Independence Day approaching, restrictions imposed in Oceanside, San Diego County 

On Tuesday, we learned that California had broken the daily record for new cases of COVID-19, with more than 8,000 new cases reported on Monday. Needless to say, the trajectory has not been looking good for our state recently, such that the Governor has had to impose new restrictions across at least 7 counties.

As a paramedic and public health educator, I remain concerned by the increase in cases in Oceanside and across the state. Here in San Diego County, public health officials have also increased restrictions due to both rising numbers statewide and a failure to flatten the curve in the county. On May 31st, the number of new coronavirus cases in the county was at 73. On June 30th, there were 474 new cases.


In Oceanside, the last 10 days have seen a record number of cases. While increased testing has somewhat contributed to higher COVID-19 numbers, the fact remains that spread percentage is outpacing testing percentage.

Source: City of Oceanside COVID-19 Case Reports.


Despite the requirement to wear masks in public places in our state, and despite the fact that many employees are still working from home and schools are out for the summer, cases have not declined as we might have hoped. The new county restrictions require that bars, breweries, and wineries that do not serve food must close as of July 1st. Restaurants and establishments that do serve food must now close by 10 p.m. each evening instead of at 12 a.m.

Equally troublesome is the fact that an increasing number of new cases are being reported in younger people, with the fastest-growing group being primarily between the ages of 20-29. While it is positive to see that older people, who tend to have higher mortality rates, are listening to public health advice, it is concerning that this level of caution is not being observed in younger people.

While there is still much we do not understand about this novel coronavirus, it is clear that mortality is not and should not be the only concern or the only metric driving our personal and public health decisions. Not only are we seeing cases of people testing positive for the virus months after recovering from it previously, but we are also learning of longer-term and potentially even permanent damage resulting from the virus.

However, there may be some good news on the horizon relative to testing. An Israeli scientist has invented a one minute test for COVID-19 that was found to have a 90 percent accuracy based on a small sample of patients. The test is based on spectroscopy and is currently undergoing validation, but is eligible to be fast-tracked for FDA approval and could be available as soon as September or October. The hope is that businesses such as airlines might be able to offer the test as a safeguard while we continue to wait for a vaccine to become available.

With many school districts across the country still unsure as to how they will be handling the upcoming school year, having such a test available could provide some level of reassurance to parents and students.


4th of July Weekend Restrictions and Fireworks

The city has closed beach parking lots to deter crowds from gathering on the sand. It is unfortunate that many Independence Day celebrations have been cancelled, however, it has been deemed necessary by officials in order to minimize the spread of this pandemic. A few cities do have planned fireworks celebrations which emphasize staying in your car, maintaining physical distancing and even a virtual fireworks show. Click here for more information about planned safer fireworks events in San Diego County.


I will be continuing to monitor the situation with COVID-19 for Oceanside specifically and San Diego county as a whole, so please make sure to add campaign@rubenmajor.com to your contacts to ensure that our emails reach your inbox. We read all replies to these emails, so let me know your thoughts!

A peaceful protest in Oceanside

A beautiful thing happened in Oceanside this afternoon. Peaceful protests to support #JusticeforGeorge felt like a turning of the tide. A completely organic and spontaneous response.

Youth-led.

People from all races and socioeconomic backgrounds. Cars honking in support and drivers with fists raised in solidarity.

But many who have protested police brutality going back decades rightfully ask, “What will be different this time?”

From my perspective, it just FEELS different this time. It’s not just the scale of it–the protests in dozens of cities in every part of the country. This also hasn’t been a response along neat political lines. People from all parties and backgrounds looked at what happened to George Floyd and said NO MORE.

NO MORE digging through the background of the victims of police violence to find blame. No more waiting for more footage, new camera angles, or more context. No more waiting for party leaders to make statements that string words together and say nothing.

Ever since the protests began, the response from many in law enforcement has sent shock waves through this country–between peaceful protesters (including children) sprayed with tear gas and shot with rubber bullets to journalists pepper-sprayed to military-grade equipment being deployed. But it isn’t shocking to black people. It isn’t shocking to Native Americans. And it isn’t shocking to those who have been following the militarization of our police forces for decades. The headline from Slate almost sounded like a piece of satire from The Onion: Police Erupt in Violence Nationwide. It’s not a question of optics now, but one of tactics.


And yet I have hope today.

As difficult as it has been for America to have a reckoning with what our police forces have become, it was long overdue.

Cynics could call it all PR stunts, but I felt flickers of hope watching pictures and videos of officers kneeling, marching with protesters, and voicing their agreement that things have to change. What more could we hope for except that we start to see these things with the same eyes or that there be true accountability for all who run afoul of the law, regardless of their skin color or uniform?

