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San Diego's COVID-19 Response and Recovery Committee is adjourned for the last time

As San Diegans adjust to living with COVID-19 so are city officials. Thursday was the final meeting of the San Diego City Council's COVID-19 Response and Recovery Committee.

Since early last year the committee has met about all things pandemic related.

"We did our best to make sure communities of concern were taken care of and were prioritized," said San Diego City Councilmember Raul Campillo. "I think we can look back at this and still say we still have some time to go — we are not past the dangers of what this virus is putting toward us."

Councilmember Marni von Wilpert co-leads the committee. She said they have helped oversee half a billion dollars in federal relief money, some of which was used for rent relief and to pay first responders. Von Wilpert also highlighted the work of city staff who helped deliver vaccines and COVID tests. She said some departments had up to 50% of staff out sick during case surges.

"So for all of our residents that called in and said, 'Why am I not getting the services I need?' Because our workers were hit just as hard by the pandemic as the community was and we overcame that," Von Wilpert said.

Von Wilpert said the committee helped the city navigate through ever changing restrictions and health orders with the goal of bringing the community the best information possible.

"Let us never forget this lesson," said San Diego City Councilmember Jennifer Campbell, who co-chairs the COVID-19 Response and Recovery Committee. "We must work together, we must put politics aside, we must use intelligence and data and we must solve problems before they spread."

Moving forward the city has a new public health coordinator. Officials said they want to be proactive instead of reactive like during early parts of the pandemic.

"The tripledemic is what we are concerned about," said Dr. Jennifer Tuteur, deputy chief medical officer for San Diego County.

Teuter has been briefing the council committee for months. She said Thursday officials are concerned about early increases in flu and RSV cases and are anticipating some type of a winter COVID surge. She said the omicron sub-variant BA.5 remains the dominant strain here, with vaccines and treatments still working well.

"This bivalent booster — what’s called the updated booster — is really something that’s giving us extra protection while we’re in this omicron phase of variants," Tuteur said.

Teuter added daily case counts are low, but that is not including any at-home testing.

The city still has about $150 million dollars in COVID relief money, about two thirds of which will be spent next year.

The COVID-19 Response and Recovery Committee Responsibilities will be transferred to the council’s Economic Development and Intergovernmental Relations Committee.

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