Orange County

Orange County Expected to Recommend, Rather Than Require, Face Coverings After Health Officer Resigns

The expected change in policy comes days after Dr. Nichole Quick, who issued the mask mandate last month, abruptly resigned Monday evening following threats and a protest in front of her home as well as push back from two Orange County supervisors.

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Orange County Health Care Agency Director Dr. Clayton Chau, who is also the interim public health officer, is expected on Thursday to issue a new order regarding facial coverings, making it a "strong recommendation" to wear one instead of a mandate during the COVID-19 pandemic.

The expected change in policy comes days after Dr. Nichole Quick, who issued the mask mandate last month, abruptly resigned Monday evening following threats and a protest in front of her home as well as push back from two Orange County supervisors.

Orange County Supervisor Lisa Bartlett said Chau was expected Thursday to alter Quick's order to make mask wearing "strongly recommended" instead of required with the new order to take effect at midnight.

Bartlett said she wants to keep the county's mask ordinance adopted in April to remain in place for grocery stores and other retail businesses.

"I want to keep that in effect not only to protect the public but the workers," Bartlett said. "There are certain businesses where  you can't do the six feet of social distancing."

Bartlett said the mask order will help boost confidence of diners and shoppers.

"I think the public at-large would feel more comfortable knowing that businesses are taking those extra precautions when they can't socially distance," Bartlett said.

Chau on Tuesday defended Quick's mask order, which was issued last month as county officials received permission from the state to reopen some businesses, including dining in restaurants.

Quick said she issued the mask mandate, which is required whenever a resident cannot maintain six feet of social distancing, because she feared an outbreak of cases as more people congregated as stay-at-home orders were relaxed.

Chau was appointed interim public health officer on Tuesday. Chau, who also has a doctorate in clinical psychology, was appointed head of the Health Care Agency in April to succeed Richard Sanchez, who took over as head of CalOptima, the county's insurance program for low-income residents.

Copyright CNS - City News Service
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