I hope everyone had a restful holiday and got to celebrate the New Year in a safe and festive way, however different that might have been as we finally said goodbye to 2020.
Since my last update we have had 10 new workplace exposures to COVID-19 and 18 employees who reported a positive COVID-19 diagnosis.
I am one of the 18.
That’s right. I now have COVID-19. I started to feel ill late last week and received my diagnosis on Saturday. I am not sure how I got it. I have been consistently careful. I cover my face when I leave home, maintain distance from others outside my household, wash my hands often. I stayed home for the holidays, didn’t gather for New Year’s Eve. I do go to the grocery store. I take my daughter to the park. I have done all of the things I have been asking you to do. But, obviously, at some point. I touched my face or was just unlucky enough to breath in airborne virus particles that can linger for hours after an infected person has been in an area, especially if that person didn’t wear a mask.
I am in isolation at home. I feel well enough to do a little work but am fatigued. Overall, though, I am grateful to be at home, not in the hospital. I also know that one of the quirks of COVID-19 is that patients often become severely ill after a week of only mild symptoms or even after feeling a little better. So, I am closely following my doctor’s advice and paying close attention to symptoms and signs.
I share this with you to make the point that COVID-19 is more widespread in our region than at any time during the pandemic. To quote one of our many health officials, it’s not time to let our guards down, it’s time to double down on precautions. I feel extremely grateful that I was not at any city building while contagious. I can’t imagine if I’d gathered with older relatives over the holidays, not yet knowing I had COVID-19.
Information shared with employees
As a reminder, workplace exposures happen when someone with a confirmed case of COVID-19 has been in a city building while contagious. If this happens in a building where you work, you’ll get a notification via email. If you have been in close contact with the person, you will be contacted directly. Our top priority continues to be your health, safety and peace of mind. If you ever have any concerns about potential exposure to COVID-19 in the workplace, please contact HR at HRbenefits@carlsbadca.gov.
P.S. I am voluntarily sharing my diagnosis. The city does not share any health information that would violate strict health care privacy laws.
Support for employees
The holidays can be a rough time emotionally, even during a “normal” year. Following 10 months of stay-at-home orders and other health restrictions, you and those you love might need extra support. Here is a one-page summary of free resources you can print out and post to your bulletin board at home or pass along to a friend in need.
If you are someone’s supervisor, please take extra care. Here is a link to a good article about how supervisors can help employees through difficult times (although the tips could really be used by colleagues too). Here are some of the ideas:
Be vulnerable: Let your employees know if you are having a hard time processing all the changes or something you have done to take care of yourself.
Model health behaviors: Let your employees know you are making time to work out and practice self-care and encourage them to do the same.
Check in a lot: We all need to work extra hard to stay connected right now. When you ask how someone is doing, really stop to listen.
Overcommunicate: Share updates and information more than you think you need to. If changes are happening, explain why and what is expected. Even if you think everyone knows something, share it anyways just to be sure. When employees feel like they know what’s going on, it alleviates stress and provides comfort.
Employee newsletter returns!
Speaking of communication, one of the themes from last fall’s employee survey was a desire to stay connected and in the know. That’s why our Communication & Engagement Department has decided to bring back the employee newsletter in 2021. This got started a couple of years ago by a volunteer staff committee, but it was taking a little more time than the organizers had to give. With the help of our communications team, we will be able to get it out more frequently and have one central place to send content.
If you have story ideas or would like to get involved in the newsletter, email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Department kudos: Community Development
So much of our energy in the past year has been taken up with COVID-19, it can be easy to forget that much of our normal day to day business is still getting done in the background. For example, the Community Development Department recently completed the draft Housing Element Update, a plan for how the city proposes to meet the need for future housing. If you have spent any time in Carlsbad at all, you know that anything having to do with growth and housing is sure to draw intense public interest.
Working with a City Council appointed advisory committee and incorporating comments from nearly 5,000 individuals – a record for an online city survey – the team collaborated via Zoom, Teams and other online tools. The schedule for the state-mandated plan was ambitious to begin with, so the fact that a draft has been completed and the advisory committee completed its work before then end of 2020 is fantastic. Great teamwork!
Special City Council meeting
You may have seen we have scheduled a special City Council meeting for today at 3 p.m. The City Council will discuss increased enforcement of the public health orders, including administrative citations and fines. You can read about it here, and I’ll be sure to report out any actions the City Council decides to take.
My regular City Manager’s Update will be done shortly, so please take a look at that for the latest on local case numbers and vaccine distribution.
I know everything is not magically going to get better now that 2021 has finally arrived, but we have many reasons to be hopeful as we enter this new year. Our community continues to praise our efforts and feel well-taken care of. That’s thanks to each of you and the level of care and professionalism you bring to everything you do. Thank you, and Happy New Year, Team Carlsbad!