Carlsbad, CA –Of all the numbers that come in daily related to the COVID-19 pandemic, two are of particular interest here locally: One we want to go up (vaccines), and the other we want to go down (case numbers). Both are headed in the right direction, but not quite enough to allow us to loosen restrictions yet.
Vaccine progress The county announced yesterday that just over 10% of people 16 and older in our region have been fully vaccinated. In all, San Diego County has received more than 1 million doses, 924,000 of which have been administered.
Johnson & Johnson Over the weekend, the FDA granted emergency use authorization to the Johnson & Johnson single-dose vaccine. The federal government plans to ship the entire supply this week, about 3.9 million doses. Another 16 million doses are expected to be ready by the end of March.
The federal government is also expected to announce a partnership today with Merck, another large pharmaceutical manufacturer, to help produce the Johnson & Johnson vaccine. Under the Defense Production Act, something normally used during wartime, Merck will be able to quickly procure the equipment and supplies needed to stand up at least two manufacturing facilities that could end up producing more vaccines than Johnson & Johnson. This arrangement is being touted as a unique partnership between rivals.
More people now eligible About a half a million more people in San Diego County are now eligible to get vaccinated. You can see the categories below. One of the things that has made eligibility a little confusing is not knowing exactly how the different groups are defined. The county put out more details late last week on the following groups:
Emergency servicesChild care and educationFood and agriculture
Different groups are also being referred to different locations and providers (these details are also included in the links above).
The next big milestone is coming March 15 when those 16 or older can get vaccinated if they have a condition that makes them at a higher risk of a severe case COVID-19.
Appointment tips If you are eligible to be vaccinated and having trouble finding an appointment, hang in there. Vaccine supply is coming in very sporadically, which makes planning ahead difficult. My best advice is to keep checking provider websites (including the county’s). We have a list of providers with direct links to their appointment systems on the city’s website.
Case numbers While vaccine supply is going up, case numbers are coming down. Unfortunately for San Diego County, our case numbers are not quite low enough to get us into the red tier. We are currently at 15, and the trigger is 7 or below. But, if trends continue, we will be there soon.
Agreement reached on school reopening On Monday, the governor announced a $6.6 billion budget package that, if passed, will incentivize all K-12 schools to open for in-person instruction by the end of the month.
Just over $2 billion dollars is allocated to fund safety measures to support in-person instruction, such as personal protective equipment, ventilation upgrades and COVID-19 testing. Another $4.6 billion would fund expanded learning opportunities, such as summer school, tutoring and mental health services. The California Senate Budget and Fiscal Review Committee will consider the bill today. Public schools serving Carlsbad are already in the process of expanding on-campus learning, with various start dates either already announced or imminent. If the bill passes, it sounds like they can look forward to some additional resources and support.
Carlsbad’s life sciences sector in the spotlight Thermo Fisher, which has a large campus at the corner of Faraday Avenue and College, has acquired Mesa Biotech, a company that makes at-home, quick-result COVID-19 tests. The $450 million purchase is part of Thermo Fisher’s strategy to get into “point of care” diagnostics, according to the company’s announcement.
Many people don’t realize that Carlsbad is home to some of the biggest names in the life sciences field, providing high paying jobs and attracting an entire support system of complementary businesses.
Flower Fields reopen The Flower Fields was one of many local attractions that had to close down last year due to the stay-at-home order. This was a tough blow to the company that operates the flower fields, which depends on revenue generated during a pretty short window each spring. They ended up mowing down the flowers early to save on water costs. With the beautiful fields of ranunculus being so inextricably linked to our city’s heritage, this was one of many moments that made the pandemic feel real in those early days.
I am happy to report that The Flower Fields reopened yesterday, with county-approved modifications to help protect public health. Tickets must be bought online, capacity has been reduced by half, and of course masks are required. But the head cultivator said he expects a beautiful display this year due to optimal conditions in the fall.
So, I think that’s a fitting place to end today. Oftentimes the benefits we see today are the result of things that happened weeks or even months ago. The low case numbers are a direct result of your continued vigilance. Likewise, getting to a less restrictive tier and resuming more activities will come in the weeks ahead if we all work together to maintain the gains we have made. We can do it! Spring is coming.
Scott Chadwick, City Manager
City of Carlsbad | 1200 Carlsbad Village Drive, Carlsbad, CA 92008