Although the coronavirus wasn’t yet being treated as a national emergency back on March 6, former Rancho Palos Verdes mayor Susan Brooks sent out a warning to the 65 guests planning to attend her 70th birthday party on March 8 at Trump National Golf Club.
She asked invitees feeling under the weather with any flu-like symptoms to “please stay home and rest,” adding, “This is especially important considering our age group. We love you and will miss you, and will celebrate together soon.”
“I told them that in light of the global virus situation, please stay home if you are not feeling well and if you do come, practice social distancing. No kissing. No hugging,” Brooks tells the Easy Reader News.
A week later, she had to inform those who had attended the ’70s-themed disco party in the club’s ballroom that a man who’d been at the celebration had called to say he and his wife had tested positive for COVID-19.
Now, five guests in all—including Brooks herself—have tested positive, while another 11 who have yet to be tested report being ill.
Aside from serving as Rancho Palos Verdes’ mayor, Brooks was also on the city council from 1991 to 1995 and 2011 to 2019 and is still a fixture in local politics, so the news has had a chilling effect on City Hall, which has since undergone a deep cleaning.
Current mayor John Cruikshank tested positive for the coronavirus, causing city manager Ara Mihranian and interim deputy city manager Kit Fox to self-quarantine because they had contact with Cruikshank after the party. Fourth District Supervisor Janice Hahn also put herself into voluntary isolation because she attended the soiree, though she says she has suffered no symptoms.
Hahn, who had told Brooks not to cancel the festivities but suggested writing the initial warning via Evite, wrote in a column for the Easy Reader last week that she was self-isolating because she’s over 65. “I am following the Governor’s orders and it is important that you do, too,” she said.
Brooks called the illness “the worst flu ever” and said she is especially concerned because she has asthma.
“I was on FaceTime with my grandchildren today,” she said. “They were showing me their Legos and stuffed animals and I felt like I was going to faint. I told them, ‘Grandma has to go lie down.’”
Brooks is now referring all questions to her daughter, Meredith Brooks, who remembers that night just two Sundays ago as being in a different world.
“Weddings were going on that weekend,” she said. “Parties were going on that weekend. Life was going on as normal—it was the last normal weekend we had, but it was a normal weekend.”
Hahn also recalls that there was no feeling that evening of a coming storm: “It was, ‘Oh, this is media pollution, you’re overblowing this.’ I remember going home that night feeling a little bit ashamed.”
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