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O.C. Health Officer Quits Amid Threats Over Face Covering Order

June 9, 2020 by Juliet Bennett Rylah
Dr. Nichole Quick at a previous briefing.

Orange County Chief Health Officer Dr. Nichole Quick resigned on Monday over backlash and threats made after she ordered O.C. residents to wear face coverings in public. Quick had held her position since last June and will be replaced by Dr. Clayton Chau.

Incidents leading up to Quick’s resignation include banners that depicted Quick as a Nazi and protests outside of her home. At a Board of Supervisors meeting in May, one woman said she was going to bring a group of people to “do calisthenics” on Quick’s doorstep while wearing face coverings, the L.A. Times reports. This action was intended to prove that wearing a mask is unsafe. 

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“When people start dropping like flies, and they will, I am going to ask every first responder in a 30-mile radius to roll lights and sirens to her front door,” the woman said. “And you had best pray they can revive whoever went down because if they can’t…I will be asking the O.C. D.A.’s office to charge it as murder.”

At one point, Quick received a sheriff’s escort for her protection. According to OCSD Spokesperson Carrie Braun, Quick received numerous “threatening statements” both via public comment and online.

Though Quick has not commented on her resignation, Supervisor Doug Chaffee said the backlash was “too much” for Quick, the OC Register reports. “She has three young children and she’s been severely criticized by people who came out demanding her resignation, demonstrations in front of her home. She’s done her best to give her medical opinion and it’s not popular so she has resigned.”

Chaffee also noted that many people have, via email, said they’re in favor of wearing masks, but “they’re afraid to show up [at board meetings] because of the confrontation it will entail.”

Other types of officials are likely used to widespread criticism. But for health officials, who aren’t usually in the public spotlight the way they are now, it’s a lot, especially when language becomes threatening.

Kat DeBurgh, executive director of the Health Officers Association of California, told KTLA, “We certainly have had angry comments at meetings before, especially around vaccines, but this level of threat, of having to have a sheriff’s escort, we haven’t seen it before.”

At a Board of Supervisors meeting held today, 100 people came out to comment against mandatory mask-wearing, while one person spoke in favor.

Meanwhile, in Missouri, the Springfield-Greene County Health Department has announced, now that the incubation period is closed, that two hairstylists infected with COVID-19 did not pass the virus on to any of their clients or coworkers. Both stylists wore masks. 

“This is exciting news about the value of masking to prevent COVID-19,” said Director of Health Clay Goddard via the release. “We are studying more closely the details of these exposures, including what types of face coverings were worn and what other precautions were taken to lead to this encouraging result. We never want an exposure like this to happen, but this situation will greatly expand our understanding of how this novel coronavirus spreads.”

In Los Angeles County, health officials encourage us all to practice physical distancing when possible, wear cloth face coverings when we’re near others, and wash our hands frequently. So does the CDC. Face coverings are not recommended for children under 2 or people with certain health conditions.

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