By Newport Beach Mayor Will O’Neill
Thanksgiving is a holiday that finds thanks in all times – easy and difficult. And we most certainly have lived through difficulties in 2020.
Over and over, though, I have been thankful for our community’s resilience. We have weathered storms and remain standing. In some cases this year, we have weathered literal storms that sent waves surging through our sand berms with resultant flooding on the peninsula.
We all drew in our breath and hunkered down at the beginning of the pandemic when the mystery virus was poorly understood and overwhelming NYC hospitals. Our restaurants shut for all but take-out and the only retail available was Costco or Pavilions – but neither had toilet paper. Haircuts and nail salons were shuttered, while some operated like speakeasys of old.
We now know much more about the effects of COVID and how to intelligently limit our risks while living our lives in an ever-changing world. Our city ran a successful – albeit significantly modified – Newport Beach Junior Lifeguard program this year for nearly a thousand youth. Our schools followed suit by reopening under hybrid plans that have thus far operated without outbreak.
We know that a virus that viciously attacks people with co-morbidities means that we need to live healthier lifestyles in general. We know that mental health waned this year, which can be boosted by exercise, fresh air, and sun. This knowledge helped keep wide-open spaces like beaches, parks, and paths available to our residents.
We know that our susceptible populations – especially our skilled nursing homes – need to remain particularly vigilant, which is why Hoag Hospital and our Newport Beach Fire Department worked with the SNFs on safety protocols.
Speaking of Hoag Hospital, we know that their expertise has saved countless lives this year and that they will be intimately involved in vaccine distribution. We know that we can trust their advice and that we should still go to our doctors for routine or life-saving treatment in the midst of this pandemic. We are also thrilled to have added a new UCI Health facility and City of Hope’s cancer treatment center in the Newport Center area.
We also know which shops, restaurants, and other small businesses in our city that we love. And it’s time to step up for them.
I am begging that you avoid Amazon for your Christmas gifts this year. I am imploring you to eat outdoors or order take-out (and actually pick it up yourself) this winter. Because with the shutdowns imposed in our state, it is on our shoulders to ensure that our favorite places are still open in six months or a year from now.
If you truly want your favorite places to still be open in six months or a year from now, then you need to shop there now. Shop local, support local.
Ultimately, I am thankful for each of you that comprise our resilient Newport Beach. We continue to stand together.
At our core, we are and will continue to be #NewportStrong.