Today is the anniversary of the World Health Organization’s declaration that the novel coronavirus-caused COVID-19 had officially become a pandemic. Locally, it took a few days before we started to report on the impact of that declaration.
Our first COVID-19-related story came two days later, on March 13, when we reported that a community meeting to discuss the Larchmont Farmers Market, and a children’s playground proposed for a portion of the city parking lot where the Market is located, was changed to “a phone briefing due to the restrictions on large public gatherings in light of the novel coronavirus.” Our reporting focused on the controversial decision not to meet in person and to continue discussion on the contentious matter over the phone. (Hard to believe, but most of us hadn’t even heard of Zoom at that point.)
At the time, Windsor Square resident Gary Gilbert, a chief opponent of the playground project, urged the more than 1,400 people who signed his petition to preserve the farmers market not to call in to the meeting and to instead to e-mail former Councilmember David Ryu’s deputy Rob Fisher to “request the meeting we were promised.”
Looking back a year later, this was our very first “virtual” town hall, though a handful of people, including this reporter, attended in person, spread out across the meeting room at Marlborough School but without masks. Over the past year, the park has been cancelled, the councilmember has been replaced, and the farmers market has been expanded to Wednesdays in an effort to stimulate more business on Larchmont Blvd.
Of course, no one knew at the time where the pandemic was headed, but we started writing about local business closures and event cancellations the same day we published the story about the Farmers Market meeting…and just three days later, the first notices of city-wide closures and restrictions started coming out. By March 19, we were reporting our first local cases of the virus: “…five confirmed cases in West Hollywood, 2 in Culver City, 2 in the Melrose neighborhood, 1 in Koreatown and 1 in West Adams.”
And within just a few weeks, it seemed like everyone and everything was Zooming, including the local case counts:
Over the last year, the COVID-19 pandemic has caused enormous disruption and tragedy in world, and our little corner of Los Angeles has been changed forever, too. We’ve continued to report on the struggles of our local businesses and neighbors…but today we can also report that it looks like Los Angeles County will soon move out of the most restrictive risk tier, and more businesses and schools will be able to re-open. Of course, the pandemic is still very much with us, and vigilance and safety measures are still a must. But for now the spread seems to be slowing, and with vaccines finally here, we can see more signs that we may soon return to meeting in person, and shopping and dining on Larchmont. As always, we will endeavor to keep you informed.