LAGUNA WOODS (CBSLA) — Horn-honking, sign-wielding seniors in Laguna Woods do not want a hotel feet from their retirement community to house homeless COVID-19 patients.
“Why would they put this right near where we live,” Fran Garbo, a Laguna Woods Village resident, said. “This is where we live. Right across the street, that is where we shop, the drug store, the grocery store.”
“Gov. [Gavin] Newsom has said take care of the seniors,” Marie Juliganga, another resident, said. “Is this how our county seniors are taking care of the seniors?”
“The average age is 76 here in the village,” one man said. “You’ve got a lot of people at risk. This shouldn’t be happening.”
In a last-minute, closed meeting Friday night, the Laguna Woods City Council met to discuss the lease signed by the county to use the Ayres Hotel to treat COVID-19 patients.
After being barraged by complaints from angry residents, the area’s Orange County Supervisor, Lisa Bartlett, said this was not her decision.
Bartlett said it was not even the Orange County Board of Supervisors decision and that the emergency mandate came directly from the governor to the emergency operations center to immediate shelter infected homeless in motels and hotels across the state.
She said that Ayres Hotel was the only one that met the state’s guidelines and offered to help.
“This is a complete lockdown isolation unit,” she said. “They are not free to come and go. They don’t get visitors. From the time they enter, virtually 100% of the services will be done on site. The healthcare workers that are going to be coming into the city will be following the same protocols that are used in hospitals.”
In an effort to keep nearby seniors safe, Bartlett said health care workers from the hotel will not be able to shop at stores in the area.
There are not yet any patients at the Ayres hotel. The county said this weekend that if and when they start taking in patients, the first ones would arrive between 7-10 days.