COVID Community Meeting Notes

COVID-19 Community Response Group Meeting Notes

July 15, 2020

Attendees (via Zoom):

20th Congressional District, State Senate District 17, 30th Assembly District, Cal State Parks, US Forest Service, 5th District 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 Chamber of Commerce reports:

  • Kirk Gafill notes, Ca. has resumed restrictions on indoor business activities, affecting Big Sur as well, with no clear guidance as to the duration of restrictions. (no sunset) 
  • This has hit the local Hospitality industry hard resulting in reduced income to employees. The Summer season contains key months for local Hospitality, with 40% plus of yearly revenue and 60% plus of profit for the year during that period. 
  • Diana Ballantyne observed that it has been 4 years (2016) since there has been an uninterrupted year of business activity.

Big Sur Health Center:

Executive Director Sharen Carey reports for the Big Sur Health Center:

Executive Director Sharen Carey reports for the Big Sur Health Center:

  • 6 individuals who work in Big Sur have tested positive for COVID-19.
  • Of the 6, no hospitalizations. All are in self quarantine, at home.
  • 218 people tested, 27 of which were symptomatic.
  • Test results are unreliable.  A person can test negative and actually be infected.  An infected person can remain positive for weeks (after recovery) and yet no longer be contagious.
  • Test result turn-around times currently vary widely, from 3 to 10 days, due to increased numbers of individuals getting tested and labs being overwhelmed.
  • Recent findings indicate the virus is communicable via airborne droplets from normal breathing remaining in the air, not just through coughing or sneezing. Mask wearing is critical in stopping the spread of COVID-19 both inside and outside.
  • Recent data is also showing that those who have had the virus and have recovered, may not have long lasting immunity from contracting illness a second time.  Patients who recover may develop antibodies that disappear after a few weeks.

**New post-meeting information:  We learned at a 5:00 zoom meeting with Monterey County that all testing sites, including Big Sur Health Center, will be asked to follow new state guidelines and prioritize persons for testing due to the current high impacts on laboratories.  Close contacts of positive persons are of high priority.  In order to help us prioritize appointments, we are asking: If an employer has requested an employee to be tested please have your HR department FIRST notify BSHC with the name and why (ie contact or employment need, etc).

USFS, LPNF Monterey District, Tom Murphey sitting in for Ranger Tim Short:

  • There is 1 confirmed C-19 case on the Monterey District of the LPNF. This individual was in close enough proximity to potentially expose 28 other personnel.  All are now in self quarantine.
  • Sarah offered that there may be County help to support temporary housing for those in quarantine. (Motel stay)
  • District Office in King City is under lock down for 7 days.
  • Goleta Fire personnel will be providing back up cover.

Fifth District Supervisor. Sarah Hardgrave for Supervisor Mary Adams reports.

  • Sarah shared her screen with meeting attendees, highlighting the County website:

(COVID-19 | Monterey County, CA) displaying data that is driving the State and County response to the pandemic.

  • These charts reveal that Monterey County is exceeding the allowable incidence of positive cases per 100k of residents as well as positive cases in skilled nursing homes.
  • On the bright side, supplies of PPE, hospital capacity and ability to contact trace are all good.

Ca. State Parks, Monterey District, Big Sur Sector Superintendent Marcos Ortega:

  • Campground and all Day Use Areas are open, with Parks much busier on the weekends.
  • Lodge is also open and business is good there as well.
  • Marcos, Nate Koontz (PMC) and Butch Kronlund (CABS) to meet next week to discuss contingency planning for unexpected mandates to open or close Parks and the Forest.

Parks Management Company, Nathan Koontz reports:

  • All properties PMC manages on the Monterey District not as busy as expected.

Big Sur Fire, Chief Matt Harris reports:

  • Last weekend was very busy for BSF. 
  • 2 more cliff rescues but thankfully no wildfires.
  • BSF was only able to provide one patrol on Saturday afternoon/evening and encountered 1 campfire that crews extinguished and made numerous contacts with campers.
  • 2 more weeks left of fire academy training.

Community Emergency Response Team, Martha Karstens:.

  • Unable to attend. 

Ventana Wilderness Alliance, Mike Splain, ED: 

  • 7 VWA Trail Crew & Ranger volunteers contributed 98 hours on 2 coast-side trail patrols. Volunteers conducted brushing & tread-work, contacted 42 visitors, packed out 25 pounds of trash, dismantled 4 user-created fire rings, replenished “no campfire” signage, & installed a backcountry toilet at Estrella Camp.
  • The Scantron machine (to be used for tallying self-registration Wilderness Permit data) arrived at the Big Sur MAF today (7/15/20). The permit form is finalized & 100,000 copies have been ordered.

Esalen Institute. Lacy Shannon:

  • Unable to attend.

17th State Senate District, Colleen Courtney for Senator Bill Monning reports:

  • Unable to attend.

20th Congressional District, Katie Moon and Phil Deppert on behalf of Congressman Jimmy Panetta.

  • Phil, Katie and Butch to install a display of the proposed wind farm off the coast of Big Sur at the MAF next week.
  • Federal PPP to end August 8th and $600 Federal supplement to State UI ends July 31st.
  • Congressional office available to help with SBA loans.
  • International students may now stay in the US to take online courses until schools reopen.
  • Panetta is working to reverse benefit cuts to the Cal Fresh program.

Monterey County Sheriff Department, Deputy Villasenor:

  • Unable to call in.

Community Association of Big Sur, Butch Kronlund. ED:

  • Efforts to gather data on impacts of illegal activities (Roadside camping, illegal campfires) continue.
  • Illegal camping along Highway 1 from Mal Paso Bridge to the SLO County line, over Friday and Saturday night, shows a total of 212 car, truck, trailer, van and RV campers.  .
  • These numbers reflect a consistent disregard for the County ordinance against this activity.