Beverly Hills loosens restrictions on medical procedures, including plastic surgery, in coronavirus crisis

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LOS ANGELES — Beverly Hills has rolled back its moratorium on elective surgeries during the COVID-19 pandemic, a decision a dissenting city councilman said would “open the floodgates” to not just medically necessary procedures but cosmetic ones as well.

The City Council voted 4 to 1, with Councilman John Mirisch dissenting, last week to follow the state government in easing restrictions on elective surgeries. Gov. Gavin Newsom, bracing for a surge in hospitalizations because of COVID-19, had halted such procedures to ensure that hospitals had the beds and the personnel to treat victims of the virus. Beverly Hills halted all elective surgeries March 17.

Newsom loosened the statewide moratorium April 23, saying people should be able to seek treatment for conditions such as heart disease and cancer that may not immediately amount to a medical emergency but can become one if left untreated.

In a Zoom meeting last week, several members of the Beverly Hills City Council said they, too, wanted to see residents treated for a flagging heart valve, a toothache or an arthritic joint. Rolling back the moratorium on elective procedures would open the door to plastic surgery, they acknowledged, but that wasn’t the purpose of the change.

The “butt and boob thing is the smallest part of the conversation,” said Councilman Dr. Julian Gold, an anesthesiologist. “Really, what we’re talking about is people who need an arthroscopy of their knee.”

But Mirisch, the dissenting vote, pushed back. By declining to prohibit plastic surgery, he told the council, Beverly Hills was sending “a terrible message to the world: That the first thing we do is to allow boob and butt jobs to happen again.”

Cosmetic surgeries are “completely frivolous and unnecessary at this time,” he said, noting that Beverly Hills has a high infection rate in Los Angeles County, with 105 cases of COVID-19 as of last week in a city of roughly 34,000 people.


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