Encinitas Wants to Help Speed COVID Vaccinations as Our Democracy is Tested

January 14, 2021

In the last week, horrified disbelief at the violent insurrection at our U.S. Capitol has turned to deep-seated anger that our sitting president and thousands of American citizens would stop at nothing, including violence against other Americans, to prohibit the peaceful transition of power.
 
Some say this attack was inevitable after four long years of incitement against political enemies, hateful rhetoric, and cruelty against “the other,” from political adversaries, to minorities, immigrants, and even the children of asylum seekers.

In truth, it’s remarkable that this attempted coup was not an absolute bloodbath. One can imagine the rebellion-stoking martyrdom if dozens of rioters had been shot by Capitol police. On the other hand, can you picture the unimaginable if lawmakers or the vice-president had suffered physical harm at the hands of that mob?

Every day I thank goodness for our country’s ingenious distribution of power. Each state has its own election officials and court systems. Across the board, individuals refused to be cowed by violent mobs or give in to Trump’s pressure to change ballot counts. Just think where we would be if there had been enough people in positions of power willing to throw away our precious 243-year-old democracy to keep him in power.

Meanwhile if there’s anything that contradicts Trump’s central fantasy that there’s no way he could have lost in states like Georgia, it’s that the two Republican senate candidates in Georgia also lost last week. Georgia’s voters have sent consistent messages that they want change. 

Now that the House of Representatives has impeached Trump a second time, I can’t help but remember what so many Republicans said the first time he was impeached: just wait for the election and let the voters decide. But when they decided, he wouldn’t accept the answer, using everything from authoritarian
rhetoric to physical violence to stay in power.

As authorities consider whether persons inside our government orchestrated last Wednesday’s siege (who paid for hotel rooms and directed rioters to obscure offices in the hard-to-navigate labyrinth of the Capitol building?), it’s an appropriate time to revisit the definition of “sedition” – “conduct or speech inciting people to rebel against the authority of the state.”

After the events of last week, our country seems much better prepared for possible disturbances on and around Inauguration Day on January 20 in Washington D.C., but I feel deep worry about violence in other places.

Our democratic system feels so fragile right now. But our American values and the rule of law have not broken under the weight of the hate and division. Our former governor Arnold Schwarzenegger, a Republican, likens our democracy to a sword – “The more you temper a sword, the stronger it becomes.” His recent video message is surprisingly candid and inspiring.

It’s up to all of us to make sure America’s bedrock principle that we settle disputes at the ballot box, not through violence, doesn’t crumble in front of our eyes. And it’s equally important that we remember that words matter. Words turn into actions.

For a hopeful way to channel your energies in a constructive direction, please consider attending a free online symposium (shown above): “Healing the Political Divide: A Path Forward Virtual Event” on February 11, hosted by the National Conflict Resolution Center. National best-selling author and Harvard professor Arthur C. Brooks contends our division and polarization is bridgeable. He will share a roadmap for overcoming our culture of contempt.

Meanwhile, the other major crisis in our country continues at full force. 

Encinitas and other cities offer to help with vaccine rollout

Several people have asked me about ways for them to get the vaccine faster, or how they can use their personal or professional skills to help with vaccine distribution. I don’t personally have access to the vaccine to offer to people. If you’re a healthcare worker, you can volunteer for the Medical Reserve Corps. at the county site here or the state site here. All help is needed!

At SANDAG last week, we heard an update from the county about their vaccine distribution system (see chart above), and this week saw the opening of a center for vaccinating those in the first tier at Petco Park. We’re still in Tier 1A, which is that the vaccine is available for healthcare providers and those in long-term care facilities. The county said that they expect us to be in this tier at least until February.

For some perspective, there are 650,000 people in Tier 1A and so far the county has only received 250,000 doses of the vaccine. So even though the state has said those over age 65 can get the vaccine in the next tier, we simply don’t have the supply in San Diego County to even complete the current tier.

The best-case scenario, if all goals are met, is that 70% of those over age 16 in San Diego County are vaccinated by July. 
 
The central message from me and other San Diego County mayors is this: our cities want to help! We have firefighters who are paramedics and EMTs; and we have large unused parking lots where we could run a vaccine site like the one at Petco Park.

I’m currently in direct contact with our County Supervisor Terra Lawson-Remer about how we can set up an operation here in Encinitas to get more people vaccinated sooner.

I haven’t been vaccinated, but my husband’s work in primary care qualified him for a vaccine last week (see photo above). It was a striking emotional milestone for our family. After so many months carrying the responsibility of not infecting the family or any of his patients or colleagues, he felt a tremendous rush of emotion receiving this medical protection against something so deadly. 

Here are two KUSI News interviews I did last week on the vaccine rollout, and a CBS8 article:

Most Encinitas restaurants following public health order 

I’m grateful for the sacrifices made by our restaurants, which are largely complying with the county’s public health order to do take-out only. Last week the city communicated that right-of-way encroachment permits could be revoked for restaurants that weren’t adhering to the order, and most restaurants moved into compliance. Here’s the Coast News story.

It’s heartbreaking to see our downtown so empty. I’ve had several conversations with local restaurant and business owners and I understand the anger, resentment and very real suffering that they are experiencing.

There are so many suffering because of this pandemic, including increasing numbers of those who are sick, kids who are home from school, overburdened healthcare workers, workers without a paycheck, and businesses of all types closed or operating at very low capacity.

The path through this lies with the vaccine, which is why speeding COVID-19 inoculations is such a priority. 

The city’s 2021 Work Plan, and commission positions open

Last night at our City Council meeting, we discussed the city manager’s 2021 Work Plan, which includes putting more energy into managing and helping our unsheltered population, prioritizing finding a site for an affordable housing project, a renewed focus on getting the former Pacific View school activated for community use, and having the city communicate more consistently and across more platforms with residents. There are many projects that are ongoing priorities, but we focused our discussion on these four items. 

Also, there’s still time to apply for Encinitas boards and commissions. The deadline for non-incumbents is Thursday, January 21, 2021 at 5 p.m. More info and the application are here.

Councilmember Jody Hubbard resigns for health reasons

Many months ago Encinitas City Councilmember Jody Hubbard (seen at right above) and I had a great e-bike outing to Carlsbad and I had the pleasure of trying her snazzy new ride. 

At last night’s City Council meeting, our beloved colleague Councilmember Jody Hubbard announced her immediate resignation due to health issues. It was an emotional event for each of us; Jody has been such an energetic and effective representative for Cardiff residents and the city at large, as well as a trusted and dependable friend to so many.

Due to her current limited stamina from battling lung and brain cancer, Jody needed to resign to concentrate on her health. 

For two years, Jody has worked as a dedicated public servant, after unseating an incumbent in her first election in 2018. In her words of resignation, she mentioned her pride in helping create the protected bike lane on Highway 101, her support for the parking lot available for those who had lost their homes, and her help assisting residents in resolving problems. 

She will be dearly missed by all of us. The process of selecting Jody’s replacement was not discussed last night; I’ll provide more information about that soon.

The pandemic touches us all

On a sad and increasingly prevalent note, our family’s longtime friend and gardener Artemio has died from the complications of coronavirus. He was working just last month, but passed away two days ago after several weeks at Scripps Encinitas hospital. This picture taken at his church is a fitting way to remember Artemio and his wife Reynalda (who has recovered from COVID), a couple who are nearly family members to us.  

In sadness, hope for a better tomorrow, and service,