Category Archives: COVID-19
As the death, disease, and financial devastation wrought by COVID-19 begins to recede in some communities, people who live in the San Elijo Hills community are wondering how best to protect their families as San Marcos moves to re-open restaurants and other businesses.
As a resident of San Elijo Hills, and as the Program Supervisor for Vista Community Clinic’s Tobacco Control Program, I have been learning a lot about the interaction between COVID-19 and tobacco and what it means for our families, friends, and neighbors. The combination of smoking/vaping and COVID-19 can be deadly – not just for those who use these products, but for people who may be exposed to secondhand or thirdhand smoke in their homes or in outdoor dining areas.
Residents are fortunate that almost every San Elijo Hills restaurant has voluntarily made its outdoor dining area smoke-free. Unfortunately, many restaurants in other parts of San Marcos still permit smoking outdoors, even during the COVID-19 pandemic. Check our online guide to find other San Marcos restaurants that offer healthy, smoke-free air: http://northcoastalpreventioncoalition.org/programs/tc/sfod/guide/.
Smoke-free outdoor dining helps people smoke less and do less damage to their lungs’ ability to fight off infections. Doctors are warning those who smoke or vape that they are at risk of developing more severe COVID-19 symptoms. (See: https://tobaccofreeca.com/health/covid-19-stop-smoking-and-vaping/?gclid=Cj0KCQjwuJz3BRDTARIsAMg-HxUrfGS2-LwXhn_lcFCw4av7b_4F4MQfvKHwbcCaAHWu4t-8fMIO9JgaAvLJEALw_wcB)
The benefits of smoke-free air where we live, work, and play go beyond those who smoke or vape. It is possible that secondhand smoke exhaled by an infected person can spread COVID-19 to others. Secondhand smoke spreads quickly, is detectable more than 6 feet away, and remains airborne for a long time. The California Tobacco Control Program warns, “When people are smoking or vaping, they are also exhaling particulates from deep within their lungs into the environment around them.” (See: https://tobaccofreeca.com/health/covid-19-and-tobacco-what-you-need-to-know/)
Now, researchers at San Diego State University are warning us about thirdhand smoke and COVID-19, saying that the coronavirus may be spread in indoor environments by “hitching a ride” on particles exhaled during smoking and vaping, and that the particles may linger for days on surfaces and in dust where thirdhand smoke and vapors accumulate. (See: https://thirdhandsmoke.org/dont-let-covid-19-hitch-a-ride/)
Last fall, well before COVID-19 captured our attention, Vista Community Clinic sponsored a series of community forums on secondhand smoke attended by more than 85 San Marcos residents. Many lived in apartments and expressed concern about secondhand smoke drifting into their units. “I am bothered by secondhand smoke in the apartment complex where I live. People are sometimes smoking around my kids, and my kids sometimes are curious to pick up cigarettes with their bare hands,” said Norma Vazquez.
Other participants were concerned about exposure to secondhand smoke in outdoor dining areas. “This hits close to the heart for me because my mum passed away when I was 12 years old because of an asthma attack. I have asthma and my daughter tends to wheeze and has an inhaler,” said San Elijo Hills resident Sharmin Jesuthasan. “While we love sitting outdoors enjoying a meal at a restaurant, we typically don’t go if others are smoking in the outdoor dining area.”
I encourage residents to thank restaurants in San Elijo Hills for their leadership in offering smoke-free outdoor dining to protect our health. For more ideas about what you can do to promote smoke-free air, contact Jennifer.Gill@vcc.org.
COVID-19 certainly surprised us all. As public health mandates were implemented and businesses responded, it became clear that no industry was safe from COVID – even the ones we traditionally think of as “recession proof.” Instead, many organizations had to adapt quickly (very quickly) to ever evolving protocols because, pandemic or no pandemic, people needed them.
Educational institutions in San Marcos did just that.
San Marcos is a hub of education with eight institutions of higher learning, so when COVID-19 impacted campuses mid-semester, our educational leaders had to adjust quickly. California State University San Marcos (CSUSM) and Palomar College, for example, both pivoted to online learning offerings in a just few days, which is no small feat considering the adjustments necessary to evolve experiential classes (laboratories, student teaching, art studios, internships, performances, community engagement, group projects, etc.) to an online setting.
