L.A. public health director slams Kirk Cameron’s ‘dangerous’ caroling protests
Actor Kirk Cameron and his troupe of Christmas carolers are likely spreading more than holiday cheer this season.
The “Growing Pains” star has come under fire recently for encouraging large groups of people to sing Yuletide tunes — in close proximity and without masks — as a protest against California’s stay-at-home orders amid the COVID-19 pandemic. Cameron has proudly participated in multiple demonstrations, including one held Tuesday in the parking lot of the Oaks mall in Thousand Oaks.
During a Wednesday news conference, Los Angeles County Public Health Director Barbara Ferrer condemned Cameron’s behavior as “very irresponsible and very dangerous.”
“Honestly, we get so many reports of these events, and I’m at a loss of words at this point,” Ferrer told journalists. “I don’t really understand it. ... It’s unnecessary. We’re in the middle of a pandemic. These are just extraordinary times. We all need to help each other live through these times.
“And I’m just going to urge every single person to to do what’s right. And at this point, everyone actually knows what that means … right now it’s very clear what everyone needs to do: You need to wear that face covering, you need to keep your distance, you need to not mingle with people outside of your household. And if you have to go out, it’s for essential work and essential services.”
As medical facilities throughout L.A. County experience an onslaught of COVID-19 patients, officials warn that only the sickest should be sent to the ER.
As the Pfizer vaccine begins to make the rounds among healthcare workers, Ferrer urged the public to comply with stay-at-home guidelines until the vaccine has been widely distributed and activities can safely resume.
“That’s how we get through this,” she said. “Vaccines are here. It will take us months to get everyone vaccinated. We won’t be in the same place next year. And I think all of us need to be able to to act with kindness, care and compassion for those around us — both for those we know and love, and those that other people know and love.”
Despite such pleas from public health officials, Cameron and his maskless musical entourage have continued to assemble in large quantities in defiance of safety protocols. On Thursday, California became the first state to surpass 2 million coronavirus cases, after L.A. County reported its second-highest daily total — 16,974 new infections — a day prior.
“Have you ever watched the eye-opening, heart bursting movie, ‘The Giver’ with Jeff Bridges and Meryl Streep?” Cameron wrote last week on Instagram, referencing the 2014 film adaptation of Lois Lowry’s classic dystopian novel.
“Today’s government leaders’ ‘safety rules’ of ‘no singing,’ ‘wear your mask at all times’ and ‘socially distance’ seem like they’re straight out of a scene from this scary movie about redefining life and reality for the ‘safety of the community’.”
That’s how Cameron captioned a clip of himself defending his caroling antics in a recent Fox News interview, during which he billed the gatherings as “a chance for people to come sing songs of hope” amid “devastation” in his community.
Indoor singing at houses of worship in California is currently “strongly discouraged,” public health officials said, while health experts agree that face coverings and social distancing are key to protecting oneself and others from the respiratory illness. COVID-19 is now the leading cause of death in the United States.
Tuesday night’s caroling happened near a testing facility, according to ABC7 News, which said about 100 people were gathered to sing.
As COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations in Southern California continue to surge, and intensive care units in the state edge toward capacity, several in the entertainment industry and beyond condemned Cameron’s actions as “arrogant and thoughtless.”
Supreme Court told judges in California to take another look at the state’s rules banning most indoor worship services because of the coronavirus.
Early in the pandemic, an indoor choir rehearsal turned out to be a super-spreader event that resulted in dozens of COVID-19 cases and a couple of deaths.
“We do not condone this irresponsible — yet constitutionally protected — peaceful protest event planned,” the Oaks shopping center tweeted. “We share your concern and have notified the Sheriff’s office. As well, we have reached out to the event planner to ask that they do not use The Oaks as their venue.”
Cameron’s former “Growing Pains” costar and onscreen sister Tracey Gold also weighed in with concern for her “dear brother Mike,” addressing the actor by the name of his character from the hit ’80s sitcom.
“As your more intelligent sister I want you to know that I disapprove,” Gold tweeted, along with a heart and a face-mask emoji. “I’m worried about you brother AND your family. Wear a mask. Stay home. Sing later.”
On Wednesday night, Cameron’s actual sister, “Full House” star Candace Cameron Bure, chimed in to assure her followers that she has not been involved in her brother’s caroling campaign and to defend her family’s honor.
“I did not attend any recent caroling events,” she tweeted. “Also, I choose to follow the greater guidelines by wearing a mask and social distance when I’m in public. However, I don’t appreciate the vile tweets about my family. I believe respectful dialogue is the key to being heard. Stay safe.”
See more reactions to Kirk Cameron’s anti-lockdown crusade below.
Malls have continued to welcome holiday shoppers, even as officials have banned other forms of gathering amid a massive surge in coronavirus cases.
Times staff writer Rong-Gong Lin II contributed to this report.
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