Santa Ana Mayor Vicente Sarmiento joined Santa Ana Unified School District and City Council members in a news conference Dec. 17, appealing to residents of the Southern California city to avoid participating in holiday festivities and to wear face coverings in public.
Some of the participants attended the news conference in person and some through a Zoom call.
“The reason why we’re here is we want to speak with one voice, with one common message,” Sarmiento said.
“I believe in us, I believe in our community. I know we can do this together, but we need a rallying cry. This is a call to service. We can’t do this alone. We need your help. We’re pleading with you to join us to save our community.”
Santa Ana has the most cases in Orange County, with 22,570 total since the pandemic began. Sarmiento said the city has suffered 330 deaths.
“We’re in the midst of the holiday season, Christmas is right around the corner, New Year’s is right around the corner,” Sarmiento said.
“Those are traditional moments. We want to gather with family and friends. We can’t do that this year. Maybe gather virtually if you can. Just try to find other ways to get together.”
America Bracho, executive director of Latino Health Access, recalled a conversation she had with a friend on the morning of Dec. 17 that revealed the problem with in-person gatherings.
“A friend of mine tells me he couldn’t go to work last week because he got sick around Thanksgiving,” Bracho said.
“I asked him, ‘Were you celebrating?’ He said, ‘No, we attended a funeral of my aunt who died of a non-COVID condition, but we gathered around for her funeral and the people at the funeral got sick.’
“As a result they got sick and another family member died of COVID. This time they attended a funeral virtually.”
Bracho added, “I am very sad that people have to continue dying because they’re gathering, thinking this isn’t going to happen to me. … We’re seeing the result of multiple gatherings—the elections, the games, the parties, Thanksgiving. What is going to happen in Christmas and New Year’s?”
Santa Ana is inviting residents to call 714-805-6517 to get signs and window placards that encourage residents to wear face coverings, stay at home as much as possible, and follow other COVID-19 health guidelines.