AGOURA HILLS, CA — In her latest YouTube address, Agoura Hills Mayor Illece Buckley Weber gave suggestions for how to plan for a safe holiday season amidst worsening coronavirus statisticsthroughout the county, state, and nation.
In her first video address since being reelected to the City Council by a comfortable margin, Buckley Weber began by giving a snapshot of the increasingly grim situation. According to the most recent LA County data, Agoura Hills has since March counted 246 cases and six deaths.
Due to poor results in three metrics — the rate of new cases per 100,000, a high test positivity rate, and a high positivity rate in disadvantaged communities — LA County remains in the Tier 1, the most restrictive tier. Though Agoura Hills resembles Ventura County, which is currently in the less restrictive Tier 2, more closely than it does the vastly diverse and densely populated Los Angeles County, Buckley Weber reminded residents that the city must follow LA County guidelines.
"There is no process for the city to get a variance from the county," she said. "I know it appears that the county has a lot more people, which they do, than Agoura Hills, and some people think we're more like Ventura County, which may be true, but regardless, we are in LA County and we are governed by the LA County Department of Public Health."
Buckley Weber then recounted a few tips from LA County Department of Public Health Director Barbara Ferrer on how to prevent holiday gatherings from making what's bound to be a tough winter even worse. They included:
1. "Consider having everyone attending your holiday dinner be tested, and from the time of being tested, they need to quarantine. The test is only as good as the day you are tested, so remember to quarantine immediately after."
2. Talk to your hosts or guests about what exactly their COVID precautions will be. "Spell it out, write it out so there's no confusion - it means something different to everybody," Buckley Weber said.
3. Face coverings should only be removed when eating or drinking. Have extra face coverings at the house just in case.
4. Start the holiday earlier so appetizers can be had outdoors, and consider moving the TV outdoors so guests can watch football games. "The longer people can be outdoors, the better."
5. Consider splurging on a heat lamp.
6. Two people should serve food to limit the number of people touching service utensils. Avoid buffet style meals.
7. Everyone must wash their hands and/or sanitize when entering the home, before they eat, and after they eat.
8. Put cleaning wipes in the bathroom. Everyone should sanitize doorknobs and faucets when they leave the bathroom.
9. Only one to two designated people should put leftovers into containers to avoid too many people touching the service utensils.
10. Guests should get flu shots. Flu shots are available at local pharmacies, doctor's offices, and health clinics.
11. Consider canceling the family dinner or attending a family dinner. "Stay home, be safe, start a different type of holiday tradition," said Buckley Weber. "Our children are looking to us as role models."
12. Patronize local businesses like bakeries, antique markets, flower shops, and more.