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'Wide-spread Confusion' After Orange County Bans Public And Private Gatherings Of Any Size

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A sign in Anaheim warns drivers on I-5 to not gather in crowds as the threat of Coronavirus disease (COVID-19) increases throughout the nation, on March 14, 2020. (David McNew/AFP via Getty Images)
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LIVE UPDATE March 18:

Orange County Officials say residents are not under lockdown. New order will be released


Both public and private gatherings in Orange County are prohibited through the end of the month per a new order from Orange County Health officer Dr. Nichole Quick. The move is meant to mitigate the spread of the coronavirus outbreak.

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The order prohibits "all public and private gatherings of any number of people, including at places of work, occurring outside a single household or living unit." It applies "to all professional, social and community gatherings, regardless of their sponsor, that are not engaged in essential activities."


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Social distancing of 6 feet between people should also be maintained by those engaged in essential activities, according to the order. Those essential activities are wide-ranging, including government and health care operations, grocery stores, media, gas stations, banks, and a variety of other professions.

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"We recognize community members may experience anxiety related to the social disruption caused by COVID-19," Quick said in a press release.

The county encourages residents to reach out to loved ones — by phone, video message, email, or text.

Hours after the original order was released, county officials sent a follow-up news release stressing the order was not equivalent to a lockdown or "shelter in place" requirement. The follow-up message says:

"Unfortunately, the order as written caused wide-spread confusion. in order to provide additional clarity requested by Orange County residents and businesses, the County will be issuing an amended Health Officer's Order."

The evening release, titled Press Release #008 said it was "important for all Orange County residents to read the order in its entirety." Feel free to do so below. [The print is small and faint so the zoom function might be your friend.]

The new messages stresses that: "It is important for all Orange County businesses to remain open while practicing social distancing consistent with the Governor's guidance." It then goes on to note that "bars and other establishments that serve alcohol and do not serve food shall close."

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So there you have it.

We will have more on what went wrong with the messaging of this order.

READ THE FULL ORDER:

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Support our free, independent journalism today. Donate now.This story originally published at 3:34 p.m.