As a paramedic and first-responder, I know firsthand how important it is to have positive relationships with law enforcement. And I also know that without reforms like Community Policing, it is going to be very difficult to restore trust with the general public now in many parts of this country. A 2014 investigation by FiveThirtyEight found that most police don’t live in the cities they serve. Surely, it is much easier to “other” people from outside of your community, to create a mentality that says it is US vs. THEM.

But today, Oceanside PD let our voices be heard, and perhaps we can now turn the conversation to how ALL OF US move forward collectively to keep our cities safe.

A $20 bill?

By now, you’ve seen the footage of the unspeakable murder of George Floyd as police tried to apprehend him over an alleged counterfeit $20 bill.

A $20 bill.

And for that, a man lost his life.

You almost want to say “I can’t watch”…but we must. We cannot stay silent and we cannot put our heads in the sand when it seems that being black in itself is a crime in this country. As a paramedic, I cannot comprehend how long it took for Emergency Medical Services to be called in. Every second counts during a medical incident. But by the time they arrived, first responders said that Floyd had no pulse and was unresponsive. They tried but there was likely little that could have been done. And as they noted, they always need permission from the police to intervene.

The protests that have taken place across the country highlight the fact that in these years after Martin Luther King, civil rights protests, Rodney King, Philando Castile, Eric Garner, and far too many others–little has changed in our law enforcement system for people of color in this country. From Minneapolis to Los Angeles to DC, Americans are expressing their profound hurt, anger, and disappointment over what happened to George Floyd and what happens to people all over the country due to the color of their skin.

Racism is an open wound in America, and more words or tiny band-aids won’t fix it. Institutional racism has to be boldly excised wherever it exists, and we need comprehensive reform to our entire law enforcement system, including things like the use of excessive force, police corruption, search and seizure, civil asset forfeiture, and changes in the drug laws that disproportionately impact so many people of color. Whether it’s Minneapolis, Oceanside, or any city across the country, we need Community Policing and improved relationships between the public and law enforcement–and true reform will not come without accountability for incidents like this.

As George Floyd’s family has said, the arrest of now-fired Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin is “a welcome but overdue step on the road to justice.” Prosecutors insist that investigations are ongoing against the remaining former officers who were involved in the incident, and the family is calling for first-degree murder charges for Chauvin.

Would charges have come had the people not protested? How could this have been prevented? Were there, as has been alleged, police officers who instigated or participated in the destruction of property? What training did the officers involved receive, and are all officers getting the necessary education on de-escalation, anti-bias, and cultural awareness? Why were so many previous incidents involving Chauvin overlooked? These are the tough questions we need to ask as we look back at what has happened and all of the facts emerge.

But we do not need more facts to make a determination as to what happened on video, in broad daylight, in front of other officers and members of the public who were filming and telling officers that they were killing a man.

The family deserves justice and our communities deserve real change, not more lip service. And we can’t keep electing the same people if we want to fix this.

This incident isn’t a city-specific problem–it’s a national one. But we must look at it both locally and nationally as we move forward to try to fix what is so very broken in our society that allows this to keep happening. I’m running for Mayor of Oceanside because I believe that we can make meaningful change right now with leaders who have experience in public safety and the political will to make the tough choices.

As always, I want to hear from you and welcome your thoughts on how we can improve our communities to ensure that it is a safe place for all.

Sometimes memes can say it better than we can

Sometimes memes can say it better than we can.

It is so heated on social media right now. It feels like everyone has taken this pandemic and twisted it for their own purposes. When I take a step back and view things as a first responder and EMT educator, I am so frustrated that a public health issue has become so politicized that wearing a mask–a simple act to try to keep others safe–has become a statement of where you stand on the political spectrum.

Where do I stand? I stand for Common Sense in 2020.

And I believe it is ENTIRELY possible to take a nuanced position on this that factors in the concerns of everyone involved.

No one wants to die from COVID-19 or inadvertently spread it to others. No one wants to see millions of our grandparents, friends, and neighbors suffer from this, or the potential longer-term health issues it might cause.

No one wants to give up so much of our personal freedoms and right to privacy during this that we find ourselves in an authoritarian police state.

No one wants to lose all of our small businesses or the bits of character that make our cities unique, in favor of buying everything through corporate conglomerates that get richer and richer while shutting out the little guys.

No one wants people to starve, or to have to wait months for unemployment.

No one wants thousands of families homeless and living on the streets.

