Opinion: West Hollywood’s Fight Against COVID-19 Shows Real Leadership

I have tremendous respect for my friend James Duke Mason.  He’s smart and a dedicated public servant, but his opinion, “Our City Leaders Need to Scale Back Some COVID-19 Orders” misses the mark.

COVID-19 is something we’ve never experienced before. Some leaders in our community compare it to the HIV/AIDS crisis, and we are wise to draw important lessons and strength from the resilience and fortitude our community displayed through the worst days of that epidemic.

Others, particularly in other regions of the country, go so far as to claim COVID-19 is a hoax, or no worse than the common flu.

What we don’t know about COVID-19 far surpasses what we do know. Yet, we already know that COVID-19 is serious, it’s highly contagious, and it is deadly.

As residents of West Hollywood, we also should take great comfort in knowing that we have a mayor (past and present), City Council, city manager and the entire city staff who are doing an exceptional job at keeping our community safe. The hours and efforts put in by our dedicated public servants go far beyond what many of us can imagine.

When the worst days of this crisis are in our rear-view mirror, I’m confident we’ll look back and decide there were steps we didn’t take that we should have, others that we took that we didn’t need to. Yet, in West Hollywood, I suspect we’ll come to realize that our leaders took measured, educated and thoughtful steps that kept our community safe. I believe Paul Arevalo, our city manager, along with the City Council have used the best science available to them to take the most measured approaches to keep our community safe. When we look back at this moment in time, we’ll know we took smart steps with the best information we had at the time.

After Monday night’s City Council meeting, the city implemented a few new measures that have raised the ire of some in the community, as evidenced in Mr. Mason’s WEHOville opinion piece.

The main point of contention appears to be the requirement that all folks must wear masks in public, not just inside of buildings. I don’t like wearing masks, but it has become a reality due to COVID-19. Personally, I enjoyed being crafty and making a few masks at home early on in this crisis – and I like having a few with my own personal touch. I’ve loved seeing some of the wonderfully creative masks our community has created. Leave it to the people of West Hollywood to hear, “Wear a mask” and automatically tack on, “but make it fashion!”

Regardless, I hate wearing them as much as anyone.

Yet, I wear one. Because, during these uncertain times – if all a mask will do is bring my neighbors some peace of mind, then as a courteous and conscientious neighbor, it’s the least I can do. I live on the city’s Eastside, and many of my neighbors are elderly. I can honestly say I’ve seen serious fear in some of their eyes over the past few months – and if my mask brings them comfort, whether it’s effective or not, I’ll wear it.

Our city has listened to community requests and shortened construction hours, found funds to provide cooling options for our seniors, relaxed parking restrictions, provided resources to our small businesses, etc. West Hollywood is doing the best that any community our size could possibly be expected to do.

I don’t agree with everything they’re doing – the idea of closing some community streets to vehicular traffic just seems silly to me. I don’t have any idea how that will help. Yet, this approach has worked in other communities, and West Hollywood isn’t afraid to borrow good ideas from other places. I hope it works here too, despite my own doubts.

At the end of the day, West Hollywood is a leader in every regard, and that is only more evident during the COVID-19 crisis. When this crisis hit, our then-Mayor John D’Amico and his husband were hit with the virus. Frankly, it was a very scary time, and as a community we held them in our thoughts – it was a beautiful thing to witness – the outpouring of love for our mayor and his family. And I was proud that despite his own battle with the disease within his own family, he never failed to show up and lead our community, along with now-Mayor Lindsey Horvath and the rest of the City Council.

West Hollywood leaders won’t always get it all right. But, I think they’re doing a hell of a job with a world that got turned upside down over night. I have full confidence they’re on the side of West Hollywood residents first, and will always fight for us, our local businesses and the many visitors who consider West Hollywood a second home.

Our elected leaders are asking us to wear masks outdoors. It’s the least we can do to keep our community safe. So, I look forward to seeing my West Hollywood neighbors out and about with their best face mask fashion as we enter the beautiful Southern California summer – and I’ll make sure to wave from 6 feet away.

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Larry Block
Larry Block
1 month ago

What a total suck up. Since we do not have our own health department West Hollywood followed the county on everything. Testing was late. No masks for residents. The mailer never went out and when it did the date had expired! There was no clear policy to landlords in multi family buildings and most all the city council and city manager acknowledged at the last council meeting that there was lots to learn from to prepare better. We all learn as we go but as far as being ahead of the curve that did not happen in WeHo.

Rob Bergstein
Rob Bergstein
1 month ago

Well said! Thank you Adam for your clarity of voice & continued service to West Hollywood.

Concerned Citizen
Concerned Citizen
1 month ago

Apparently you don’t know what leadership is. Doctors and scientists agree that outdoor transmission is far from our main issue and masks outdoors are not the solution. Find one source that says otherwise. That’s not leadership. This is security theater. We will look back and be embarrassed. This is not a well-informed decision. If you think it is, edit your article to cite the medical journals that say so (hint: neither CNN nor Fox News counts).

Ryan
Ryan
1 month ago

One point on the mask requirement. West Hollywood is by far not a leader in this area. Beverly Hills put this order in effect on April 10th, the City of Los Angeles put this into effect on May 13th and Santa Monica on May 14th. West Hollywood is lagging behind with their slow action beginning this ordinance on May 23rd. We’re becoming the slowest city in the area to adapt policies to the rapidly changing data on the virus.

jedwards1
jedwards1
1 month ago

Please circulate as widely as possible. It is crucial that every pulmonologist, doctor and nurse, every hospital administrator, every public health official receive this information immediately.“We have zero success for patients who were intubated.”https://evms.edu/media/evms_public/departments/internal_medicine/EVMS_Critical_Care_COVID-19_Protocol.pdf

Alan Strasburg
Alan Strasburg
1 month ago

Well said, Mr. Bass. Sadly, we are at a point where people can now start second-guessing and armchair-quarterbacking every action taken prior to now. Based on the news of the day and ever-evolving science, we can impugn motives and malign decisions of well-intentioned public policy makers. I continue to think that the city as a whole has done a remarkable job and I particularly praise the communications department for keeping various channels complete and up-to-date with solid information. While an annoyance, it causes me zero pain to wear a mask and stand in community as we work through this in… Read more »

Steve Martin
Steve Martin
1 month ago

While Adam makes some great points I don’t see any courageous leadership. Sure we have thrown about half a million to enhance meal deliveries and for rental assistance but so far we are seeing an ad hoc approach to the real crisis, which is economic, with the possible displacement of hundreds of tenants who are not employed. The $300,000 given to provide rental assistance will provide $1,000.00 for 300 people, which hardly seems adequate. If this City Council had real courage they would cancel our Halloween festival and use the 1.7 million thus saved to put money into the pockets… Read more »

Drew
Drew
1 month ago
Reply to  Steve Martin

Beautifully stated, Adam. Thanks for putting into words what I’ve been thinking, feeling, and experiencing. While we may not always agree with every decision made, we can be sure they are thoughtful and considered. We have a dedicated body of council members and one of the most highly respected city managers in the state. Despite the occasional misstep, the City generally gets things right. West Hollywood continues to be a leader in policy and concern for its residents. I’m quite thankful to be living in this City at this particular time for the very reason that I trust the Council… Read more »

Manny
Manny
1 month ago
Reply to  Steve Martin

How about cancelling Metro Rail through West Hollywood also. Those 4 billion dollars could come in handy.

Ham Shipey
Ham Shipey
1 month ago
Reply to  Steve Martin

should cancel all spending….on non-essential events.

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