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Hotspots
July, 2020 - Issue #190
There's nothing like a natural disaster to make you realize that only Southern Californians know SoCal geography. Do you remember those earthquakes in July of last year? Concerned calls and texts came pouring in from thoughtful friends who didn't quite grasp how far Ridgecrest was from Santa Clarita. The same thing happens anytime there's a fire in LA or a mudslide on the coast (you're kind of close to the beach, aren't you?). Even Santa Clarita is big enough that, for most every event, there's some particular hotspot where the real news is being made.
"The rest of Santa Clarita continues to move forward by cautiously re-opening businesses and letting life resume in increasingly 'normal' ways."

The Virus
As of the beginning of June, The Signal reported 20 coronavirus deaths in the Santa Clarita Valley. According to LA County Public Health, half of those deaths have occurred at two senior centers - four at Oakmont of Santa Clarita and six at Oakmont of Valencia. In Castaic, the North County Correctional Facility and Pitchess Detention Facility have accounted for 891 and 60 confirmed COVID-19 cases, respectively. None of the infections there have proven fatal. Still, that amounts to over half of the coronavirus cases confirmed in the SCV to date.

What do senior living facilities and jails have in common? People living in close quarters. At least that seems the most likely explanation for why so many of the SCV's cases and deaths have been confined to this handful of hotspots. The rest of Santa Clarita continues to move forward by cautiously re-opening businesses and letting life resume in increasingly "normal" ways. Still, summer has arrived without the sporting events, proms and big graduation ceremonies that normally precede it. We know where coronavirus has spread, and we missed out on all those spring events because people didn't want to create new hotspots.

BLM

When George Floyd was killed by a police officer in Minneapolis, many Santa Claritans took to the streets in protest. The stretch of Valencia Boulevard from McBean Parkway to Magic Mountain Parkway became the hotspot for public demonstrations. The weekend after Floyd's death, a crowd of about 300 stood on the corners and marched to the Sheriff's station with posters stating, "Black Lives Matter," "Justice 4 Floyd," "No Justice No Peace" and the like.
Amid LA County's state of emergency declaration and increased looting and violence in parts of LA, there were concerns over a Santa Clarita protest planned for the following Thursday. Many stores boarded up. Rumors raced around social media. The City Council put an emergency curfew in place for one night. Even the National Guard came into town. After all of this very anxious build-up, the protests began with nearly one thousand turning out, but none of the major fears were realized. There were strained moments, such as when a suspicious object was found near a gas station, but no real mayhem or destruction. The City's curfew was even rescinded. More protests and difficult, important conversations lie ahead, but clearly, these can happen peacefully.

Burning to Celebrate

Given the state of the world, a party might be the last thing on your mind. But Independence Day is just around the corner, and the City Council discussed how to give Claritans some opportunity to enjoy it. At a recent meeting, councilmembers worried that people might set off more fireworks at home if there was no public show. That could lead to brush fires - literal hotspots. Using her livestock as a barometer, Councilmember Laurene Weste gravely warned, "This is going to be a very, very dangerous fire season. I knew when my horses started shedding in the middle of February that we were going to have a really hot summer."

Mayor Cameron Smyth suggested a City fireworks show with viewing from cars. Weste asked staff to think about neighborhood decorating competitions. It's all to make up for the fact that there won't be a Fourth of July Parade in the traditional sense this year. The parade is one of the SCV's oldest traditions and my personal favorite. For over 10 years, I've encouraged those who heart SCV to attend, but this year, staying home and enjoying old parade footage with barbecue and a beer may be the best we can do.
This column is intended as satire and a (sometimes successful) attempt at humor. Suggestions and catty comments intended for the author can be e-mailed to iheartscv@insidescv.com.
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