“We were able to transition to distance learning in four days,” said CSUSM President Dr. Ellen Neufeldt. “So much credit needs to go to our faculty and staff for adapting so proficiently. Of course, some classes were easier than others, but I am really proud of how quickly we were able to respond to the realities of COVID-19 and maintain our level of student support.”
Similarly, Palomar College’s acting Superintendent/President Dr. Jack Kahn remarked at how the challenge of transitioning to distance learning provided some collateral benefits that can be applied to future semesters. “We have seen several instances of improved practices, innovations and collaborations across the campus,” said Dr. Kahn. “We have also provided an incredible amount of professional development to faculty and staff over the last months which has also helped us prepare [for future semesters].”
Both institutions strongly emphasized their commitment to fostering continued student success efforts, even with new dynamics resulting from online courses, and they see a potential for online education to reach new students in the future.
“As faculty are learning more and getting excited about opportunities we believe there will be more online options in the schedule in the future,” continued Dr. Kahn. “By increasing these options, we will increase access to education, especially for our students who typically hold down one or more jobs in order to make a living in San Diego County.”
Dr. Neufeldt echoed the value of blending online with in-person pedagogy and noted the need for “innovation for all.” “We stand ready to serve and support our students find a sense of community during COVID,” said Dr. Neufeldt. “Our campus has been committed to serving the needs of our community since the beginning, and the adjustments we’ve made in response to COVID are inspiring us to innovate our way forward.”
As public health restrictions are rolled back, CSUSM and Palomar College are looking forward to striking the appropriate balance between online and in-person learning to the benefit of students and the greater San Marcos community.
“By opening up access to education through our online delivery, many residents will find they are able to attend college while continuing to work in their current fields, raise a family, and continue to meet their obligations while improving their marketability through advancing their education,” said Dr. Kahn.
Cal State San Marcos also appreciates that by exploring new methods for making courses accessible remotely, it can strengthen its ability to provide a multitude of learning modalities that could potentially reach non-traditional students who are not recent high school graduates.
Planning for the fall semester is well underway and both institutions are currently offering robust online summer sessions with full enrollment numbers.
As COVID relief efforts continue and businesses reopen, San Marcos’ higher education leaders offer a reminder that they are here to serve the business community. “We always invite businesses to be our partners, so we can best serve our students and the City of San Marcos,” said Dr. Neufeldt. “We’re here to support our community now and beyond COVID.”
Cities in San Diego County have been granted permission to start slowly reopening businesses, parks and a variety of other services. In response, the City of San Marcos is making the following updates:
- Public counters at City Hall and Public Works will reopen on Monday, June 1. Hours will be Monday-Thursday from 8:30 a.m. – 4:30 p.m. Public health and safety measures will be in place.
- In addition, residents can continue to take advantage of our “Virtual City Hall” by engaging with the City online, and via phone, email and the San Marcos City App. Visit www.san-marcos.net/covid19 to learn more about the wide variety of services that are available online.
Parks & Recreation
- All City parks and parking lots will reopen on Monday, June 1, at 9 a.m.
- Dog parks will also reopen Monday.
- Pickleball and tennis courts will reopen on Wednesday, June 3. The County is allowing play at these courts if used by members of a household or others who can maintain social distance. Please check in with the facility attendant to be assigned a court and follow the rules that are posted at each court. You can view the rules for each court at www.san-marcos.net/courts.
- Athletic fields will open, but no organized sport play or games will be allowed.
- Playgrounds, skate parks, restrooms, splash pads, basketball courts and volleyball courts will remain closed.
- The Corky Smith Gymnasium and the Senior Activity Center (SAC) will remain closed. For information about the senior nutrition program, call (760) 744-5535.
- You may go outside for exercise if you can keep six feet away from people who are not members of your household.
- Park visitors are allowed to sit, lie down, and picnic if they practice social distancing.
- Please avoid groups and crowded outdoor spaces.
Health and Safety Guidelines
- All State and County public health-related measures will remain in effect at all City facilities and parks.
- Please maintain six feet of social distance and wear a face covering when you come within six feet of anyone outside your household.
