Two Mayors, Two Takes As Coronavirus Hits Anaheim and Santa Ana Hard – Voice of OC

Orange County’s coronavirus numbers are increasing as businesses reopen and various city and County officials are looking to restart the local economy in an effort to recover millions in lost tax revenue. 

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The increases are hitting Anaheim and Santa Ana particularly hard. While both of OC’s largest cities make up nearly 22 percent of the county’s population, they account for 40 percent of the cases. 

Although the virus is raging through the two cities, there’s been different responses from the two mayors. 

Santa Ana Mayor Miguel Pulido highlighted the rising virus cases. 

“Unfortunately we’re leading the county in a category we don’t want to be leading in … and we’re climbing quickly,” Pulido said in a June 25 video Tweeted by the city. “I’m going to do a lot more in the days to come, not only more messaging — we’re going to have a mask contest. Having people design masks, we’re going to try to raise awareness. We’re going to ask people to make videos about masks and to wear them, why they’re important.”

Anaheim Mayor Harry Sidhu hasn’t talked about the increasing numbers in the city. 

“Anaheim has met the challenge of with an unprecedented shut down of our city, by providing thousands of meals for our seniors and families with loans for smallest businesses to survive. And eviction and rent help for those struggling with the crisis,” Sidhu said in a June 15 Facebook video.  

Instead of rising numbers, Sidhu focused on the city’s economic recovery. 

“Now we enter a new stage. We begin our economic recovery while still fighting coronavirus,” Sidhu said. “The shutdown has impacted so many workers and businesses. You can help by visiting your favorite restaurants and stores and soon theme parks and hotels.” 

While Sidhu hasn’t acknowledged the case spike, Pulido has. 

“We need to keep the curve flat because right now it’s a big, big spike. I’m working hard with the County, trying to get them to bring in contact tracers,” Pulido said in a June 17 video

Sidhu hasn’t said much about the virus the past two weeks and has instead promoted new development plans submitted for Angel Stadium and the Honda Center. 

When Anaheim City Councilman Jose Moreno presented OC Care Agency data showing westside neighborhoods being hit the hardest, Sidhu didn’t ask questions or raise concerns at the Tuesday council meeting. . 

The working-class West Anaheim neighborhoods are home to a large Latino community, which the virus is disproportionately affecting not just in OC, but across the country. 

“We have a high concentration of overcrowded housing conditions,” Moreno said, who lives in West Anaheim. 

“I’m not sure where to go with this conversation because you’re not surprised, shocked or angry,” Moreno told Sidhu. “Mayor Sidhu’s saying we’re doing okay Anaheim … and repeating tonight that false narrative that it’s because we’re a large city with skilled nursing facilities.” 

The data Moreno presented filtered out nursing home cases, he said. 

“Do we have a city public health plan to stop the spread of COVID?” Moreno asked. “I ask that question of you Mr. Mayor, you’ve stayed silent this whole conversation.” 

Sidhu eventually cut Moreno off. 

“I’m going to move on. I’m sorry Councilmember Moreno, you’ve got enough time to discuss this … you can discuss this on your own time,” Sidhu said. “Councilmember Moreno, we are done with you.” 

OC interim health officer, Dr. Clayton Chau, had a virtual meeting with Moreno, Councilwoman Denise Barnes and some community organizations about the zip code data last week. 

Sidhu didn’t participate in the virtual meeting, while Pulido did. 

Meanwhile, the virus has now killed 323 people out of 11,960 confirmed cases, including 17 new deaths reported Friday, according to updated County numbers.

There were also 451 people hospitalized, including 166 in intensive care units as of Friday. 

Roughly 6,800 people have recovered from the virus and nearly 208,000 tests have been conducted throughout OC, which is home to roughly 3.2 million people. 

During the past 14-day period, the County’s case positivity is increasing also, which is how many people test positive out of the total number of tests conducted in that time. 

According to County data, the positivity rate is 8.5 percent and 38 percent of ICU beds are available. 

If the county’s positivity rate goes beyond 8 percent, state officials may shut down businesses. 

The rising cases in OC and the state causes Gov. Gavin Newsom to stop considering Disneyland’s reopening plans, indefinitely delaying the reopening. 

We have delayed those guidelines. Disney, to their credit, recognized that and made it public,” Newsom said at a Friday news conference. “And there is nothing to suggest … based on those trend lines … that we’ll be moving any time soon by pushing further with those protocols and those announcements.” 

Here’s the latest on the virus numbers across Orange County from county data:

Spencer Custodio is a Voice of OC staff reporter. You can reach him at Follow him on Twitter @SpencerCustodio

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