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‘He’s a strong man. I know he’ll be fine’: Laguna Beach city manager is diagnosed with coronavirus

Laguna Beach City Manager John Pietig, right, and Councilman Peter Blake attend the March 17 City Council meeting while maintaining social distancing in response to the coronavirus.
Laguna Beach City Manager John Pietig, right, and Councilman Peter Blake attend the March 17 City Council meeting while maintaining social distancing in response to the coronavirus.
(File Photo)

Laguna Beach City Manager John Pietig has been diagnosed with the coronavirus, he said Wednesday night.

Pietig told KCBS-TV/2 that he is self-isolating at home.

“I am in good spirits, will continue to work from home and expect to make a full recovery,” Pietig told the station.

Pietig did not immediately respond Thursday to messages seeking further comment.

He participated in Tuesday night’s City Council meeting remotely, as did most council and city staff members, as part of the city’s measures to stop in-person gatherings and stem the spread of the virus.

“First of all, we’re all very sorry to hear that John has contracted the virus, but he’s working full time from home,” Mayor Bob Whalen said Thursday. “I’m on the phone with him several times a day dealing with various issues. So he’s doing a great job for us and is really on top of everything. The good news is that while he’s got the virus, it’s fairly mild and he’s able to work at 100%.”

Councilwoman Toni Iseman said Pietig “is strong and healthy, so we can only assume that he’ll be fine, but it just shows that you never know. We’ve done everything possible to protect the residents and we need to just remind ourselves to be careful. I admire him for stepping out with [his diagnosis] because it’s a powerful reminder to every resident to be careful.”

“Obviously, [the diagnosis] causes great concern,” Mayor Pro Tem Steve Dicterow said. “It’s a very scary thing. It just shows you how anyone can get it, and hopefully it did not spread to other people in City Hall. And, of course, we’re all praying for his quick recovery.”

Councilman Peter Blake said Pietig has “worked nonstop for weeks and has shown exemplary leadership. He and other staff members started working from home a couple of weeks ago to keep themselves and the public healthy. [Pietig] is one of many leaders around the world who has put himself in harm’s way to help the public. He’s a strong man. I know he’ll be fine.”

As of Thursday, Laguna Beach had 28 of Orange County’s 656 cases of the coronavirus, according to the county Health Care Agency. The city’s 12 cases per 10,000 residents lead county cities in that regard.

Lilly Nguyen is a Daily Pilot staff writer. Staff writer Hillary Davis contributed to this report.

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