Clayton Chau relaxes mask order; and many OC businesses open … wait … NOW!




“Sorry boss,” he joked to Frank Kim … Clayton is NOT going to end up like Nichole.

I like this quote from new (acting?) OC Health Officer Clayton Chau, who has jumped quickly into the place vacated by the martyred Dr. Nichole Quick: “I will always stand by science, even though I work for the Board of Supervisors.”  Was he trying to illustrate his contention that he “doesn’t speak politics?” 

Or does he?

Well, nobody’s gonna paint a Hitler mustache on Clayton Chau’s face now, or stage a die-in on his front lawn – he has just surprised the county by relaxing his predecessor’s mandatory mask order to a STRONG RECOMMENDATION that we should all wear masks in public when we are closer to each other than six feet.  (And here even I was confused, I thought it was ALREADY just a “strong recommendation” that the mob had been having a cow over, the county’s messaging has been so unclear.)

Clayton swears his sudden change of tune had NOTHING to do with public pressure, or the pressure of politicians.  But WAIT, Clayton – just TWO DAYS AGO you were telling us all that we’d have to go through THREE WEEKS of good results before you’d consider relaxing the orders, much to the chagrin of finger-wagging Don Wagner.  Why the sudden change?

Clayton’s explanation is that within the last few days, the state changed its “monitoring criteria,” making OC’s numbers look better than he thought, and he also consulted with lots of other scientists, academicians, and so on.  I think most of us feel skeptical about this sudden about-face.

In any case, the mask order, whether “mandatory” or “strongly recommended,” whether “SHALL” or “SHOULD,” was pointedly not enforced by law enforcement, and followed only by people who believed in it, which seems to be most of us.  The anti-maskers, who’ve convinced themselves that THEY have the “SCIENCE” proving that MASKS KILL AND MOLEST, will continue to defy the orders [each time Clayton emphasized how important masks still are, a sea of “angry Facebook faces” swam across the video.]

It’ll all come down to businesses, employers, and us individuals, to keep fighting this virus.  And if the numbers start looking much worse (and they haven’t actually been getting better) we’ll have to shut down business again, which’ll suck even harder than the first time!

Speaking of Opening Businesses…

Since I’m writing this so late on Thursday night, you’re probably reading it on Friday, which means the following businesses are open … wait for it … NOW!!!

  • Movie Theaters!
  • Family Entertainment!  (thankfully excluding Chuck E Cheese which has died)
  • Restaurants!
  • Wineries!
  • Bars!  (but drink with your mask on if you care about your health and others’)
  • ZOOS!  Hell yeah!
  • Museums!
  • Gyms & Fitness Centers!
  • Campgrounds!
  • Racetracks!
  • Public AND H.O.A. Swimming Pools!

Some smartass commenter wrote “poor Vern” about all this.  No, not poor me, I hope this all works out.  Our County Health Director is trusting us – trusting YOU – to social-distance, to wear facial covering when in proximity to others, to wash your hands regularly, and to stay HOME if you feel at all sick.  If things go south I’m blaming it on YOU, bud.

In other news from today’s presser, the county will now begin showing fatalities by city (something John Earl had to specially request last week) and also sort out which ones of those are from skilled nursing facilities, so you don’t have to feel too bad. 

Also, questioned on spikes of infections from recent days, Dr. Chau blamed it on the residual effects of “Memorial Day weekend activities.”  Think on that.

Watch the press conference here for yourself. 

Oh, a final note for folks who live in CA-48 (Newport, HB, Costa Mesa, Fountain Valley) – Supervisor Chairwoman Michelle Steel, running for Congress, starts each of these events off reading from a script full of words she clearly doesn’t understand and can’t pronounce.  And then she immediately leaves and takes NO QUESTIONS, leaving that all up to CEO Frank Kim and Health Officer Chau. 

I really don’t think you should put this woman into Congress in the place of hella competent and moderate Harley Rouda.  Your call though…



About Vern Nelson

Greatest pianist/composer in Orange County, and official troubador of both Anaheim and Huntington Beach (the two ends of the Santa Ana Aquifer.) Performs regularly both solo, and with his savage-jazz quintet The Vern Nelson Problem. Reach at, or 714-235-VERN.