By T.A. Hendrickson
September brings a new set of reminders of the ways in which Covid-19 continues to dominate our lives. Back-to-school is a misnomer. Labor Day weekend is occurring amid the highest unemployment anyone can remember.
Normalcy is out of reach as the pandemic enters its seventh month, even as new routines take hold around family time, work, play, exercise, mental health, shopping, etc.
Yes, public life continues in Northeast L.A. There are resilient bursts, like the announcement by the organizers of the Highland Park Independent Film Festival that this year’s fest will use the upper parking lot of the Eagle Rock Plaza as a drive-in movie theater. There’s shared sadness, with residents coming together to mourn the death of a homeless man. There’s politics, as Matthew Reagan explains in this story of how a win by the Biden-Harris ticket could shake up electoral politics in NELA. And real estate developers are proceeding with big plans to build in NELA, as Bill Hendrickson explores in stories about a major development in Eagle Rock and another in Highland Park.
Still, the pandemic is both at the forefront and in the background of everything that happens.
As September gets underway, Covid-19 cases, hospitalizations and deaths in L.A. County are declining, raising the question of when businesses, schools and events can safely re-open. The question seems off point. What the improving numbers show is that shutdown conditions work to reduce virus transmission. They don’t show whether testing, tracing and quarantine protocols are robust enough to keep a lid on the virus once reopening starts. The news on those fronts is not encouraging. For example, California recently announced a plan to vastly increase the number and speed of tests – come November; the new system for testing is projected to reach full capacity in March.
In Northeast Los Angeles, 143 people have died from Covid-19 to September 1, including 19 people who died in the month of August, according to the L.A. County Department of Public Health. In all, Eagle Rock has reported 606 cases and 18 deaths since the start of the pandemic; El Sereno has had 1,118 cases and 31 deaths; Elysian Valley has had 241 cases and three deaths; Glassell Park has had 626 cases and 13 deaths; Highland Park has had 1,006 cases cases and 18 deaths; Lincoln Heights has had 982 cases and 46 deaths; and Mount Washington has had 509 cases and 14 deaths.
As of September 1, three locations in Northeast L.A. are on the County’s list of workplaces, food and retail locations and educational settings with current Covid-19 outbreaks affecting at least three people. The locations are the Goodwill Southern California Enrichment Center at 3150 N. San Fernando Road in Glassell Park; the LAPD Northeast Community police station at 3353 N. San Fernando Road in Glassell Park; and Triple Beam Pizza at 5918 N. Figueroa Street in Highland Park.
The County also keeps a list to inform the public of current Covid-19 outbreaks in nursing homes. As of September 1, local facilities on the list included Kei-Ai Los Angeles in Lincoln Heights, Montecito Heights Healthcare & Wellness and York Healthcare & Wellness in Highland Park.
The crucial, underlying messages remain: Stay safe. Wear a mask when you go out. Keep your distance. The only way out is through and the only way through is together.
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T.A. Hendrickson, a native of Eagle Rock, is the editor of the Boulevard Sentinel, and a former member of the Editorial Board of the New York Times. Hendrickson is committed to local news reporting and to finding a way forward for local news outlets in today's challenging media markets.