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Solana Beach council meetings go remote amid rising COVID-19 cases

SOLANA BEACH — Solana Beach officials have returned to a remote meeting format for the rest of June in response to a handful of COVID-19 cases at City Hall and high levels of virus spread across the region.

Solana Beach City Manager Greg Wade said that during the month of June, City Hall has seen four positive cases among City Hall employees over a 14-day period. There have been six total confirmed cases at City Hall “recently,” although three of them were of individuals who were “exposed and tested positive outside of work and did not return to City Hall until after their required isolation periods ended.”

Guidelines from the Division of Occupational Safety and Health of California, known as Cal/OSHA, defines a location as an outbreak site if there have been three or more confirmed cases over a 14-day period.

Due to these cases, the city has established a mandatory indoor masking policy for all city staff, but City Hall remains open to the public.

“Our current plan is to maintain the indoor mask policy at least through the end of this month. We will continue with virtual Council and Commission meetings through July as well. As always, we continually monitor the course of the pandemic and the spread of COVID-19 regionally, locally and, of course, among City staff and will implement appropriate public safety measures as necessary based on that assessment,” Wade said.

There has been a resurgence of COVID-19 cases nationwide since May, partially due to the circulation of new subvariants of the highly-transmissible omicron variant. Case rate and testing positivity metrics are currently in the “high transmission” category in San Diego County, with Solana Beach seeing a case rate of 24.6 per 100,000 people as of June 16.

The county’s total number of confirmed cases since the start of the pandemic surpassed 800,000 as of early June.

“The omicron and delta variants have caused, and will continue to cause, conditions of imminent peril to the health safety of persons within the city that are likely beyond the control of services, personnel, equipment and facilities of the city and there is a risk of new variants emerging,” a staff report states. “In other words, the local emergency continues and as a result, meeting in person would present imminent risks to the health or safety of attendees.”

The City Council met virtually on June 8 and will do so again on June 22. During that meeting, city staff will present a resolution to resume teleconferencing meetings for the remainder of June and through July 23.

The return to virtual proceedings comes less than two months after Solana Beach revamped in-person City Council meetings on April 13, following a two-year hiatus.

The city of Encinitas also returned to virtual meetings in late May after COVID-19 cases were confirmed at City Hall.