[Originally published in the OC Register on April 18, 2021]
Anaheim is back.
Disneyland, a place of joy and inspiration for all Californians, is about to reopen after more than a year.
Fans are back in the stands cheering on Mike Trout and Shohei Ohtani at Angel Stadium of Anaheim.
The Anaheim Ducks are closing out their season with fans behind the glass at Honda Center.
And now we have a path forward for reopening the Anaheim Convention Center, host to some of California’s greatest events.
As mayor of one of the hardest hit cities in the coronavirus economic downturn, I’m happy to have hope again.
But the Anaheim comeback is no accident.
We have worked since Day One of the pandemic, alongside Orange County and California, to fight COVID-19 and to restore our economy.
Throughout this crisis, I have strongly advocated for Anaheim, which sometimes meant respectfully challenging the decisions of our state partners.
But I believe we always had the same end goal in mind: Protect our neighborhoods, especially those most impacted, get people safely back to work and beat COVID-19.
We all agree now we’re in a much different place. We’ve made great progress together.
Advancing our city and regional recovery effort is Gov. Gavin Newsom’s plan to move beyond the Blueprint for a Safer Economy and end the color-coded tier system for closures and openings.
This puts us on track to fully reopen our economy on June 15 with some common sense public health measures.
It allows for the continued, safe reopening of businesses and gives visitors confidence to return to Anaheim, as cases continue to go down and vaccines increase.
Anaheim has played a significant role in the effort to vaccinate all Californians, including in hard hit neighborhoods.
At the Anaheim Convention Center and Disneyland Resort, we are vaccinating thousands each day.
So far, 400,000 vaccines and counting have been given in our city.
In our priority ZIP code, 92805, we work with the county of Orange and trusted partners to bring shots to those who may need a little extra help getting vaccinated.
All with the goal of saving lives and moving past this pandemic.
The pandemic’s toll on Anaheim has been tragic.
Sadly, 850 Anaheim families have lost someone to COVID-19, a sobering reminder of the true cost of this virus.
While necessary, the economic impacts of coronavirus restrictions have been devastating to Anaheim’s working families and small businesses.
In 2020, Anaheim peaked at 30,000 residents out of work, surpassing what we saw during the Great Recession.
Thousands of businesses have closed, some for good.
In response, our city has provided more than $65 million in rent assistance, small-business grants and aid to families, seniors and children, in part with funding from our state partners.
But the best assistance we can provide is economic recovery. We join California in forging a path forward to put this crisis behind us for good.
Brighter days are ahead for Anaheim and all of California.
Harry Sidhu is mayor of Anaheim.