Sacramento County Sheriff Scott Jones has tested positive for COVID-19 after he refused to enforce California‘s mask mandate or nighttime curfew and refused to provide the state with data on virus cases in jails.
Jones tested positive for the virus Monday, the same day Sacramento County recorded its highest number of new daily infections with 1,115 cases in a single day.
It comes after the sheriff has consistently pushed back against Governor Gavin Newsom’s state orders put in place to slow the spread of the virus.
Sacramento County Sheriff Scott Jones (pictured) has tested positive for COVID-19 after he refused to enforce California’s mask mandate or nighttime curfew and refused to provide the state with data on virus cases in jails
The sheriff’s office confirmed Jones’s diagnosis in a statement Monday, saying he was quarantining at home and following health official guidance.
Jones began showing mild symptoms for the virus Friday including a fever, congestion, light-headedness, and a headache after he was exposed to the virus through a colleague who later tested positive, his office said.
He started feeling better Sunday morning and by Monday, when his test came back positive, he had ‘almost no remaining symptoms’, the statement read.
Jones’s family members have also been tested and are quarantining as they await results.
The office states that ‘dozens’ of Sacramento Sheriff’s Office employees have contracted the virus over the course of the pandemic through their line of work ‘despite rigorous institutional safety practices and following all recommended personal safety protocols’.
However, Jones has repeatedly pushed back against and refused to enforce several of the state’s public health mandates.
Last month, Newsom introduced a curfew for all California counties in the most severe purple tier where coronavirus is deemed to be ‘widespread’.
Jones tested positive for the virus Monday, the same day Sacramento County recorded its highest number of new daily infections with 1,115 cases in a single day
The curfew, dubbed a ‘limited Stay at Home Order’ by the state ordered Californians in the affected counties to stay home between the hours of 10 p.m. to 5 a.m. from November 22 until December 21.
At the time it affected 41 of the state’s 58 counties and more than 94 percent of the state’s population.
Jones responded to the order on November 19 by saying his office would not enforce compliance with the state’s order or any other order related to ‘Thanksgiving or other social gatherings’ or to wearing masks.
‘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, maximum occupancy, or mask mandates,’ he said in a statement.
He added that he ‘will not dispatch officers for these purposes’ and ‘would like to wish everyone a happy and meaningful Thanksgiving Holiday.’
This came after Jones spoke out in June to say he would not enforce Newsom’s mask mandate, brushing off a refusal to wear one as a ‘minor offense’.
‘The potential for negative outcomes during enforcement encounters, and anticipating the various ways in which the order may be violated, it would be inappropriate for deputies to criminally enforce the Governor’s mandate,’ he said in a statement on June 19.
‘Accordingly, the Sheriff’s Office will not be doing so.’
It comes after the sheriff has consistently pushed back against Governor Gavin Newsom’s state orders put in place to slow the spread of the virus including refusing to enforce a mask mandate
The sheriff also refused to participate in a statewide database to track coronavirus cases and testing in jails back in August.
The Board of State and Community Corrections had launched an online dashboard tracking COVID-19 in California jails including testing, inmate infections and hospitalizations.
Jones’ office said it had reviewed the tracking system and did not think the data as ‘comprehensive enough to show a complete picture related to COVID and our jail system’ and so would not share its information.
Sacramento was one of only two counties across all 58 California counties that refused to take part with the other being Tehama County.
Jones’ positive diagnosis comes as cases are surging in Sacramento.
New daily cases hit record levels this week with 1,115 cases reported Tuesday, dwarfing the previous daily record of 957 on November 24.
Another 368 cases were recorded Wednesday marking a significant drop but hospitalizations continue to surge to concerning heights.
A total of 363 patients were in hospital with the virus Wednesday, of which 77 were in ICU.
By contrast, the previous peak hospitalizations was 281 in the summer.
Concerns are mounting that the healthcare system could buckle under the weight of the demand with only 64 ICU beds still empty for future patients.
In total, there have been 39,367 cases and 591 deaths from the virus in Sacramento County.
Across the state, California is currently experiencing the highest rate of increase in COVID-19 cases since the pandemic began.
On Wednesday, it shattered its own record of daily cases with 20,759 recorded – more than 2,500 higher than its previous record of 18,350.
A total of 1.24 million people have been infected and 19,324 have died.
Newsom warned Monday that Southern California could run out of ICU capacity by mid-December if it continues on its worrying trajectory and said a stricter stay-at-home order could be round the corner.
Nationwide more than 13.9 million people have been infected and 273,746 died.