The City of West Hollywood, California, which emerged as an early epicenter of the novel coronavirus outbreak in Los Angeles County, has welcomed the public to take part in a Mother’s Day online drag show to reportedly “honor all mothers across the city and around the world.”
At a recent City Council meeting, Mayor John D’Amico expressed support for Sunday’s event.
“Community members are invited to participate in their homes or outside, while following all Safer at Home orders and keeping themselves and their neighbors healthy and safe,” an announcement from Mayor D’Amico’s office says. “Those who choose to participate can put on a show for themselves, for their friends online, or for their neighborhood while remaining in compliance with all social distancing requirements.”
“While in-person gatherings for Mother’s Day may not be possible amid the Safer at Home orders, this virtual event encourages the community to bring joy and entertainment to each other and especially the mothers in our lives,” the announcement continues.
@WeHoCity Mayor John D’Amico is encouraging the West Hollywood community to participate in a Mother’s Day Online Drag Show in honor of mothers across the City and the world on Sunday, May 10th at 2pm.
— WeHo Chamber (@WeHoChamber) May 7, 2020
The digital celebration is organized by a local drag entertainer who has asked performers to post images online and tag the official social media accounts of City Hall, the chamber of commerce, and the tourism board.
West Hollywood made national headlines almost two years ago when elected officials declared May 23, 2018, “Stormy Daniels Day” in honor of the pornographic actress. Councilman John Duran, who was the mayor at the time, presented Daniels (a.k.a. Stephanie Clifford) with the proclamation in recognition of her leadership in the anti-Trump “resist” movement. A ceremony took place outside of an erotic apparel store named after a drag queen known for directing X-rated movies. Mayor D’Amico, then a councilman, gave Daniels an official key to the city.
A small community surrounded by Los Angeles and Beverly Hills, West Hollywood is a hotspot for COVID-19 infections. A disproportionate number of locals have contracted the virus, including Mayor D’Amico. He believes he caught it from his husband, who had attended a conference in New York City from February 29 to March 8 that has been linked to numerous positive cases. Both men experienced mild symptoms and have fully recovered. D’Amico’s mother recently died from complications related to COVID-19. She resided in Arizona and was 90 years old.
During the beginning stages of the outbreak in greater L.A., West Hollywood was consistently among the cities and neighborhoods with the largest number of confirmed cases. Yet, its growth rate has dropped significantly in recent weeks. The L.A. County Department of Public Health indicates that 142 people living in West Hollywood have tested positive for COVID-19, which translates to 1 out of every 260 residents.
City leaders were criticized on the weekend of March 14 when bars and nightclubs remained open after Governor Gavin Newsom called on them to close in an effort to increase social distancing. Concerned citizens implored the city to shut the bars down, posting images on Twitter of patrons ignoring the state’s recommendations that had been publicized by Newsom earlier that week.
That Monday, official numbers showed West Hollywood had the highest infection rate in the region. Dr. Barbara Ferrer, the director of the county health department who doesn’t have a medical degree, ordered the closure of all bars, gyms, and entertainment centers.
Thanks for your input, Manolo. We hear your concerns.
— City of West Hollywood (@WeHoCity) March 15, 2020
While it is not conclusive why West Hollywood has had so many COVID-19 cases, the mayor has acknowledged that one factor could be the city’s high population density – 36,854 people crammed into just 1.89 square miles. Others have speculated that some residents, many of whom are affluent, have been more likely to visit a doctor for testing, even if their symptoms were not severe.
The publisher of WEHOville, a community news source that has covered the city’s outbreak extensively, wrote: “Another inconvenience that some city officials don’t want to consider is the possible impact of the fact that 33% of our population identifies as gay men.” The outlet noted that multiple gay hookup sites had not taken measures to warn their users of the risk of contracting COVID-19 until the last week of March. WEHOville reported several other operations catering to local sexual subcultures followed suit: “…the website gay men in West Hollywood and elsewhere use to find sexual partners who don’t use condoms, now has blocked the ability of its users to announce that they are hosting sex parties. And Oink Night, the nearby organizer of gay orgies, announced that it was closing its doors.”
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