And perhaps no one wants to see the cracks in the pavement and the problems in our society now laid bare, there for all to see. It’s not fun to talk about and it’s definitely a downer at a time when we all need hope.

So I won’t use the buzzwords or pretend that everyone is going to magically agree on everything.

But I just want us all to remember that it IS possible to take a nuanced position on this. It IS possible to find common ground that follows the science and doesn’t lie about what it is telling us. It IS possible to stop interacting as Republicans and Democrats and start interacting as human beings with real fears, valid concerns, and a desire to let “Common Sense” prevail as our choice for 2020.

I’m running for Mayor of Oceanside with the belief that we can find common ground on the things that matter most and keep our city a fun, safe, and unique place for all. I believe that we can find common ground and ways to stay safe, support our local businesses, and ensure that we address the economic hardships we face as a community and a country.

Observing Memorial Day

We observe Memorial Day each year to honor those who have lost their lives in the service of the U.S. Armed Forces. Most Americans observe by attending cookouts, parades, and other events to honor relatives and all who gave their lives in service to our country, but this year is markedly different from years past.

The Major Family (before Safer-At-Home)

All those public events have been canceled, along with most of the home get-togethers that we all associate with this day. It is a stark reminder that our summer—and the rest of our year—is not going to be business as usual.

California has done a good job so far of keeping COVID-19 numbers down compared to other states, but there are real fears that the warmer months combined with people being tired of isolation will impact that, and that more surges and restrictions could be coming. Many people have lost their jobs and small businesses have begun closing. It is not the time for a victory lap or a huge party to undo all of the hard work and sacrifices people have made to keep us safe.

My hope is that all of you are finding healthy ways to cope and staying safe. Whether you’re doing your own household barbecue, ordering curbside from a small business, or on your own just having some relaxation time, I hope that you are practicing safe physical distancing and remembering the great things about our country for which so many fought and died. And to all the essential workers who are keeping things going for us every day, please know that we appreciate you and all that you risk every day while ensuring that people have food to eat and other essential items during these difficult times.

From my family to yours.

North River Farms CANNOT buy their way into our community by paying off unions and politicians…

Last year, in November, I spoke out for our community and against the North River Farms development project. I did it because I was concerned about evacuation routes, fire safety, and people getting hurt. I did it because the project did not meet environmental and housing standards and flew in the face of what our community wants and needs. We don’t need sprawl housing at high prices in extreme fire hazard zones. What we need is safe, affordable housing that provides the proper routes of evacuation and ensures the adequate protection of our environment and serves our community.

Because I spoke against this project, I have garnered the ire of several groups who stand to benefit from it. 

As a Paramedic and Emergency Services professional, I stand in solidarity with EMS, the Fire Department and healthcare workers through COVID, including their right to ask for and receive adequate protective gear. I have a natural kinship with firefighters, having worked alongside, sometimes in the same station, and run many calls with Firefighters over the years. I have also had the professional experience of pulling people, animals, and belongings out of burning buildings, rescuing people from fast moving water and performing search and rescue activities with fire department members. And finally, I’ve had the experience of cutting trapped people out of vehicles and performed life-saving emergency procedures with firefighters on regular occasion.

Today, I had the opportunity to meet with the Oceanside Firefighter’s Association, Local 3736 to discuss fire department operations, emergency services, and our plan forward.

That is why it is with great disappointment that I cannot accept any endorsement that the Firefighter’s Association might offer to our campaign unless they were to publicly remove all of their ties to the North River Farms Development. They must disavow their previous support of the project, return the $30,000 they received from an entity in support of North River Farms, and stop sharing staff and financial accounting firms with ties to the unpopular building development, I cannot in good conscience accept an endorsement.

There is a difference between what union leadership calls for and how its members often feel and vote. I believe the Association leadership has lost focus on the most important goals to the individual, on the ground firefighters. Union bosses have become entangled with the North River Farms Project and in their own words today, they will not change their position because they are “in bed” with the developer. By making, maintaining, and strengthening these ties, they have failed both their own general membership and our community.

But regardless of any endorsement, I want our Oceanside firefighters to know that I will continue to fight for them and honor their best interests. I know that locally, firefighters need better pay because we are losing veteran staff to Orange County and CalFire. We need more response units and stations so that the fire department can maintain an average response time of 5 minutes or less to all emergency calls. Oceanside needs a fire department focused on these goals, not one that works hand-in-hand with a building developer on a monumentally unpopular project.

