Opinion: Our City Leaders Need to Scale Back Some COVID-19 Orders

March 2017 video of West Hollywood Park construction (YouTube, courtesy of the City of West Hollywood)

Just days ago I wrote an article for the website LGBTQ Nation where I talked about the national lockdown measures and how they differ based on the state and city. I spoke of how I recognize the imperative to put public health first, and that’s why I was initially very supportive of the lockdown here in West Hollywood and Los Angeles County. They were, however, meant to be temporary, and we are now two months in, our objective achieved in terms of hospitalizations and hospital capacity etc. without any clear end in sight.

The L.A. County Board of Supervisors said yesterday that we *might* re-open on July 4th, which is a month and a half away. They said though that it might take even longer. This despite the fact that our economy, especially in a city/county like Los Angeles and more particularly West Hollywood, is on the verge of complete decimation. I can’t tell you the amount of stories I’ve heard from people I personally know who’ve lost their jobs or lost their businesses due to this ongoing lockdown. And it’s going to get much, much worse.

I was really disappointed by several of the decisions made by West Hollywood municipal leaders at the City Council meeting this past Monday night. The first being the decision to close West Hollywood Park until September 2021, the rationale being that the park is closed anyway and that the prolonged closure will help expedite completion fo the new recreation center. People are already desperate to get back into the park, and in my view it should already be open. This closure also might mean that L.A. Pride, already cancelled in West Hollywood this year, may not be able to take place in our city next year either.

I was also shocked by the hubris of our City Manager Paul Arevalo announcing that he was taking it upon himself to force, starting this Saturday, May 23, all West Hollywood residents to wear masks anywhere and everywhere, even if you are alone walking down the street or exercising. This is in line with the unscientific, arbitrary similar order that L.A. Mayor Eric Garcetti and the incompetent L.A. County Director of Public Health Barbara Ferrer (who has a doctorate in social welfare by the way, not public health) made last week.

Arevalo says that this order will be “enforced” but still hasn’t decided how the city will do so. There is absolutely zero scientific rationale for this, with even Dr. Fauci of the CDC saying that the odds of contracting coronavirus when outdoors are extremely low. But our city manager took it upon himself to order our residents to do it anyway. As a member and former co-chair of our city’s Lesbian & Gay Advisory Board, I am extremely concerned about the effect these actions have on our people and businesses, who are under the gun as it is. Now the city is putting in place even more punitive, confusing, unjustified measures?

I strongly urge our City Council and City Manager to change course, open our parks, and pressure the county to let our small businesses open as soon as possible. I fear that if we don’t very soon, people will be forced to leave our city and many of our businesses will close forever.

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