May 1, 2020
As you may know, the Governor was forced to close the beaches in Orange County after footage circulated showing people not following physical distancing guidelines. Today, we saw large protests in Huntington Beach to protest the closure, and yet again there were crowds of people not adhering to physical distancing guidelines. As a Paramedic and Disaster Management professional, I believe it is important to think of the long-term implications of the health, safety, and welfare of our community.
The best thing we can focus on right now is increased testing and contact tracing. But keeping us moving in this direction will require that our healthcare capacity does not reach a breaking point, which can easily occur when large numbers of people collect without properly physically distancing themselves from one another. The right to protest is fundamental and protected/guaranteed by our Constitution. However, if people are going to protest, they should be physically distant from one another and should be wearing masks to protect others from the spread of the virus. We don’t know, as of yet, what the impact will be from these gatherings across the region, as there is a lag time for the virus to show up and for testing, but the footage is very concerning.
Here in Oceanside, we do not currently have a closure–and it is imperative that we all do what is necessary to ensure that it stays that way. We love our beaches, and we all recognize how important they can be to mental health–whether it’s just a walk on the beach, surfing, or swimming. As a healthcare provider, I can tell you that getting exercise is important and critical to ensuring a healthy immune system which is important for both mental and physical health; it is especially important during this pandemic to ensure you stay healthy.
The County Public Health Officer lifted the prohibitions on these ocean activities this past week, with the requirement of maintaining 6’ physical distancing and wearing face masks when you are within that range of another person. We can look at this simply as “treat others as you would wish to be treated” and common-sense measures to keep us all safe. It is imperative that we do what it takes to keep our community in compliance so that we don’t become another negative example for California. The city is reviewing its policy daily, so things could change if we do not follow the rules.
There has been talk about keeping people from other areas from crowding our beaches, especially since we are very close to Orange County. Closing the parking lots is a positive step in the right direction, however, it’s also important for us to make sure that people are actually being physically distant at our beach by ensuring constant reminders and signs from our public safety agency. Our law enforcement must also ensure that we minimize traffic to and from the beach. Now is not the time to vacation, but rather to stay at home and save lives.
Our numbers of confirmed COVID-19 cases continue to increase in San Diego County, but we are doing a great job here in Oceanside. Let’s keep up the good work and remember that this is no time to let our guard down. To view the current cases by city, click here. For San Diego County numbers, click here.
We are all eager to resume our activities and get America working again. So many of you have been doing your best to support small businesses during this time, and that is so incredibly appreciated! Not enough businesses got approved for Paycheck Protection funding or the Economic Injury Disaster Loan with the SBA the first time around, and our hope is that this next round will allow more help for businesses in need. If you’re able to purchase a gift certificate or order online from a small business, it could go a long way to getting them through this challenging time.
That said, I know that many of you are still awaiting stimulus checks, tax refunds, and unemployment. Others may not even be eligible for relief, and that is a continued concern. There are many reports of people waiting weeks and not being able to reach anyone to discuss their situation, and some are on hold due to previous overpayments of which they were not aware. In the days to come, we’ll be sharing more resources with the hope of connecting people to assistance and mutual aid as a community.
If you or someone you know is struggling with mental health issues during this time, the city has made resources available here, including a free of charge crisis line staffed by counselors 24/7.
We may never quite go back to life as we knew it, but we will find our way as a community and a nation with newfound resilience and strength. We can’t always wait for government to act, and the volunteerism, neighbors helping neighbors, and support for one another in these days will not be forgotten.