December 2, 2021 –Yesterday, the California Department of Public Health and the Centers for Disease Control announced the first confirmed case of COVID-19 caused by the new Omicron variant was detected in the U.S. in Northern California. The individual was a traveler who had returned from South Africa last week.
More information on the new variant and COVID-19 updates below, along with these topics:
- Construction progress on Carlsbad’s newest dog park
- Tell us how COVID affected your parks and recreation priorities
- New veterans fellowship program coming to Carlsbad
- Carlsbad earns Top 10 spot on Digital Cities list
- Save money and water with rain barrel rebates4 tips for safe holiday decorating
- Support local businesses this holiday season through GiftCarlsbad
- New free online library learning resources
- Meet the author event with Annabelle Gurwitch
- Free Friday international films
- Caring for Carlsbad’s trails
- Upcoming public meetings
- Get into the holiday spirit at Holiday at the Rancho event Saturday
COVID-19 updateMuch of the news this week has been focused around the new COVID-19 variant, named Omicron by the World Health Organization. There is still a lot we don’t know about the variant, and we expect it will take some time until more information is available on how it spreads, how severe the symptoms are and how effective current vaccines are against it. Here is what we know so far.
- The variant was first detected in South Africa in November.
- At least 115 cases have been identified in various countries around the world as of Nov. 27, with the first detected in the U.S. in Northern California yesterday.
- No cases have been detected in the San Diego region at this time.
- Scientists are concerned about the new variant because it has many mutations that impact infectiousness and the ability for immune systems to protect against the infection.
The California Department of Public Health has created a fact sheet with information about the Omicron variant.
Public health officials are advising everyone continue to follow these precautions to help prevent the spread of COVID-19, including the Omicron variant:
- Get vaccinated and get a booster if you qualify. Vaccines are available through health care providers, retail pharmacies and community clinics. Visit the MyTurn website to make an appointment or find a site near you or call 833-422-4255.
- Wear a mask, especially in public indoor settings, regardless of vaccination status.
- Get tested if you have any symptoms, regardless of your vaccination status. Information on appointments and walk-in locations can be found at coronavirus-sd.com.
- Wash your hands frequently.
- Stay home if you’re sick and distance yourself from others.
President Biden also announced new actions today to help combat COVID-19 and the Omicron variant. Actions include things like expanding vaccine availability for all adults and free at-home testing, efforts to get more youth vaccinated and keep schools open, stronger protocols for international travel, supplying treatment pills to help prevent hospitalizations and death, continued commitment to global vaccination efforts and more. You can read the full statement from the White House that outlines all that will be included in the plan.
Booster recommendations With the emergence of the Omicron variant, the Centers for Disease Control increased its recommendation for booster shots this week. The CDC now recommends that all adults 18 and older get booster shots two months after the one-dose Johnson & Johnson vaccine or six months after the second dose of the Moderna or Pfizer vaccines.
This recommendation is a slight shift from what the CDC advised earlier in November, which was that people should get the booster if they are 50 and older, or 18 and older and living in long-term care facilities. Instead of advising that anyone 18 and older “may” get a booster shot, the CDC is now advising they “should” get the booster shot. Here is where you can read the CDC’s latest announcement.
Why the name Omicron? I was curious when I heard the World Health Organization named the new variant Omicron and came across this CNN article that talks about how the name came about. The WHO uses letters of the Greek alphabet, in order, to name COVID-19 variants. Delta was the last variant that most of us were familiar with, which was followed by eight others including Epsilon, Iota and Lambda that have been less prominent. The WHO shared that it skipped two letters in the Greek alphabet – Nu and Xi – because “Nu” could be easily confused with “new” and “Xi” is a common surname. Next in the 24-letter Greek alphabet is Omicron.
Active cases Active cases in Carlsbad are down by 51 after going down by eight last week. At this time last year we had over 200 active cases, so we are doing a bit better at 159 this week. With much still unknown about the new variant and the holiday season upon us, it’s important we continue to follow health precautions.
In terms of new cases overall, Carlsbad is among the low range when compared to other cities in the region.
Other updates from the county include:
- Among those eligible (now ages 5 and up), 75.1% are fully vaccinated and 84.7% are partially vaccinated.
- 21 new deaths were reported since the last report on Nov. 24, 2021. The region’s total is now 4,346.
- New cases per 100,000 population are at 13.6 overall, and testing positivity is 3.1%.
- New hospitalizations are at 11.4%, above the county’s trigger of 10%.
- ICU capacity is at 28%. The county’s trigger is 20%.
More updates and data can be found in the county’s weekly COVID-19 watch report.
