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Downtown Disney Reopens As Coronavirus Cases Surge In Orange County

People visit Downtown Disney in Anaheim on July 9, 2020, the first day the outdoor shopping and dining complex has been open to the public since it closed in mid-March amid the COVID-19 pandemic. (Robyn Beck/AFP via Getty Images)
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Downtown Disney, the outdoor shopping district outside the Disneyland theme park, reopened on Thursday, just one day after Orange County reported a single-day record of new coronavirus cases. Hospitalizations in the county have jumped by 97% over the past three weeks.

On opening day, there was a line to get into the outdoor mall before it opened at 10 a.m. Social media posts also showed crowds inside some of the Disney-brand stores, buying special edition merch.

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Doctor Kimberly Shriner, an infectious disease specialist at Huntington Hospital, says she understands the economic concerns at play, but doesn't think opening up a potentially crowded shopping area is wise at the moment, given the surging cases across Southern California.

"It's sort of sending the message to people that it's safe to do these activities," she told KPCC/LAist, "and it really isn't right now."

Orange County is experiencing a sharp increase in coronavirus hospitalizations this week. The county now has 691 COVID-19 patients in the hospital, nearly double the number from three weeks ago. On Thursday Orange County reported nearly 1,300 new cases of coronavirus. The county has seen a total of more than 21,000 cases of the disease since March.

Disneyland's website outlines reopening safety guideliens like required masks and temperature checks at the entrance to the shopping center. The page also includes a disclamer: "By visiting the Disneyland Resort, you voluntarily assume all risks related to exposure to COVID-19."

Disneyland itself remains closed. Park officials pushed back a planned July 17 reopening of the theme park, after the state changed reopening dates in response to surging cases at the end of June. Orange County officials revealed very high rates of COVID-19 cases specifially in areas near the park, information that they allegedly tried to keep secret, according to the Voice of Orange County.

Disneyland employees also wrote a letter to Governor Gavin Newsom saying they don't feel safe going back to work.

Meanwhile, Disneyworld reopened to the public on Saturday. We'll have to see how that goes.

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