SANTA ANA, Calif. - Orange County's chief health officer, Dr. Nichole Quick, resigned Monday night because of the backlash she faced when she ordered county residents last month to wear face coverings when going out in public amid the COVID-19 pandemic.
Protesters began demonstrating against her and even went to her home. At a recent Board of Supervisors meeting, residents brought a poster with Quick's photo on it with a Hitler mustache on her face and swastikas.
It got to the point where the county's top medical professional was receiving heightened security over the threats.
The county's top medical professional was receiving heightened security due to threats that stemmed from that health order.
Quick did not make a public comment about her resignation on Monday night.
Supervisor Doug Chaffee said Quick resigned apparently because "it was too much for her. 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."
Quick's resignation was the second major and abrupt departure in Orange County since the pandemic began. David Souleles decided to retire in April as deputy agency director of public health services.
The plan is to have the Health Care Agency Director Dr. Clayton Chau also serve as the chief health officer as well so the county can issue health orders required by the state to reopen businesses and activities such as bars, day camps, community pools, hotels and youth sports.
Chaffee was not sure what would happen with Quick's mask order. Chau has defended it, explaining it is required when residents cannot maintain six feet of social distancing.
Chaffee noted that for all the residents who show up at board of supervisors meetings to complain about the mask order officials have received a great deal of expressions of support for it.
"The email is 10 to one to keep it," Chaffee said. "They're afraid to show up (at board meetings) because of the confrontation it will entail."
Chaffee said he would "stand by whatever the medical opinion is" going forward.
Quick said she would reconsider the mask order in three weeks, "and we're at day 9 or 10," Chaffee said.
Quick said she issued the order because she was concerned about an increase in coronavirus cases as residents would be interacting more as stay-at-home orders were relaxed.
Last week, Quick drew criticism from Supervisor Don Wagner, who questioned the need for face coverings as he said other parts of the state were backing away from those orders. Quick replied that Los Angeles and San Diego counties were requiring them.
"We are seeing an increase in community transmission," Quick said at last Tuesday's board meeting. "I also think our hospitalization rates have been trending up."
Quick said face coverings "can help prevent the transmission of COVID-19. There is evidence to support that and I feel strongly we need a face covering order in place as we continue to send people out into more social interactions."
Wagner said some residents have complained of "public shaming" for not wearing a face covering and have been denied service in "pharmacies and other places. Is that an appropriate response to your mask policy?"
Quick replied, "I absolutely think people should not be shamed if they have a medical reason for not wearing a mask."
When Wagner asked her how much longer it needed to be in place, Quick said, "Like all things in Covid, we evaluate the data and evidence on a daily basis... As long as we're seeing increasing numbers in the county... I feel the need for a face-covering mandate."
CNS contributed to this report.