I’m a licensed marriage and family therapist and am supporting a lot of people through the group practices that I’m a part of. There’s a great need for therapists right now and it’s been challenging. I’ve had to learn to say no. I’ve also recognized that I need more support than usual right now. As a therapist, I need to receive my own help and encouragement so I can continue to support others. I’m finding that through morning meditation, online groups, my own teachers I rely on and my partner is also a great support. He encourages me.I’ve lived in many different cities and traveled a lot, but one of my favorite places is along Highway 101 where I can take my two dogs out. We live off Cannon and the wooded areas around us are beautiful. There’s always some kind of trail nearby. I feel safe here.My partner and I both had COVID and both recovered well, but it was so scary. My partner had preexisting conditions and he took longer to recover. The mental struggle of it was not worth it. I know at some point, we got tired and weren’t wearing masks, but don’t let your guard down. Don’t have too much fear, but be concerned enough to take care of yourself. It was scary and not worth getting.Right now I’m focusing on the positive and feel relaxed. This time has brought me and my partner closer and for us it’s been good. Having the right perspective is the most important.” You can see other stories on the city’s website. If you would like to share your story of life during COVID-19 and how you are making it through the day, things you’ve found that help you cope and ways you have been able to help others, please email firstname.lastname@example.org, and we’ll get in touch!
Vaccine update Another positive story for today, a second vaccine is on the horizon. Moderna announced promising results from phase three trials earlier this week. Specifically, its vaccine was 94% effective in the trial participants. Pfizer’s vaccine was originally reported to 90% effective, but the company has now completed more testing, which shows it’s 95% effective. Either way, both are well over the 50% threshold established by the CDC. The next step is for the companies to complete their trials and apply for emergency authorization, which could start within days. If everything goes just right, vaccines could start to be given to very specific populations by the end of this year.
To put this in perspective, here is a compilation from The New York Times showing how long it took to develop vaccines for other diseases:
Health experts are stressing that the average person will likely not see a COVID-19 vaccine available until at least spring 2021. Both vaccines require two shots, meaning we need double the production capacity to have enough for everyone. Both need to be stored in the cold, which presents logistical challenges with mass distribution.
The Pfizer vaccine requires extra cold storage. How cold? Try minus 112 degrees Fahrenheit. USA Today reported that at such a cold temperature, rubber will shatter, metal can become brittle and exposed skin freezes almost instantly. Apparently, the news has caused a rush on dry ice and medical grade freezers.
Unfortunately, the vaccines will not be here soon enough to get life back to normal by the holidays. But I think everyone agrees that this bit of good news will at least make it easier to put up with the health restrictions just a little while longer.
If you’d like to know more about vaccine development, this page on The New York Times’ website has a lot of interesting information.
At home test approved
On Tuesday, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration issued an emergency use authorization for the first COVID-19 test for self-testing at home that provides rapid results. The Lucira COVID-19 All-In-One Test Kit is a single use test using a self-administered nasal swab that provides results in about a half hour. The cost is projected to be about $50 per test and requires a prescription from a health care provider.
Other at home tests have been approved, but those required you to send your sample to a lab for analysis, delaying the results.
New records reachedWe have gone from not enough data in the early days to the fire hose of data that we have now. Here are some recent statistics that caught my eye:
- Nationwide, more than 250,000 have now died from COVID-19.
- Here in San Diego County, we are nearing the 1,000-person milestone for deaths, at 945 to date.
- On Wednesday, COVID-19 killed nearly 1,900 people nationwide— the highest number of fatalities reported in a single day since the first week of May. At this rate, coronavirus is now killing on average at least one American every minute of the day.
- Also on Wednesday, the country set a record for the number of virus patients hospitalized, a number that has more than doubled in the last month.
Johns Hopkins University continues to expand its dashboards of COVID-19 data. I encourage you to take a look. Below is one example that overlays cases in California with policy decisions about health restrictions.
Closer to home, here are the latest data tracking COVID-19 in San Diego County (again notice the increases).
The county continues to stress that most cases are not linked to outbreaks. However, you can see by the data below, that outbreaks are still a concern, especially at businesses and restaurants.
In Carlsbad, our case numbers are consistently lower than average. In fact, we tend to have the lowest in the entire county per capita. And, thankfully, we have not had any Carlsbad residents die from COVID-19.
I cannot mention our “low” numbers without also warning that we must still be vigilant in following all health precautions. As you can see by the chart below, our cases are, in fact, rising quickly, just like cases in the county, state and country.
More Carlsbad-specific case 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:
Thanksgiving plansI am again sharing the CDC’s guidance for safer holiday celebrations as well as our county guidelines. Please keep in mind that close contact should be avoided even with family members if they live in a different household.
So far it looks like it will be cool, but not rainy, on Thanksgiving Day. So, please bundle up and move any gathering you may be planning outdoors. All in home gathering should be limited to no more than three households, and 6-foot distances should be maintained between households. Face coverings should be worn except when eating and drinking.
Emergency rental assistance In addition to the health effects of the COVID-19 pandemic, the economic effects have been significant. I am pleased to report that the city has partnered with Interfaith Community Services and the Community Resource Center to manage and implement the CARES Act funded Carlsbad Emergency Rental Assistance Program. The program provides up to $4,500 of rental assistance payments on behalf of qualifying Carlsbad residents who have lost income due to COVID-19 and who meet federal low-income requirements. Residents can find program details on the city’s housing website or by directly contacting:
Interfaith Community ServicesRental Assistance Screening Line: 760-448-5696 Website
The application period is now open, and applications will be accepted until funds have been expended.
Carlsbad recognized as top 10 “digital city”Like all organizations, the City of Carlsbad was faced with an immediate transition to remote work amid the COVID-19 outbreak. Like many government organizations, the city had no prior experience with remote work or flexible work schedules for staff. Within three weeks, we were able to successfully shift more than 500 employees to work safely from home.
The City of Carlsbad has now been recognized as a top 10 digital city for its efforts to address COVID-19 through digital infrastructure, cybersecurity and online community services. The recognition comes from the Center for Digital Government, a national research and advisory institute on information technology policies and best practices in state and local government.
Ensuring proper cybersecurity was a big part of this effort. We ramped up employee education about common scams and even implemented a “secret shopper” effort to try to lure employees into clicking on links they shouldn’t. Those who fell for the ruse had to complete additional online training. Finally, we transitioned our public meetings, community programs and events, library services, building inspections and more to a virtual environment, allowing us to continue to serve the public while in-person services were suspended.
I’d like to give a huge shout out to our City Council and staff for working together to drive innovation during this critical time.
That’s it for today. At Monday’s news conference, the governor hinted that some additional guidelines and restrictions could be announced Friday. We’ll share this on our social media and city website. As a reminder, here is where you can follow the city’s official social media channels. If you don’t use social media, you can see our live Twitter feed on the city’s website even if you don’t have a Twitter account.
Today’s update was long, so thanks for hanging in there until the end. I very much appreciate you taking the time to keep up with the latest COVID-19 news affecting our city. Please share as much as you can with friends and neighbors. We are all in this together, and together, we will get through it. There is light at the end of the tunnel now, so let’s all get there healthy, safe and well.
Scott Chadwick, City Manager