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Opinion

From the Mayor: Encinitas responds to coronavirus with resilience and compassion

“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 the City of Encinitas, as in every community, is palpable right now.

As we experience unpredictable challenges to the social and economic fabric of our lives, it’s difficult to focus on much beyond the next moment. But when panic threatens to engulf you, it’s important to remember that most segments of our society remain intact.

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At the City of Encinitas, we’re doing everything possible to help residents physically and emotionally – and to keep the lights on. 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.

Catherine Blakespear.jpg
Encinitas Mayor Catherine Blakespear
(Courtesy)

This coronavirus pandemic will end, and some elements of our lives may even be better afterward because of the innovations that the crisis drove, the back-to-basics requirements of physical isolation, and the introspection and community solidarity that it brings. We all need each other now.

It helps to reframe our perspective – instead of lamenting a jail-like “quarantine,” you can relish having the personal time you had wished for – long-term reflection and planning, gardening, reading, trying new recipes, meditation, walking outside and getting more sleep. Avoid obsessively consuming social media and alarmist news. Some have expressed to me the mixed emotions of both worry and gratitude for this opportunity to simplify and reset.

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Our Encinitas government makes policy decisions about how to best protect you and provide the core government services that you depend upon. We also have a responsibility to keep our city employees safe and to limit their exposure risks.

I’m proud of the city employees who are working their tails off and I’m proud of the people of Encinitas. Despite the enormous stress and unreal disruptions that we’re going through, I’ve personally experienced many acts of courtesy, selflessness and people acting as part of a kind and humane whole.

As the virus heads toward its peak and more people get sick, please remember that the whole point of “flattening the curve” is to avoid overwhelming the medical system. We want to leave room for truly sick people in the hospital and medical clinics. We all have a part to play here. If you have mild symptoms of a cold and are otherwise healthy, stay home, self-monitor and recuperate. Don’t make an appointment with your doctor and consume medical time and attention that is needed for sicker people.

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 has launched a COVID-19 nurse line at 888-261-8431 that 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. If asked to come in, a provider meets the person in their vehicle, provides them with a mask and performs the testing and evaluation while they stay in the car.

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 canceled. 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.

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There are many people living right on the edge – nearly homeless or already experiencing homelessness – who need us. The Community Resource Center and other social service organizations are helping, and they always need volunteers and donations. But we can each do a lot just 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.


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