COVID-19 Community Response Report, May 18

COVID-19 Community Response Group Meeting Notes May 18, 2020
Attendees (via Zoom):20thCongressional District, State Senate District 17, Cal State Parks, US Forest Service, 5thDistrict Supervisor, Parks Management Company, Ventana Wilderness Alliance, Big Sur Chamber of Commerce, Big Sur Health Center, Esalen Institute, Big Sur Fire, Big Sur CERT, and the Community Association of Big Sur 

Big Sur Health Center:Executive Director Sharen Carey reports:·     There are still no known cases of COVID-19 in the Big Sur planning area.·     Urges that Big Sur residents be wary of fraudulent telephone and internet activity. Fraudsters posing as representatives of insurance companies, especially Medicare and MediCal, are posing as representatives offering free masks, treatments and COVID testing in exchange for some personal information.·     The Health Center is exploring options for providing testing of individuals who are asymptomatic for COVID-19. Has requested that business owners provide her with a rough count of number of employees that may participate in a future testing program.·      Bottom line defense against contracting the virus: Assume it is in Big Sur and take all precautions recommended : wearing facemasks in public, social distancing, frequent handwashing.

Big Sur Fire, Chief Matt Harris:Chief Matt Harris reports:·       California state fire season officially opens today.·       Big Sur Fire is poised to respond to an active fire season.·       CAPS meeting for Spring 2020 is canceled.

Fifth District Supervisor. Yuri Anderson for Supervisor Mary Adams.·       Led general discussion around the evolving metrics for moving from Stage 1 to Stage 2 of the Monterey County SIP Order. ·       Expressed appreciation for CABS and Chamber amplifying Supervisor Adams notifications.·       Based on last Friday’s turn out, the need to continue the Food Distribution at MPC is clear. This Friday, there will be another distribution with enough boxes to serve 500 families. ·       COVID-19 drive thru testing for asymptomatic residents of Monterey County is now available at MPC. No cost. No appointment necessary. ·      Supervisor Adams is currently on 2 ad hoc committees working on guidelines necessary to transition from stage 1 to stage 2 and 3 of Monterey County’s SIP order. In her portfolio are businesses centric to Hospitality and Personal Services. ·      With Memorial weekend approaching, Mary is focusing on additional resources to crack down on illegal roadside camping and providing law enforcement with stronger language and stiffer fines for those breaking the law.

Big Sur Chamber of Commerce,Kirk Gafill reports:·       The Big Sur Business community continues to try to understand what the necessary metrics are for moving from one stage to another in the Local and State SIP Orders.·       Testing is now available for those not exhibiting symptoms of COVID-19 at 3 locations in Monterey County. Most convenient location is at MPC. No cost, no appointment necessary.·       Encouraging the Big Sur Health Center to explore providing testing. (See Sharen’s comments above)·       Both locally and statewide, there is growing momentum to ease restrictions. There are complex and competing local and regional policies creating uncertainty on all levels.·       Local, State and Federal agencies need to anticipate increases in visitation beginning this weekend, ramping up further over Memorial Weekend.·       This increase in visitation necessitates more management by government agencies and further easing of restrictions on Day Use Areas and restroom facilities.·       It seems clear that regardless of the SIP Order or what stage Monterey County is in, visitors are coming and we need to be ready.·       Diana Ballantyne expressed concern regarding the status of opening guidance for campgrounds. Yuri Anderson on behalf of Supervisor Adams offered that the priority focus has been establishing guidelines for opening businesses in the stage 2 category. Campgrounds, along with motels and hotels are envisioned to open in stage 3 of the SIP order.

