L.A. Letter #2


Los Angeles County—the nation’s most populous county—now holds the unfortunate, horrible distinction of being the global epicenter of the pandemic. As it approaches the one-year anniversary of their first confirmed COVID-19 case, the Los Angeles Times reported, L.A. County has reached over one million confirmed cases, “a massive milestone that means 1 out of every 10 Angelenos has been infected during some point in the pandemic.” Since New Year’s Day, more than 2,300 people have died from the virus.

We have asked some of our contributors living in Los Angeles County for their brief thoughts on what they’ve seen and felt during the months leading to this decimation. We also asked them for the names of organizations who are helping Angelenos during this crisis, which we are listing at the end of each of these dispatches as we run them.

I hear footfalls pounding outside and turn to look out my office window and see a young man in a reflective yellow vest, carrying a sizable box, running down the sidewalk in front of my house. He’s masked and disappears from my view and seconds later I hear him knocking on the front door. Three quick raps. Then he’s sprinting in the opposite direction, at a speed that tells me he’s behind his quota—or wants to get ahead of it—although it’s early morning, the sky is still overcast, the sun has yet to burn off the haze. It’s not even strange anymore—how I distrust the air where another person has been moments ago. Even though he was wearing a mask. One of those powder blue ones. I let the package sit on my porch and return to the poem I’m working on. It’s titled “Not a Bad World, Is It?” and I wish I can say yes. —David Hernandez

I’ve always walked wherever I lived—Venice, Hollywood, Los Feliz, and now Glendale—and during the pandemic, I walk twice as much. Today, I pass couples and families and loners and the teenage girls that walk single file. The younger one trails her sister, forever in some interminable argument, whining and fretting, and one time she collapsed on the crosswalk in dramatic protest. When I see the woman who stops and prays by the oak tree up the hill, I cross the street so as not to disturb her. And then there is the maskless man who reads while he walks, the maskless man, who when he passes, lifts his book to cover his face as if the words will protect him. And me. Today in Los Angeles there are 732,457 confirmed cases of the Coronavirus and more than 9,500 deaths. But then, a bright spot. When I get home, I look out my office window and see the two boys next door, flying Chagall-like through the air—an arm, one head, shins only—on their big new trampoline. They shriek and fall and bounce right back and play a game with byzantine rules that change every second. I will never understand the game, not even if I tried for a hundred years, but their wild joy floats through the air, fills the room, and I take a deep breath. —Mary Otis

Organizations to support:

The Food Bank of Southern California: www.foodbankofsocal.org

Project Angel Food (prepares and delivers healthy meals to feed people impacted by serious illness): www.angelfood.org/

The Los Angeles Regional Food Bank: www.lafoodbank.org

Home Dog LA (help for pet owners—vet visits and dog food): www.homedogla.org/

Los Angeles Mission (provides meals, hot showers, safe shelter, and other life-giving support to unhoused people in need): www.losangelesmission.org

BLMLA: www.blmla.org

Los Angeles LGBT Center Health Services: www.lalgbtcenter.org/health-services/mental-health/intimate-partner-domestic-violence

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