The coronavirus pandemic has forced many events to transition from in-person to online, and town halls with government leaders are no exception.
On April 2, West Hollywood Mayor Pro Tempore Lindsey Horvath joined Dillon Hosier, chief advocacy officer of the Israeli-American Civic Action Network, and Rabbi Denise Eger of Congregation Kol Ami for the COVID-19 West Hollywood Update virtual town hall.
Horvath, Hosier and Eger discussed a variety of topics ranging from the effect Mayor John D’Amico’s fight against COVID-19 had on the city to the need for volunteers and how people should celebrate Passover and Easter this year.
The community was shocked that the mayor and his husband were sick last month, Horvath said, and D’Amico’s illness made clear the danger posed to everyone by the coronavirus. She also noted that D’Amico is “doing very well,” and he and his husband, Keith Rand, are “on the other side” of their illnesses.
“There was a time that folks were saying if you’re on HIV medication, you’re not going to get it. Nobody’s immune, and that news was very startling, that somebody so beloved and so well-known had it … It made us all aware that you can be in good health, you can be physically fit [and still get sick]. We really encourage folks to stay home, stay safe, practice social distancing,” Horvath said.
With Passover beginning on April 8 and lasting until April 16, and Easter being celebrated on April 12, Horvath, Hosier and Eger also talked about ways people could practice social distancing and other safety precautions while still celebrating the holidays with loved ones.
“This year, it’s going to be different for these holy days and holidays. We do need to take seriously this mandate to be ‘Safer at Home,’” Eger said.
Eger said that Congregation Kol Ami will be hosting a virtual Seder online tonight, April 9, at 6 p.m., and for those who celebrate Easter, egg hunts could also be held virtually.
“We can’t gather and put different households together for these Holy Week and Passover celebrations … You’re doing your civic duty by staying at home,” Eger said.
Eger said the synagogue will also hold an online service for Pride, as this year’s LA Pride in West Hollywood was delayed, the festival and parade’s organizer, Christopher Street West, announced last month.
Horvath said no one should hold sizable gatherings, which would allow the virus to spread quickly and more easily. However, people are optimistic about holding such events in the future.
“Large events and planning and production are not anywhere near the top of the list of what we’re dealing with right now,” Horvath said. “I know those conversations will be approached cautiously and in the future.”
Eger noted that the delay of Pride, a time of celebration for the LGBT community, might be especially harmful for a group of people who already may be struggling with the ongoing pandemic’s similarities to the AIDS crisis.
“We must take care of our own today and going forward, and we will do it. We will find the time when we dance together again and gather. That will happen. It will take a while, but we’re going to do it together,” Eger said.
In the meantime, the participants encouraged volunteers to help the vulnerable in the West Hollywood community. Horvath suggested anyone who is interested should visit serve.ca.gov.
“Nothing is more important than knowing that somebody is there, and we do care as a city. We want you to be safe and we want you to be healthy,” Horvath said.
Horvath also encouraged West Hollywood residents to practice self-care, turn off the news if they feel overwhelmed and keep in mind the well-being of health care workers, grocery store employees and others who are on the front lines of protecting public health.
“Our commitment to caring for one another is why I wanted to live in this community … I’ve seen that happening in big ways and small ways already, and that will continue to carry us,” Horvath said.
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