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Coronavirus pandemic could make for unique election campaigns

The view of Newport Harbor from Hoag Hospital in Newport Beach on May 15.
(Raul Roa / Staff Photographer)

With the novel coronavirus pandemic continuing to make its presence felt this summer, it is sure to be a unique election cycle.

Politicians running in races in November have been left to figure out how best to get their message out to their constituents at a time where large in-person gatherings have been discouraged.

Some are still taking the traditional route of holding in-person fundraisers, bearing in mind the safety protocols in place to mitigate the spread of the coronavirus.

Dozens of people paid $75 each to partake in a mixer aboard a chartered yacht in Newport Beach last week. The harbor cruise featured an opportunity for attendees to mingle with a number of Republicans running for office in November.

“Normally, it would be one big boat with a crowd of people, but they broke it up into two boats, two trips,” said Diane Dixon, Newport Beach city councilmember, who was on board for both trips. “They were socially distanced and not crowded.”

Temperature checks and masks were required to get onto the boat, per the Saddleback Valley Republican Women Federated club, the organizer of the event.

House of Representatives candidates Joe Collins (43rd District), Eric Early (28th District) and Greg Raths (45th District) and Laurie Davies, running for State Assembly (73rd District) were also scheduled to appear for the mixer.

Dixon, who is also running for State Assembly (74th District), said that stopping the spread of the virus comes down to individuals acting responsibly and doing what they think is right.

“I totally believe in personal responsibility, and so I take responsibility for myself,” Dixon said. “I will socially distance, I’ll wear a mask, I’ll wash my hands, I’ll do the smart things, and I encourage others to do that, but if people want to gather, that’s their business.”

Outside of the yacht mixer, Dixon said that she has done a lot of Zoom fundraisers. She has also rescheduled two in-person fundraisers for late August. As far as the precautionary measures that could be employed should the events go on, Dixon said that staggering the group could be a consideration.

The Republican Party of Orange County has regularly promoted upcoming events, whether they are held online or in a face-to-face manner.

Newport Beach Councilman Kevin Muldoon was not immediately available for comment about an upcoming event he’s scheduled to hold in Balboa Island next month. Muldoon is running for Orange County Supervisor (2nd District).

Protests ranging from calls to reopen the state and the nation to social justice demonstrations following the death of George Floyd have also resulted in large gatherings during the pandemic.

The Orange County Health Care Agency reported six deaths due to COVID-19 and 439 new cases of the coronavirus in the latest numbers released on Thursday.

In total, the county has seen 587 coronavirus deaths and a cumulative case count of 35,272.

As of Wednesday, the county had 626 hospitalizations due to the coronavirus, with 204 of those patients in intensive care units.

The county reported 5,366 more tests for COVID-19 within the last day, bringing the number of tests administered to 404,790. To date, an estimated 21,926 recoveries have been made after a battle with the virus.

Orange County coronavirus cases, deaths by city


Here are the latest cumulative case counts and deaths for select cities in Orange County:

  • Santa Ana: 6,665 cases; 151 deaths
  • Anaheim: 6,024 cases; 147 deaths
  • Huntington Beach: 1,649 cases; 45 deaths
  • Irvine: 1,152 cases; nine deaths
  • Costa Mesa: 1,166 cases; seven deaths
  • Newport Beach: 804 cases; six deaths
  • Fountain Valley: 354 cases; eight deaths
  • Laguna Beach: 132 cases; fewer than five deaths

Updated figures are posted daily at occovid19.ochealthinfo.com/coronavirus-in-oc.

For information on getting tested, visit occovid19.ochealthinfo.com/covid-19-testing.

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