Construction underway at new dog park A new off-leash dog park is starting to take shape at Poinsettia Community Park. This is a project the community requested and helped shape through public input, so it’s exciting to see the progress at the site. Here’s a look at what the site looks like currently.
- Rough grading is wrapping up this week
- Construction of a new restroom building is underway
- Underground electrical is being installed
- Excavation has started on “bioswales,” which are natural-looking channels that collect stormwater runoff
- Work is taking place Monday through Friday, from 7 a.m. to 4 p.m.
- Residents are still able to use the rest of the park. The only minor impacts will be to sidewalks between the pickleball courts and the basketball courts.
- No restrictions are expected for the use of other park amenities
- All parking lots remain open
Construction is expected to wrap up in summer 2022. More details here.
Did COVID change your parks and recreation priorities? While I’m on the topic of future parks, we want your feedback on whether COVID-19 has changed your parks and recreation priorities. In February 2020, the city asked for community input on an updated blueprint that will guide priorities and proposed investments in parks and recreation for the next five years. Then came the COVID lockdowns, and the project was put on hold.
Now we are starting back up and want to know if what we heard pre-pandemic still holds. Please consider attending one of two upcoming virtual public meetings next week where we’ll share what we heard and ask for feedback. Both meetings will be Zoom webinars, so you can participate without your camera on. We will ask for input through on-screen polls and chat.
Thursday, Dec. 9, 6 to 7 p.m. Register
Saturday, Dec. 11, 10 to 11 a.m. Register
Please encourage your friends and neighbors interested in parks and recreation to attend too!
New veterans fellowship program coming to Carlsbad This week, we were honored to host guests from the Department of Labor’s Veterans’ Employment and Training Service team to begin planning a special fellowship program at the city. The fellowship, which is part of the Department of Defense SkillBridge Program, will give active-duty service members the opportunity to gain valuable civilian work experience.
As a veteran myself, I’m proud that Carlsbad will be one of the first cities in the state to roll out this program.
It’s an exciting partnership at no cost to the city where we’ll be able to employ veterans as they look to transition into the civilian workforce. High performers will have the opportunity to compete for future positions with the city. This is another reason why the City of Carlsbad is the best local government around.
Carlsbad earns Top 10 spot on Digital Cities listThe city recently earned top-tier recognition in the Center for Digital Government’s 2021 Digital Cities Survey.
- The awards recognize cities that use technology in innovative ways to better serve their community.
- Carlsbad ranked ninth in the nation among cities with a population of 75,000 – 124,999.
- Carlsbad has been working for several years on new ways to use technology to improve efficiency, customer service and public engagement.
- This year for the first time we created a new section of the city budget that treats technology investments much like traditional infrastructure, like roads and pipes.
- All require ongoing investments, so planning ahead for these needs is key.
Save water and money with rain barrel rebate As the rainy season (hopefully) begins, Carlsbad Municipal Water District customers can save water and money by purchasing low-cost rain barrels through a rebate program that’s being offered for a limited time. The program is a partnership between the water district, the Solana Center for Environmental Innovation and other nearby water agencies.
The rain barrels cost as little as $62 after the $35 rebate. They can be purchased online from the Solana Center by Jan. 31 and picked up at the company’s headquarters in Encinitas.
Rain barrels collect water from the roofs of homes through gutters and downspouts for use on landscaping. With the state in a serious drought, they’re a great water-conservation tool that fits with the governor’s Oct. 19 proclamation urging all counties in California to voluntarily reduce water use by 15%.
Holiday decorating safety tipsIf you’re planning to decorate for the holidays, our Fire Department has some important safety reminders to help protect you and your home.
- Don’t overload outlets. Check lighting instructions for the maximum light strands to connect (usually no more than three), don’t use extension cords for appliances, and only plug one heat-producing appliance into an outlet at a time.
- Take care with candles. Never leave burning candles unattended. Keep them away from pets and flammable items and place candles at least 3 inches apart.
- Maintain your tree. If you’re buying a fresh tree, look for one that’s green with pliable needles, water it frequently and keep it at least 3 feet away from any heat source.
- Watch your step. If you’re using a ladder to hang holiday decorations, make sure it’s on a steady surface, always have three points of contact (two feet and one hand), and never reach.
View the full list of safety tips to keep top of mind this holiday season.
GiftCarlsbad returns for the holidays You can shop local and earn rewards while you support Carlsbad restaurants and businesses this holiday season with the return of GiftCarlsbad. Like last year, shoppers can purchase digital gift cards and earn bonus gift cards in pretty substantial amounts, depending on your purchase, including a $40 bonus if you spend $100.
