3/20/20: Compassion and Resilience Are Contagious as Encinitas Stays Home

“When written in Chinese, the word ‘crisis’ is composed of two characters. One represents danger, and the other represents opportunity.”
– John F. Kennedy

The anxiety in Encinitas, as in every community, is palpable right now. But there will be brighter days in our future.

(Photo of the rainbow emerging from the clouds over City Hall by Kris Buchanan.)

Since yesterday, when we were ordered by Governor Newsom to stay at home, the details around what businesses and services are “essential” versus “non-essential” are still unfolding. I’m getting a lot of questions and opinions from residents. Please know that we’re working to get you clear information and guidance as quickly as possible. I’ll be staying in regular touch with you during this crisis.

The setting of last Wednesday evening’s City Council meeting was somewhat surreal. Everyone sat six feet apart to conform with social distancing, and as you can see, most people opted to participate remotely. The lower photo shows what the scene looked like from my vantage point on the dais.

We continue to stay ahead of this rapidly unfolding pandemic. During our City Council meeting, we ordered the active portions of our city parks – like playgrounds, skate parks and ball courts – closed, while leaving the passive elements, like trails, open.

 I urge you to nurture your physical and mental health by getting outside to walk the dog, jog, bike and get physical exercise. We’re blessed with a beautiful outdoor environment. Take advantage of it, while always staying six feet from others, of course. Here, Councilmember Jody Hubbard and I are doing our best to maintain that important social distance while biking last weekend!

Helping Those Who Need It

Coronavirus: If you get sick and even think you might have coronavirus, stay home to recuperate unless you need medical care. If you have more severe symptoms, such as difficulty breathing or fatigue and weakness that make it hard to move around, then of course seek medical care right away. 

Scripps Hospital’s COVID-19 nurse line at 888-261-8431 connects patients to a team of nurses dedicated to screening people with suspected coronavirus symptoms. Patients with fever and respiratory symptoms should call this number first before coming to any Scripps facility. 

Homeless: The City of Encinitas is focused on the social services needed to support high-risk populations such as those experiencing homelessness, older adults and the chronically ill.

We have dedicated resources to provide lodging for people experiencing homelessness in Encinitas, so that people without a home can still abide by the “stay at home” order.

The Community Resource Center is case-managing this for the city. With their thrift stores closed and their annual “English Tea” fundraiser cancelled, the CRC is low on funding and is urgently asking for donations.

The CRC is the “grocery store” for more than 500 families a week, and there is already a surge in requests for help. They are hoping to raise $500,000 through a Community Cares Campaign. The donation link is here, complete with a report on progress so far. If you’d like to help a homeless person stay in a hotel room, a donation here is the best way to make that happen. 

Seniors: Also, FACT (Facilitating Access to Coordinated Transportation) is providing rides to any senior who needs one. This free service can be booked at 888-924-3228 through the end of March.  It’s preferred that 24-hour advance notice be given, but the folks at FACT are doing their best to work with people on short notice. 

I wanted to support a local restaurant and ordered take out food from GOODONYA today without touching a single thing. I ordered on my phone, paid with Apple Pay and never stepped inside. Many restaurants are still serving food for pickup but many have closed down completely. 

Local businesses: This current situation began as a public health crisis, but it’s quickly turning into an economic emergency as well. Many small businesses are in need of our help. Please consider supporting our small business community in any way you can – gift cards, online purchases and delivered food. The situation for many small businesses is dire. 

Employment: While some employers are reluctantly laying off employees, others are actually hiring. There is an immediate need in the grocery and delivery industry. Here’s the link to find employers who are hiring.

If you’re an employer who is hiring, please contact Erik Bruvold at the San Diego North Economic Development Council at ebruvold@sdnedc.org so they can help you get the word out. If you want to get information directly from the North County EDC, which is updated frequently and very useful whether you’re a small business or looking for work, you can sign up for their newsletter. Here’s the most recent EDC update, with a wealth of links. 

And the City of Encinitas has compiled resources for businesses, employers, and employees, featuring information and assistance available for those of us impacted by COVID-19. You’ll see updates about disability insurance claims, applying for unemployment, paid family leave, and small business administration loans. The Encinitas COVID-19 Business Resources website is here.

We are all in this together

It seems like a whole lot is happening really fast, doesn’t it?

When panic threatens to engulf you, it’s important to remember that most segments of our society remain intact. Every level of government is doing everything possible to help. Public safety, public health, the food supply, mail delivery, gas for your car, electricity, the safe water in your tap, working internet… these things remain steadfast.

And the urge to help our neighbors and provide for those in need is particularly alive right now.  

When it comes to “stay at home” orders, it helps to reframe our perspective – instead of lamenting a jail-like “quarantine,” try to focus on the benefits of having the personal time for long term reflection and planning, gardening, reading, trying new recipes, meditation, observing the outdoors and getting more sleep. Avoid obsessively consuming social media and alarmist news. 

Right now we’re aggressively trying to “flatten the curve” to allow the medical establishment the ability to catch up, restock supplies and tests, and manage the caseload. In San Diego County, we have not had a death from the coronavirus yet.

With predictions that half of California could become infected, it’s important that we prepare for the reality that more serious and tragic medical news is likely coming. But it’s not here yet. Focus on what you can do – self-care and personal time, working from home and communicating frequently with loved ones. If you were always planning to take an online course, this is a great time to do that. 

And finally, let’s be compassionate and helpful to those whose lives have been upended by this crisis. For some it’s even more than kids out of school, work schedules scrambled, and incomes reduced. Please be on the lookout for those in serious need and assist them if you can.

In our household, we opened an extra bedroom to a cellist whose concerts have all been cancelled. He was very much at loose ends, with no income or nearby family, and we had an extra room. With appropriate distancing and protocol to minimize risk, this was a small thing we could do to help another person.

We can all be a critical part of the safety net for those around us. For some, it’s financially continuing to pay a house cleaner, even if that person isn’t working, or helping a relative who lives on the edge to cover rent or car payments. For others it may be helping someone who needs a place to live, or if you’re a landlord, cutting the rent for your tenant who isn’t getting any shifts at a restaurant.

There are many people living right on the edge who need us. We can each do a lot in our own circles.

As a resilient and proactive community, I have every confidence that, working together, we’ll come through this difficult time. Let’s move forward together in the spirit of hope, humanity and kindness toward others.

In service,

P.S. Here’s a video that powerfully illustrates in 12 seconds how each of us can help short-circuit this COVID-19 pandemic. Click here or on the picture to play it.

Coronavirus Resources