Coronavirus: OC officials expect to start easing COVID-19 restrictions in May

Officials in Orange County are cautiously optimistic about the possibility of beginning to lift coronavirus-related restrictions in May.
Officials in Orange County are cautiously optimistic about the possibility of beginning to lift coronavirus-related restrictions in May.

Orange County public health officials continue to report good news about the stabilization of COVID-19 cases while focusing on Gov. Gavin Newsom's six-pronged framework of parameters and tools that are needed before California can implement major changes to the state's stay-at-home orders and other COVID-19 interventions.

"The county is performing well, and I think we want to be cautious because at any time you can have a large infection," Orange County CEO Frank Kim said. "I think the residents of Orange County have demonstrated incredible restraint. When we look at our numbers and we compare those to many of our peer counties, I think we're doing remarkably well."

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Although the county expects to start easing restrictions next month, another restriction went in effect at midnight Friday, requiring any essential employee in the county who comes into contact with the public to wear a face covering while at work. The regulation does not apply to customers, although the county health officer strongly encourages people to wear one when outside of the home.

Meanwhile, beaches, parks and trails in O.C. remain open with parking lots still closed. But with the heat wave that has descended on Southern California this week, county officials have a warning for those seeking to get some relief.

"The local beaches are ideal place to do so, as long as our residents are properly maintaining social distancing," Orange County Supervisor Michelle Steele said.

RELATED: LA County officials urge residents to avoid the beach during heat wave

County officials also addressed the abrupt resignation of the Health Care Agency's Deputy Director David Souleles this week. He became acting director after Richard Sanchez stepped down last month.

Although it was unexpected in the middle of a pandemic, they say there is always a movement of staff.

"We'll be OK. I don't think that we are worried about a lack of effective staffing and management of the crisis," Kim said. "I think what you'll find is that we'll continue forward. You'll see more testing options roll out from the county, you'll see more clinics come online. You'll see the type of response that I think our Orange County residents expect."

An economic recovery committee has been established to discuss how to get businesses back open and employees back to work, once the state gives the green light. Officials say decisions will be driven by science and data.
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