Community Voices
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Just when it looked like we were moving in the right direction, our community has suffered some significant setbacks in our fight against COVID. Last week, I added 100 live events to my community calendar. Now, they are rapidly being canceled or postponed. With the rise in community spread of the COVID variants, we are seeing organizers, political leaders, and businesses make difficult decisions.

I remember this time last year. Angel Gowns was busy providing masks for folks because they were in short supply. The San Pedro Chamber of Commerce was busy connecting businesses with the resources, tools, and funds to keep them afloat. Restaurants were providing food to hospital workers and first responders. Folks were debating which jobs were essential and trying to help support those workers who were the hardest hit. We saw many opportunities to come together in a spirit of support, and we shared optimism for a cure, both in the form of a vaccine and in a reliable treatment. We all wanted to get back to normal as quickly as possible while protecting lives.

Somewhere we got distracted. I’ll admit, it was easy for me to decide to get the vaccine. I had healthy friends who were also my age who got severely sick. I was first in line when it was my turn. Getting back to live events, dining in restaurants, and hitting the gym with my 5 a.m. crew felt great. However, I understand why some have been hesitant. There is a lot of noise out there. In my frustration, I’ve been part of that.

As we move into this new phase in the pandemic, it’s encouraging to hear honest conversations between friends about how to best stop community spread and put an end to the effects this disease is having on our daily lives. Each of us has our reasons for either getting vaccinated or not. We can argue about the politics until we’re blue in the face, but it can be frustrating for all parties until we find agreement. 

No matter what side you’re on, can we agree on some of these points?

• Masks suck, and no one wants to wear them any longer than we
have to.

• We all need hugs and regular human contact.

• Kids learn best when they are in school, in person, and surrounded by friends.

• Not shaking hands at business meetings feels weird.

• We exercise harder when we know someone is watching.

• The businesses in San Pedro are worth saving and supporting.

• It’s awkward when we don’t recognize each other from half
a face.

• No one likes shots. Even folks with tattoos don’t like them.

• We’ve all been wrong before about something important, and we sought the advice of an expert to help change our perspective.

• We’ve never missed vacations more than we do right now.

• We could use more balance between working from home and alongside others.

• Live music, performances, and dance are no longer “nice to have.” They are needed.

• Drinks taste better at a bar.

• We’ve seen everything we wanted to see on Netflix.

• We all know someone who has gotten sick, and we wish they hadn’t.

• We’re tired of hearing, “You’re
on mute.”

• There is always more we can do to help each other.

With so many things we agree on, the most important is that San Pedro is known for having a strong sense of community. It’s a community where we look out for each other. The infection rate of the virus — or “community spread” — determines how open our schools, businesses, and events can be, both in capacity and mitigation measures. Vaccination is the most effective way to limit community spread and is the best way to protect our neighbors. If you consult with your doctor and choose not to get vaccinated, limiting your contact with others is how you can avoid helping spread the virus or creating variants. We are all in this together, and as much as I love my “Love San Pedro” mask, the sooner we can get more people vaccinated or stop making it easy for the virus to infect others, the sooner we can all stop wearing them. spt

Lee Williams

Lee Williams leads The Lee Williams Real Estate Group at REAL Broker and is a Los Angeles Harbor Commissioner. He also serves on the board of directors for Boys & Girls Clubs of the LA Harbor, the San Pedro Chamber of Commerce, Harbor Connects, and the San Pedro Education Foundation. He can be reached at