The union bosses don’t always represent what members truly want. When I talk with firefighters, they tell me they need to know that their pensions are secure, that they will be cared for after retiring, that their families are given the things they need to survive, and that the families of those who have fallen in the line of duty are taken care of to the greatest extent possible. This is also an intimate concern for my family, as my wife’s father was a firefighter killed in the line of duty. Our next Mayor must put the cares and concerns of individual firefighters first, above whatever deals union bosses negotiate behind closed doors.

I ask that you join me in calling on the Oceanside Firefighter’s Association to change their tune and speak out against North River Farms.

Happy Mother’s Day

No doubt this particular Mother’s Day will be remembered for how different it was from years past due to all of the restrictions and shelter-in-place guidance, but I hope that whatever you are doing today, you find a way to celebrate all of the mothers who give life, care for, and nurture all of us as we work to transform our world into a place where all of us can prosper. A week ago was Bereaved Mother’s Day, a time to acknowledge many who feel left out on the traditional Mother’s Day for various reasons, and I want to honor those mothers as well and acknowledge that this day may be difficult for some.

Those of you who know my wife, Jenny, understand that she is heart of our home and a true partner in everything I do, from our business to our family. This pandemic has placed stressors on our lives in ways we never imagined, and I continue to be amazed at how my wife finds the energy to get it all done, making sure our kids are keeping up with virtual school, helping with the campaign, and being a sounding board for myself and everyone around her. Her intellect, understanding, compassion and sense of humor are unmatched, and I feel blessed for every single day we get to spend together as a family. She is an exceptional woman, my closest friend, and the very best mother I could ever have hoped for to our three children. And lately, there has been some extra “mothering” happening in the Major household, as we have been fostering kittens! Talk about an around the clock job!

Today, as we honor all of the mothers and nurturers who helped to make us who we are, I hope that we take a few extra moments to say thank you. Whether you are blessed to be close to the special mothers in your life or are reaching out through FaceTime, Skype, other video apps or phone calls, I hope you are all staying safe and cherishing every moment we have together.

Wishing you and yours a wonderful day!

Reopening our community & local economic support

 

Some good news came yesterday from Governor Newsom, who indicated that some additional businesses can begin opening later this week by meeting certain criteria. More guidance will be issued on Thursday, but the plan is said to allow for bookstores, sporting goods stores, clothing stores, and more to reopen. This is particularly good news for local small businesses, many of whom have felt it unfair that megastores like Walmart were allowed to remain open and sell non-essential items while they were forced to close.

But that said, for many Californians the news comes too late or won’t address the economic hardships they have been facing since the shelter-in-place guidance was put into effect. In fact, a recent Pew study found that 71 percent of jobless Americans did not receive their unemployment benefits in March. Whether the problem is outdated mainframes that cannot support the claims or a shortage of unemployment claims representatives, it is clear that we are being failed by our leaders in government. With report after report of people trying to call and get assistance and being unable to get anyone to help, it is apparent that we’re going to need to do even more on a local level to directly help one another and our local businesses in order to sustain our way of life and move forward.

I would like to see continued rent delays/abatements and the prohibition of utilities and internet shut-offs until people can realistically start to pay their bills. We should not be forced by the government to stay at home, unable to work, AND be obligated to pay a big giant bill at the end of a deferment without assistance. Local small businesses need to be propped up and better supported financially.

Additionally, the internet is providing critical infrastructure both for the purposes of public safety information and for education now that our schools are holding virtual classes, so it is imperative that people continue to have access during this time. As a public health educator, I also know that the internet is providing many people with crucial mental health support and connection during this time.

I’d like to see city-level grant programs, interest-free loan programs for local businesses, and incentives for employing more local people. I understand our city recently began a loan program, but again, this does not go far enough. Many other cities across California offered their local shops grants to help keep them going. Why shouldn’t we do the same? While our local efforts may never match the levels of federal relief programs, we do have an obligation to do our part. In some cases, this might be as simple as employing people to help connect small businesses with more resources or assisting them in adjusting their business models to support the changing economic landscape. Our economic development department could be used as a central hub to help local businesses find innovative ways to navigate this difficult environment. As an entrepreneur myself, I have often had to think outside the box and I believe this will be necessary in order for our local culture to survive.

We know that there may be difficult decisions ahead for our local and state representatives, in particular, when it comes to funding for projects, prioritizing city goals, and ensuring that the most help goes to where it is needed. This is why it is imperative that we elect a Mayor in Oceanside who understands this pandemic from a public health, emergency response, and business perspective. As an EMT, a small business owner, an active member of the community, and the parent of children attending local schools, I am prepared to lead our community forward and I hope very much to have your support in the coming months. My very best to you, your family and your friends. Take care and be safe.

Oceanside Beach Update and Resources

May 1, 2020

Oceanside, CA

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.