- You can learn more about all of the guidelines in place at www.coronavirus-sd.com.
As always, the health and safety of the San Marcos community is our top priority. We appreciate your continued efforts to protect yourself and others in our community by making smart, safe choices during this time.
Make the Promise and Download the Toolkit
Safety-First Listing and Home Sale Strategy. Please reach out for a 15-20 minute Zoom meeting in which I will inform you of your home’s value and answer the three most-asked questions I’m getting today:
* How much is my home worth in this market?
* How do you sell homes safely during COVID19?
* How’s the mortgage market right now?
Today’s buyers and sellers need a trusted local resource that can guide them through the complex world of real estate, who you work with matters. With my extensive local San Elijo Hills knowledge and commitment to providing an exceptional real estate experience to my clients, I’m your go-to source for San Elijo Hills and North County real estate insight, advice, and results. I am the publisher of San Elijo Life and enjoy connecting and building our fantastic community.
Please let me know how I can safely be of service if you are looking to buy or sell a home.
Covering North County San Diego from “The Hills to The Coast”
Ed Philbrick: REALTOR®
3295 Business Park Dr. Suite C, Vista, CA 92081
DRE # 01967137
Coastal Premier Properties DRE # 01861547
Stay at Home orders and the recent COVID pandemic have been a source of stress to many members of our community. Our animal companions have provided comfort and relief from some of the stress we all are feeling; however, some pet owners are reporting concerning changes in their pets at this time.
While it might seem that owners being home all day would be a dream for pets, we need to remember that their world has suddenly been turned upside down, resulting in significant stress.
Dogs, as a rule, tend to turn to their owners in times of stress and discomfort. This is often expressed in things we consider “nuisance” behaviors. Dogs may appear more needy by constantly following, nosing, and otherwise “pestering” their owners for attention. In addition, dogs may act out by being more destructive, barking more, or even hiding in the house.
Cats, on the other hand, often become anti-social during times of stress. Feline family members may look for places to hide in the house and may disappear for hours at a time. Additionally, cats may display destructive behaviors such as increased scratching and inappropriate urination behaviors.
While we can’t change the Stay at Home orders, we can do a lot to help our pets’ stress levels. Patience, consistency, and creativity are key.
Be patient with your pets during this time and give them time to adjust to their “new normal.” Lashing out in frustration will only increase their stress.
Be consistent day to day. Create a routine that your pet can depend on. This does not mean that you can’t mix in fun surprises like hikes, walking adventures, and impromptu play sessions, but keep daily necessities like meal times and walks on a predictable routine.
Give your pets space: Make areas in the house where your pet can have “alone time,” and allow them to choose to be there. Make sure these areas are safe, comfortable, and kid-free.
Create entertainment time: Make time to entertain your pet. Exercise and mental stimulation are not only great stress relievers, but they increase the bond between owners and their pet. There are many easy and inexpensive ways to exercise your pet’s body and mind. Here are a few ideas:
Most dogs love physical exercise of one type or the other. Ideas include playing ball in the backyard, simple neighborhood walks, or hikes on our beautiful local trails. When exercising your dog, always take into account their level of conditioning and physical abilities. Also consider current regulations regarding open trails, protective gear, and physical distancing.
Brain games can be as exhausting and stimulating as exercise for many dogs. Try hiding toys and treats around the house for a game of “find it!” Mix up their meal time with maze/puzzle feeders, snuffle mats, and food stuffed Kong toys. Finally, teach your dog some new tricks. Pups both old and young love to learn!
Cats benefit from physical and mental stimulation as well. Keep some of those shipping boxes and make a “box fort” for your feline. Few cats can resist the allure of a brand new box or bag! Cats can also benefit from puzzle toys or maze feeders to make their meal time more interesting. Look for puzzle feeders specially designed for cats (and make sure to keep the boxes for additional kitty play). You may also give your cat a new perspective by installing a new cat tree, wall shelves, hammocks, or window shelves for your cat to explore.
Finally, if your pet seems so distressed that it is manifesting physical symptoms. Contact your veterinarian. Psychological stress can be as hard on pets as it is on people, and there are medical options that can give your furry friend relief!
