Orange County remains battleground against California's coronavirus mask orders

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As coronavirus cases continue to rise in California, Orange County remains defiant against the state’s orders to wear a mask, raising questions as to how far officials are willing to go to enforce the measure.

Throughout the county, businesses have slowly begun to reopen after months of lockdown. But patrons remain divided between those who comply with the mask order and those who do not.

Despite county health officials’ warnings that wearing a mask is an effective means against infection, many remain openly defiant, the Los Angeles Times reported.

A movie theater is seen closed due to the coronavirus pandemic Thursday, July 2, 2020, in Brea, Calif. 

In some cases, the defiance has turned to threats. In early June, Orange County’s chief health adviser, Dr. Nichole Quick, who issued a mask mandate for the county, resigned after weeks of verbal attacks and death threats.

Quick’s successor rescinded the mandate, instead “strongly recommending” that Orange County residents wear protective masks while out in public.

A week later, Gov. Gavin Newsom issued a statewide order mandating that all Californians wear facemasks in public as the state continued to experience an increase in coronavirus-related hospitalizations.

Coronavirus cases in Orange County have surged in recent weeks. On Monday, the county for the first time reported more than 1,000 new coronavirus cases in a single day, according to figures from the Orange County Health Care Agency.

Figures from Johns Hopkins University show a cumulative total of 18,892 cases of the coronavirus in Orange County, with some 369 deaths as of Wednesday.

“With cases of COVID-19 in California increasing over the last six weeks, I ask the residents and visitors of Orange County to please wear a face covering when you are in a public place and unable to properly social distance, as well as following hygiene and social distancing guidance,” she said in a statement this week. “This is of the utmost importance to protect your health and the health of others, so that we can return back to normal as quickly as possible.”

Fox News’ Danielle Wallace and Andrew O’Reilly contributed to this report.

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