LONG BEACH, Calif. - “This is not a hoax, this is real, it’s affecting people everyday, people die of COVID-19 every single day.”
In an interview with FOX 11’s Elex Michaelson for the statewide political show The Issue Is, Long Beach Mayor Robert Garcia continued to implore Californians, especially those not taking COVID-19 seriously, to undertake safe and sensible social distancing practices.
For Garcia, that message is now more personal than ever.
On July 13, Garcia revealed that his mother and step-father, both of whom had recently tested positive for coronavirus, had since been hospitalized and placed on ventilators.
“We’ve been praying and putting all of our good energy into a full recovery for both of them,” Garcia told Michaelson. “They’re both stable, but we know this a very delicate situation they’re both in and so all of our love is there, it’s very hard not to be at the hospital, but we’re in constant communication with the doctors and the nurses.”
In a statement released via Twitter earlier in the week, Garcia praised the “amazing” doctors and nurses caring for his parents, calling their care “heroic.”
Garcia’s mother, who immigrated to the US from Peru when Garcia was five, has been a healthcare worker for more than 25 years. Garcia stressed that her experience caring for others with the virus has made her extremely careful about the seriousness of COVID-19, yet, that did not stop her from contracting the virus.
“If it can happen to someone like my mom,” the Mayor said, “people need to be careful that it can happen to anybody.”
Garcia and his husband Matt have limited family interaction since the pandemic started, and have, in turn, tested negative for coronavirus.
As Garcia experiences the impact of coronavirus on his own family, he’s also been at the helm of dealing with the response in the city of Long Beach. As of July 15, Long Beach has recorded some 6,252 confirmed cases of the virus, with 149 deaths.
“My attention is split between ensuring that my family receives the best care, but also leading the city,” Garcia said. “We’re going to continue to lead the city and be compassionate and focused… to make sure we continue to let people know how they can get assistance around COVID-19 and ensure that we are being as safe as possible, and making sure our hospitals are not overrun.”
“We’ve got a job to do.”
In a wide-ranging interview on The Issue Is, Garcia also discussed California’s recent rolling back of reopening measures, his experience as Long Beach’s first openly-gay Mayor, and the ongoing debate over kids returning to school in the fall.
Earlier this week, the Long Beach Unified School District announced that students will not return to the classroom before October 5, with classes being online-only starting on September 1.
Garcia, who worked as a teacher before becoming Mayor, said he supports the decision of the LBUSD.
“Teaching, absolutely, is better in person,” he said. “But what we have to look at is what’s in the best interest of public health, the best interest of the students, the parents of those students when they go back home, and the teachers that are in the classroom.”
The Issue Is is California's only statewide political show. Watch FOX 11 Los Angeles Fridays at 10:30PM and Sundays at 9:30AM. For more showtimes and information, go to TheIssueIsShow.com.