State Watch

California sheriff tests positive for COVID-19 after refusing to enforce state restrictions

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A California sheriff tested positive for COVID-19 on Tuesday after previously refusing to enforce state restrictions aimed at mitigating spread of the infectious disease.

The Sacramento County Sheriff’s Office announced on Wednesday that Sheriff Scott Jones received a positive coronavirus test the day prior after developing symptoms late last week. 

Jones started to have COVID-19 symptoms last Friday after he was exposed to an employee who later tested positive for the virus.

“Sheriff Jones’ symptoms started last Friday and were mild, including a fever, congestion, light-headedness, and a headache,” the office said in a release. “He started feeling better Sunday morning, and today has almost no remaining symptoms.”

The sheriff is following health official recommendations and self-isolating. His immediate family is waiting to get back their test results and will quarantine. 

Jones is one of “dozens of Sacramento Sheriff’s Office employees who … have contracted the virus,” the department said in a statement, without specifying how many and how the employees contracted the virus. 

Rodney Grassman, a spokesperson for the sheriff, told The Hill in a statement that Jones is “doing well and has almost no symptoms remaining.” 

He said he and the sheriff would not give interviews on the test result, saying, “the sheriff is an elected public official so he wanted to share the diagnosis with the public but at the same time this is a medical condition and thus a private matter for the sheriff and his family.”

Jones’s positive test comes after the sheriff has declined to enforce several restrictions implemented by California Gov. Gavin Newsom (D). 

In November, he said his office would not enforce Newsom’s curfew against nonessential gatherings from 10 p.m. to 5 a.m. or dispatch officers to address violations. 

“The Sacramento County Sheriff’s Office will not be determining—including entering any home or business—compliance with, or enforcing compliance of, any health or emergency orders related to curfews, staying at home, Thanksgiving or other social gatherings inside or outside the home,” the department said in a Nov. 19 press release

In June, Jones released a statement saying that the office “recommends that everyone continue exercising safe practices, including wearing masks.” But he said his deputies would not punish violators, saying that would be “inappropriate” because of “the minor nature of the offense.”

Sacramento County is categorized as one of 52 counties in California where the coronavirus risk is considered widespread. The county has a 9.4 percent positivity rate and records 26.6 new cases per day per 100,000 people. 

Tags California Coronavirus coronavirus restrictions COVID-19 COVID-19 positive curfew Gavin Newsom mask mandate Pandemic Sacramento County Sacramento County Sheriff's Office

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