More than 100 Carlsbad businesses are expected to participate, and more are added each week. GiftCarlsbad is brought to you by the Carlsbad Chamber of Commerce in partnership with the city, the Carlsbad Village Association and Visit Carlsbad. Last year’s program brought nearly $90,000 of economic activity to our community.
Library adds free online learning resources The Carlsbad City Library is offering free access to several new online resources for learning and career development, courtesy of the California State Library. If you have a Carlsbad City Library card, you can take advantage of these free programs.
- Coursera – 5,000-plus courses, as well as certificate programs offered in partnership with top businesses, universities and organizations.
- Skillshare -More than 35,000 video courses on topics including entrepreneurship, graphic design, productivity, freelancing, marketing and illustration.
- GetSetUp – Classes and interest groups for people age 55 and older, held via Zoom by peer experts on yoga, technology, dance and more
- LearningExpress – Prep materials and sample tests for many academic and occupational exams. Learning modules focused on GED skills and basic computer skills.
Meet the author event Speaking of the library, you can meet New York Times bestselling author and actress Annabelle Gurwitch for a live and in-person adventure this Saturday at 2 p.m. in the Schulman Auditorium at the Dove Library. Admission is free and masks are required.
Free Friday films If you enjoy movies, you can also join the city’s Cinema Club to enjoy international films on Fridays in the Schulman Auditorium at the Dove Library. This week’s film is Asia, a dramatic family film from Israel about a mother and daughter navigating life’s challenges. The film will be shown at 4 and 7 p.m. tomorrow, Dec. 3. Admission is free and masks are required.
Check out the full schedule of upcoming Cinema Club films.
Caring for Carlsbad’s trails One of my favorite parts of Carlsbad is our open space and trails. That is largely thanks to wonderful volunteers like those who recently helped our Parks & Recreation staff do some important maintenance work at Lake Calavera Preserve. The group repaired erosion along the trail, trimmed vegetation, picked up trash and cleaned out a culvert to prepare for the rainy season. In addition, Center for Natural Land Management staff and volunteers helped plant a dozen 5-gallon Coast Live Oaks to provide enhanced flood protection and improve the surrounding habitat. People who use the trails were grateful for the improvements and many thanked the team for all their hard work. Thank you to all involved for helping maintain our beautiful trails.
Get involved: Upcoming meetingsThe next City Council meeting is Dec. 7. The agenda is posted on the city’s website along with instructions on how to participate virtually. Here are some topics scheduled to be discussed:
- An update on the city’s investments
- A new discretionary leave program
- Modifying city labor agreements on how overtime is calculated to align with federal law
- The contract to manage the city’s more than 600 acres of open space preserves
- Purchasing replacement golf carts for the Crossings at Carlsbad Golf Course
- A construction contract for the replacement of a wastewater lift station
- A project to enhance safety for pedestrians and bicyclists at six crosswalks on Carlsbad Boulevard
- Hiring a consultant to help complete the Avenida Encinas Coastal Rail Trail, from Palomar Airport Road to Cannon Road
- Amending city law to allow the city to enforce its ban on overnight parking of oversized vehicles even during a state of emergency like the pandemic
- The Age-Friendly Carlsbad Action Plan, which sets goals to enhance the quality of life in Carlsbad for people of all ages
- A $1.5 million loan from the city’s Housing Trust Fund to build a 42-unit affordable housing complex on Palomar Airport Road
- An update on the city’s progress on the City Council’s goal to reduce the unsheltered homeless population
- Appointing three members to the Senior Commission and two to the Traffic & Mobility Commission
We also have these city meetings next week:
- Dec. 6, 3 p.m. – Traffic & Mobility Commission
- Dec. 9, 6 p.m. – Parks & Recreation Master Plan virtual meeting
Don’t forget Holiday at the Rancho event Remember, our Holiday at the Rancho event is happening this Saturday, Dec. 4, from 5 to 8 p.m., at Leo Carrillo Ranch Historic Park. Tickets are $10 per person, kids under 3 are free. You can get into the spirit of the holiday season with arts, crafts, holiday shopping, cookie decorating and more, along with a tree lighting at 5:45 p.m. We will be following all COVID-19 health precautions, including requiring masks inside the Hacienda and stables and encouraging social distance outdoors.
Happy Hanukkah Hanukkah began at sundown on Sunday. This eight-night Festival of Lights is a celebration of hope and a reminder to treasure light in dark times. I want to wish a Happy Hanukkah to all who celebrate.
That’s all for this week. I’ll be back next Thursday with more updates.
Fun things to do
- COVID-19 information
- City Manager’s update
- Council meeting info
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