A memorial to more than 33,500 people of Los Angeles County who lost their lives to COVID-19 is in the works as a result of a unanimous motion adopted by the Board of Supervisors on Tuesday.

The board asked the recently-formed Department of Arts & Culture to work with the Department of Public Health to come up with choices for a memorial, cost estimates and a timeframe to complete the project.

“It could be a sculpture, or a park with dedicated monuments containing displays honoring people who lost their lives, or it can be a mural,” said First District Supervisor Hilda Solis, during an interview on Tuesday. Solis is the author of the motion.

The arts and culture department led by Director Kristin Sakoda will be involved in gathering community input that could take the form of focus groups, online messages and public surveys.

“It is important for us to hear from community residents,” Solis said. “It will respect people and their wishes. I hope we can get diversified voices and then come up with a plan.”

The motion specifically mentions honoring essential workers, including doctors, nurses, custodial workers, in-home care providers, and those in retail who kept the economy running during the past 2 1/2 years of the pandemic.

A memorial will honor those frontline workers who are still working under stressful conditions to the benefit of county residents. It will also remember those workers, including first-responders, who lost their lives.

“All of them have loved ones who will miss them dearly,” read the motion.

As of Monday, the county’s overall death toll from the pandemic reached 33,565.

The motion also points to the disproportionate effect of the pandemic on Latino and Black residents, who passed away at higher rates than those from other demographic groups. Black and Latino residents made up a large percentage of essential workers who live din multi-family situations and were less able to isolate from others, to stop the spread of the disease.

“Although the county continues to confront the pandemic, there are fortunately more tools available through vaccines, therapeutics, testing, and personal protective equipment to keep residents safe. As a result, many residents are able to live and operate daily with reduced fear and anxiety of serious outcomes,” read the motion.

A report with proposals for the county and the public to discuss, is due back to the Board of Supervisor at the end of March, 2023.

Solis said she wanted to use the arts to not only remember those who died, but to bring healing and make a positive impact on the mental and physical health of all 10 million residents of Los Angeles County and beyond.

“No one will want to forget what happened with COVID,” Solis said. “This was a pandemic that impacted the entire world. This is a way of healing through the arts.”


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