South Gate creates social distancing art program

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By Ashley Orona, Contributing Writer

South Gate — City officials announced an art contest Aug. 6 to raise awareness of social distancing measures designed to help mitigate the spread of COVID-19.

The city’s parks and recreation department is seeking two local artists to create designs that will be featured on vinyl floor stickers to promote social distancing within the city’s facilities. The Artful Distancing program is open to artists across Southern California, but artists based in Southeast Los Angeles will have priority.

Social distancing has become a crucial factor in limiting the spread of COVID-19, said South Gate Cultural Arts Coordinator Marissa Kucheck. The city will place the stickers adorned with the winners’ art as markers of where people should stand in order to keep themselves and others safe, when public spaces reopen again.

Southeast Los Angeles is the epicenter of new COVID-19 cases in Los Angeles County, according to a Los Angeles Times analysis, which found that the region reported more than 27,000 cases over the last two months, the most in the county. Although new COVID-19 cases have decreased over the last month, case counts in South Gate and other Southeast LA cities are still among the highest in the county.

COVID-19 spreads when an infected person coughs, sneezes, or talks, and particles from their nose or mouth come in contact with people nearby. Limiting close face-to-face contact with others is the best way to reduce the spread. 

Social distancing, also known as “physical distancing,” can help. It means keeping a safe space of at least six feet between yourself and another person if they are not from your household, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. It is effective in reducing the spread of COVID-19, especially when combined with other preventative actions such as wearing masks, avoiding touching one’s face and frequent hand washing.

Covid-19 cases increased after the county allowed many businesses to reopen this summer. Inconsistent enforcement of safety rules exacerbated the spread, especially in many workplaces, according to county health officials. This has caused essential workers, many of them Latino, to be disproportionately hit by the coronavirus.

South Gate’s population is 95% Latino, many of whom are also low-wage, front-line workers. Residents are more likely to live in multi-generational, overcrowded households. All of these are risk factors that can accelerate the spread of the virus, according to experts.  

Kucheck hopes this art program will serve as a way to raise awareness of the importance of social distancing as well as an opportunity to employ artists who are struggling due to the pandemic.

“Art is a huge part of our emotional well-being,” said Kucheck. “[We can] figure out creative ways to overcome challenges.”

Artists are required to be at least 18 years old or older to participate. Winners will receive a $150 stipend for their design. Applications close Aug. 24.

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