Community Emergency Response Team, Martha Karstens:·       That the residents SIP survey is ongoing.·       18 CERT members continue training via Zoom video conferencing platform.
USFS, LPNF Monterey District Ranger Tim Short:·      The Forest Order essentially closing the Monterey District of the LPNF expired last Friday and a new Order was issued in its place. The new revised Forest Order opens Eastside hiking and Day Use Areas. Additionally, Coastside Day Use Areas, Pfeiffer Beach, Sand Dollar, Mill Creek and Willow Creek were opened without widespread messaging. ·      These open areas are meant to provide outdoor recreational opportunities for Monterey County residents.·      All developed campgrounds and dispersed camping areas remain closed.·      Forest wide fire restrictions went into effect last week.

Ca. State Parks, Superintendent Brent Marshall:·      The hard closure of campgrounds and Day Use Areas is still in effect.·      Despite the rainy weather, Parks personnel issued over a dozen citations for violation of the SIP order by members of the public trying to access clearly marked closed areas.·      Parks is in the process of evaluating the timing of and exact locations of areas that will open first once a decision to ease restrictions is made.

Parks Management Company,Brian Cushman, CEO:·       Day Use Areas (Pfeiffer Beach, Willow Creek, Sand Dollar and Mill Creek) opened over the weekend. Attendance was approximately half normal capacity.·       Day Use Areas have ample signage outlining proper behavior of visitors.·       Expecting an increase in visitation in the weeks ahead.

Ventana Wilderness Alliance, Mike Splain, ED:·     12 uniformed Volunteer Wilderness Rangers contributed 117 hours on 5 patrols.·     Rangers posted closure & fire restriction signage at 17 trailheads, including Boronda, Kirk Creek, Mill Creek, & both ends of the Prewitt Loop.·     Rangers also posted Do Your Part signage at the Carmel River, (eastern) Pine Ridge, Horse Pasture, Church Creek, & Santa Lucia trailheads, conducted fire ring maintenance & hazard reduction at 5 campsites, & made 19 visitor contacts.·     Among the violations reported were 2 cars at Mill Creek TH, 7 cars at Boronda TH, 27 cars at Salmon Creek TH, 5 cars at Baldwin Ranch Rd·     In several locations closure tape & signage had been removed or vandalized.·     On the eastern side of the District, cabin-owners at the Santa Lucia Summer Home Tract reported a wave of lawless behavior- breaking & entering at the old ranger station & 4 cabins, as well as overflowing trash cans, vandalized gates & bonfires at Santa Lucia Memorial Park campground. 

Esalen Institue. Lacy Shannon:·     Targeting reopening of the campus in mid-June, subject to local and state SIP guidelines.·     Esalen has some procedures to address, modify and refine in terms of dining and lodging prior to opening.

17thState Senate District, Colleen Courtney for Senator Bill Monning:·       Reported that a number of Big Sur constituents are working with Senator Monning’s team to solve issues around applying for and receiving unemployment insurance benefits.
20thCongressional District, Katie Moon on behalf of Congressman Jimmy Panetta. ·       Introduced Jimmy Panetta’s new District Manager Phil Deppert, taking over for Kathleen Lee.·       District team continues to provide assistance where needed focusing on SBA programs, Federal stimulus programs and constituents stuck abroad by C-19.·       Jimmy working on legislation (SOS 2020) which will fund states creating strike teams to address C-19 threats to nursing homes and assisted living spaces.·       Traveled to D.C. to vote in favor of the House Heroes Act.·       An important provision of the Act is early voting and vote by mail, funding for Counties to fight C-19 as well as revisions to the CARES Act PPP rules and guidelines for repayment.

Community Association of Big Sur, Butch Kronlund. ED:·       CABS, working with the Big Sur business HR departments, will be making a second distribution of financial assistance to those most financially vulnerable due to employment disruptions brought on by COVID-19.·       CABS has also identified another area of financial need in the Big Sur community and has opened an application process for those independent contractors who have been unable to secure either PPP or SBA funding. ·       With remote learning the new reality for all school age children, Big Sur children continue to be at a disadvantage at home, trying to keep up with their peers due to a lack of Broad Band internet capacity in Big Sur. Katie and Butch to connect this week to continue working toward a solution.

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