Advanced Veterinary Care of San Elijo
1691 Melrose Dr. Suite # 110
San Marcos, CA 92078
On May 12, the San Marcos City Council voted to extend the City’s temporary eviction moratorium to June 30, 2020. The moratorium was initially enacted as an urgency measure on March 24, 2020, to protect residential and commercial tenants from the possibility of eviction by reason of financial hardship caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, and imposed a temporary moratorium against such evictions.
The time period within which tenants need to provide written notice to their landlord that they have experienced a substantial decrease in their household or business income, or have experienced substantial out-of-pocket medical expenses, due to COVID-19 has been shortened to 7 days from the previous 30 day notice period, to be consistent with Governor Newsom’s Executive Order N-37-20.
If there has been a substantial decrease in your household or business income caused by layoffs or significantly reduced hours, or if you have incurred substantial out-of-pocket medical expenses, and if the decrease in income and/or the medical expenses were caused by the COVID-19 outbreak, the Council’s action temporarily prohibits your landlord from filing or pursuing an eviction action.
This does not mean that you do not owe the rent to your landlord – it means that the rent will be deferred until after June 30, 2020. If your rental agreement provides for a late payment fee, that fee will still be owed to the landlord if you defer your rent payment.
What should you do if you are in this situation? For those tenants taking action from and after May 12, within 7 days after the date rent is due, NOTIFY YOUR LANDLORD IN WRITING that you have suffered a substantial decrease in your household or your business income (whichever is applicable), and provide your landlord with documents that show your substantial decrease in income is due to the COVID-19 outbreak. Try to negotiate a mutually acceptable repayment period, and retain copies of the notice, your documentation of the COVID-19 cause of your financial circumstances, and all communications with your landlord. If your landlord has initiated or threatened such an action during the moratorium period, and you can show that your inability to pay rent was caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, please go to the City of San Marcos website (www.san-marcos.net) and click on the “Report A Concern” button, or select “Departments” and then “City Attorney,” and email the City Attorney from a link on that page. Your claim will be investigated and, if found to be substantiated, action will be taken against your landlord.
If you receive timely notice from a tenant that they have experienced a substantial decrease in their household or business income caused by layoffs or significantly reduced hours, or if they have incurred substantial out-of-pocket medical expenses, and if the substantial decrease in income and/or the medical expenses were caused by the COVID-19 outbreak, the Council’s action prohibits you from filing or pursuing an eviction action against that tenant until after June 30, 2020.
This does not mean that the rent is not owed to you – it means that the rent will be deferred until after June 30, 2020. If your rental agreement provides for a late payment fee, that fee will still be owed to you if your tenant defers their rent payment.
If your tenant provides you with notice within 7 days of the date their rent is due that they have suffered a substantial decrease in their household or their business income (whichever is applicable), and provide you with documents that show a substantial decrease in income is due to the COVID-19 outbreak, you are PRECLUDED from initiating or pursuing an eviction action against that tenant until after June 30, 2020.
If the City learns that you have initiated such an eviction action and it is substantiated on review, you will be subjected to an enforcement action which will include the imposition of fines and orders. Please avoid this situation and work proactively with your tenants; in these difficult times it is important to work together to come to a mutually acceptable alternative payment schedule. If you have any questions, please go to the City of San Marcos website (www.san-marcos.net) and select “Departments” and then “City Attorney,” and email or call the City Attorney with the information provided on that page.
The coronavirus pandemic is impacting everyone in the San Marcos community, including our local business owners and employees. The City of San Marcos launched a $3 million short-term business loan program to support our local businesses, and we’ve heard from residents who want to know how they can best support San Marcos businesses, too.
Here are three simple ways that you can directly support local businesses while following all current public health orders.
1. Order take-out or delivery
Visit the City’s website for a list of San Marcos restaurants, breweries, wineries and grocery stores that are open. You can also find information about special market hours for senior citizens. See the list here.
2. Grab a gift card
Consider purchasing a gift card at your favorite restaurant, store or hotel to send to a friend or treat yourself at a later date. Many businesses are selling gift cards on their websites, so you can purchase one from the comfort of home.
3. Shop online
Although their physical storefronts may be closed, many businesses are open for online orders. Check the website or social media channels of your favorite business for details.