Former Pasadena Mayor and City Council member Bill Paparian has been a constant critical voice in the debate over Pasadena’s response to the novel coronavirus.
“I’m disappointed that we’re not seeing a more robust response from Pasadena City Hall,” said Paparian. “It’s always been a day late and a dollar short. It seems though current leadership in Pasadena City Hall is waiting until other agencies, and only then do they implement measures to prevent the spread of COVID-19.”
Paparian, who recently received a life-saving kidney from his wife, Sona, has been calling for more actions from the city since the beginning of the crisis, writing a letter on Feb. 26 to City Manager Steve Mermell calling for drastic measures, such as declaring a local state of emergency and providing masks to residents. While at the time Paparian described the measures as ambitious, seeing people wearing surgical and even homemade masks in public seems to be the norm.
Paparian voiced his opinion about Pasadena requiring all citizens to wear masks or face coverings when going outside two weeks prior to the city requiring facial covering.
Following the recommendation by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the order by Pasadena Health Officer Dr. Ying-Ying Goh was issued on April 11, to be implemented on April 15.
Among other social distancing and hygienic rules, the order calls for all residents to wear masks when conducting essential business, such as buying groceries and picking up prescriptions. Violations of the order is a misdemeanor punishable by imprisonment, fine or both.
“This order by no means replaces the need for physical distancing and everyday hygiene precautions, such as frequent hand washing,” said Dr. Goh. “When you do need to venture out for groceries or other essentials, wearing a face covering can help reduce community spread of COVID-19, especially by those who are asymptomatic and don’t even know they have the virus.”
Other counties and cities have enacted similar orders such as the city of Los Angeles, whose order outlines the same rules for their residents and was implemented on Friday, April 10.
There are even more serious measures such as in Riverside County, where residents will be fined $1,000 for not wearing a face covering. And in Beverly Hills, the city has made it mandatory for everyone leaving their home to wear a mask, even for walks around the block.
“While more and more Riverside County residents are getting COVID-19, not everybody’s getting the message, Riverside County Public Health Officer Dr. Cameron Kaiser said in a statement made April 4. “It started with staying home, social distance and covering your face. But now we change from saying that you should to saying that you must.”
These measures come at a time when the US recorded over 550,000 cases and almost 22,000 deaths as of April 13, according to the CDC. Also on Monday, California had the sixth most cases in the country with 21,794, with 651 deaths, according to the California Department of Public Health. Many experts believe that the state will be reaching a peak in cases this week.
Paparian has kept his eye on the orders implemented by other jurisdictions because of his immunocompromised state due to a life-saving kidney transplant from his wife on Aug.6.
“It’s very personal for me. All of this is very personal for me,” said Paparian. “I’m a kidney transplant recipient and my immune system is medically suppressed so that I can accept the transplanted kidney. I’m at the highest risk for the virus.”
Paparian is part of the most at-risk population because of his age and his immunocompromised state. The criminal lawyer has to stay vigilant since he still goes into court to represent his clients.
“I strictly follow all of the CDC and other health agencies’ guidelines,” he said. “When I have to go to court on a criminal case, I wear gloves and a mask.”
While concerned for his own well-being, Paparian still worries about the well-being of his neighbors and other Pasadeneans after serving for 12 years on the council.
“I’m concerned for the well being of my family and my friends, for my neighbors and for my city,” said Paparian. “You can’t give 12 of the best years of your life to a city and not feel a continuing sense of responsibility and involvement in the community.”