West Hollywood officials reflect on COVID anniversary

Independent Staff Report

WEST HOLLYWOOD — City officials are reflecting on the one-year anniversary of the coronavirus emergency in the city.

The city issued a declaration of emergency March 16, 2020, allowing the city to access emergency resources at the state and federal level to assist with its response. To safeguard health and safety of the community, the city closed in-person services for all public facilities on March 18, 2020 and transitioned to a largely virtually connected work environment to serve community members.

One year later, the city still has locked doors at City Hall, but programs and services largely have been uninterrupted and city business is fully operational with city staff working around-the-clock remotely to support residents, businesses and visitors.

“It’s been a year like no other,” Mayor Lindsey P. Horvath said. “As we look back on the past year of tackling challenges resulting from the COVID-19 pandemic, we must take time to remember those who have suffered and those we’ve lost. I’d like to extend a heartfelt thanks to our first responders and to our frontline and essential workers for their service to our community.

“I also want to recognize our own city staff who immediately transitioned to a mostly work-from-home environment and, with innovation and creativity, have continued to provide the community with excellent service while facing the risk of COVID-19 in their own homes and families. West Hollywood is a resilient community and, together, we will thrive as we create our new normal.”

In the first days of the declared local emergency a year ago, the city activated emergency operations plans to serve the community. At the outset of frequently changing information and brewing public concern, the city needed to quickly reach as many people as possible.

The city’s immediate goals included:

• Directing the public to one central spot for online information in creating www.weho.org/coronavirus.

Distributing printed advisory materials by mail to every household.

• Launching phone-based audio, text and email alerts as information rapidly changed.

• Installing electronic variable message boards at major entry points to the city.

Activating digital ads on bus shelters and electronic billboards throughout the city.

Frequent posting of online social media information, in both conventional posts and video updates.

• And near-daily news releases on often-changing ordinances, health directives and information for businesses and residents.

The city also created a series of “Cover That Face/Maintain Your Space” public service announcements, lamppost banners and community median signage, as well as a community engagement kit, posted at www.weho.org/coverthatface.

To reach the population of 18- to 29-year-olds, the city also launched a social media-based video series of 15-second videos called that encouraged the use of face masks and social distancing for the younger crowd.