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10 new coronavirus-related deaths reported in county as Huntington Beach promotes ‘Masks Up, Surf City’

New signs that say "Masks Up, Surf City" line Main Street in Huntington Beach on Tuesday.
New signs that say “Masks Up, Surf City” line Main Street in Huntington Beach on Tuesday.
(Scott Smeltzer / Staff Photographer)

As the novel coronavirus pandemic continues, the city of Huntington Beach is doubling down on its “Masks Up, Surf City” campaign.

The campaign, a play on the phrase “Surf’s Up,” includes 100 pennants, a banner at the pier and digital displays citywide, Huntington Beach spokeswoman Catherine Jun said. Fifty pennants were installed downtown on Aug. 6. The remaining signs are in production this week, and 13 pennants and a banner are expected to be installed on the Huntington Beach Pier by Thursday.

Digital versions of the “Masks Up, Surf City” signs are already on display on readerboards at Golden West College, Pacific City and near the 405 Freeway/Beach Boulevard. Jun added that the Huntington Beach Fire Department’s community emergency response team has distributed nearly 2,200 free masks downtown over the past three weekends.

“Many of our business partners are reaching out to us, asking if we can install signage on their storefronts or around their neighborhoods, and we’re looking to expand this program more widely,” Jun said. “Signs are also being displayed on our other media platforms, including social media, Surf City TV and an email blast to 80,000-plus individuals.”

Huntington Beach Mayor Lyn Semeta has been mentioning the campaign in her weekly video addresses to residents.

“This citywide campaign is spreading the word about the importance of mask use, and the feedback we’ve received has been overwhelmingly positive — especially from the business community and partners at Visit Huntington Beach and the Downtown BID,” Semeta said. “Based on my observations, more people are stepping up, wearing masks and doing everything they can to protect our community from COVID-19.”

"Masks Up, Surf City" is a city-run campaign to encourage people to wear masks while out and about.
“Masks Up, Surf City” is a city-run campaign to encourage people to wear masks while out and about.
(Scott Smeltzer / Staff Photographer)

Ten more Orange County deaths were reported by the Orange County Health Care Agency due to COVID-19 on Tuesday, bringing the county’s death toll to 734. There were 1,051 daily positive tests received, and the amount of cumulative cases (including deaths) is now 41,578.

The county is nearing half a million tests administered, as there have now been 498,642 cumulative tests, including 13,839 reported Tuesday.

Surf City has developed a reputation as resisting the use of masks, but Huntington Beach resident Amanda Olson, 38, said she sees the campaign as a positive one.

Olson contracted a mild case of COVID-19 herself in early July, she said, but has since recovered.

“I feel like [wearing a mask] has become more mainstream,” Olson said. “There was a time when even if you were wearing one, you were kind of worried that people were going to say something to you in a negative way. Now, I feel like I see a lot more masks, and I’m glad. I think there was a little bit of a reality check after all of those big protests, and people were having these big church services.

“People were going out of their way to make it a big point about not wearing them, and now I think a lot more people know people who have had [COVID-19], or they’ve had it themselves ... I think there’s a lot more moderate people who aren’t as visible that are finally kind of getting their voice heard.”

Qualified small businesses are able to apply for one-time $5,000 grants, with 20 to qualify for the first round.

Huntington Beach resident Kevin Wood, 54, said he was laid off from his job as a regional sales manager for a large electronics company in March. Though he called himself “center-right” from a political standpoint and a supporter of President Trump, he said he recognizes wearing masks as an important and nonpolitical issue.

“I have a contract in my hand right now for a job that’s going to pay me a lot of money to cover L.A. for this certain company,” Wood said. “They won’t hire me because L.A.'s not open, so there’s no one to go see ... My take is to wear your mask, do the right thing to get this economy back open. I need a job.

“I don’t know how Huntington got so controversial. Just wear a damn mask and get us back to work.”

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

  • Santa Ana: 8,062 cases; 192 deaths
  • Anaheim: 7,093 cases; 174 deaths
  • Huntington Beach: 1,843 cases; 52 deaths
  • Costa Mesa: 1,358 cases; 13 deaths
  • Irvine: 1,274 cases; 12 deaths
  • Newport Beach: 943 cases; 14 deaths
  • Fountain Valley: 398 cases; 10 deaths
  • Laguna Beach: 147 cases; fewer than five deaths

For up-to-date information about the coronavirus in Orange County, visit occovid19.ochealthinfo.com/coronavirus-in-oc.

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