Orange County’s youth sports practices can resume after being halted for nearly three months because of the novel coronavirus pandemic, although cases are still on the rise in OC. 

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State health officials approved OC’s reopening youth sports, according to a Monday statement from County officials. 

“After many weeks away from their teams and teammates, children across Orange County can once again be able to do what all children should be encouraged to do which is to play, work on their physical, as well as mental, strength and learn valuable life lessons about collaboration and uniting for a common goal,” Supervisor Andrew Do said in the news release. 

Although, there’s still no expected date when games can be held with families watching. 

The youth sports will follow state guidelines, which call for increased sanitizing, the CDC-recommended six-foot  physical distancing from others and virus symptom checks for things like a cough or fever.  

Meanwhile, questions are being raised if the state is allowing businesses too quickly. 

Gov. Gavin Newsom said he isn’t opening the economy too quickly after the virus business shutdowns, which resulted in 5.5 million Californians on unemployment, despite concerns from workers about the health impacts. 

Newsom, responding to press corps questions at a Monday news conference, said the business reopenings will get people back to work and open up access to much-needed health care. 

“There’s a certain point you have to recognized where people can’t be locked away for months and months and months on end,” Newsom said. “To see lives and livelihoods destroyed without considering the health impact of those questions as well.” 

“This is not an economic question, it’s a health question broadly defined,” Newsom said. 

The virus has now killed 221 people out of 8,759 confirmed cases, according to Monday’s updated numbers from the county. There were also 315 people hospitalized, including 144 in intensive care units. Just over 4,100 have recovered and nearly 185,000 tests have been conducted throughout OC, which is home to roughly 3.2 million people. 

State officials have approved reopenings for more OC businesses over the past couple weeks to include movie theaters, bars, wineries, casinos, gyms, hotels and campgrounds. Each sector will have to follow industry-specific state guidelines on how to try to limit the spread of the virus.  

Newsom also repeatedly said local health officers can limit the reopening progress. 

“We put a lot of power in the hands of local health officials and we entrusted them,” Newsom said. “Moreover, in closing, that you have health officers that have the right and responsibility to make those decisions for themselves, working with local elected officials.” 

But health officers, like former Orange County Health Officer Nichole Quick, have resigned from their positions following a wave of pushback over their health orders. 

Quick faced weeks of questions from OC Supervisors when she issued a health order requiring residents wear masks within six feet of other people when they’re in public. 

She issued the order just as state officials approved OC’s reopening plans, which allowed for dine-in restaurants to reopen with limited seating capacity and increased distance between tables. 

Quick abruptly resigned last Monday, following a series of pushback from residents and Supervisors. She also received numerous threats, with Supervisor Michelle Steel calling one a “death threat” at a news conference last month

OC Health Care Agency Director Dr. Clayton Chau, who’s now filling in for Quick as the health officer, walked the mask order back last Thursday. 

It is now a strong recommendation  for OC residents to wear a cloth mask in public. 

Despite easing the mask requirement, Chau repeatedly urged residents to continue wearing masks at the county’s Thursday news conference. 

Quick hasn’t been the only health officer who’s resigned during the pandemic. 

The California Medical Association President, Dr. Peter Bretan, issued a June 5 statement criticizing the blowback health officers across the state have been facing. 

“The California Medical Association is deeply disturbed by the news that some local health officers, many of whom have been working tirelessly over the last three months, have been subject to unfair and uninformed attacks and have become political targets for those seeking to vent their frustrations about what must be done to protect the public at large,” stated Bretan.

“Half a dozen county health leaders are leaving their positions in the coming weeks. All of them have served with distinction and in the interest of public health. We are deeply concerned that politics may be trumping public interest in some of these cases, and that the public’s health may be compromised as a result,” he said.

During his news conference, Newsom repeatedly said people should wear masks.

There has been no statewide order from the Governor or state health officials requiring everyone to wear masks. 

There’s also been increasing questions over Disneyland’s phased reopening plans beginning July 9, with some workers questioning the timing and safety of the decision

Disney said it will limit the number of people in its two Anaheim theme parks and increase sanitation. 

An online petition was anonymously started to halt Disneyland’s reopening plans. Over 35,000 people, and counting, have signed the petition as of Monday

Here’s the latest on the virus numbers across Orange County from county data:

Spencer Custodio is a Voice of OC staff reporter. You can reach him at Follow him on Twitter @SpencerCustodio

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