As California Gov. Gavin Newsom ordered restrictions aimed at curbing a surge of Covid-19 cases, Sacramento County Sheriff Scott Jones declined to enforce them.
On Wednesday, Jones’ office announced that he had tested positive for the virus.
“Yesterday, December 1st, Sheriff Scott Jones received positive test results for Covid-19,” the sheriff’s office said in a statement. “He was tested when he developed symptoms late last week after a workplace exposure to an employee that later tested positive.”
His symptoms, which included a fever, congestion and light-headedness, began last Friday, the statement said. His family also is in quarantine.
The sheriff is one of dozens of employees in the Sacramento County Sheriff’s Office who have contracted the virus, despite rigorous safety practices and following safety protocols, the department said. It is unclear how and by whom these people were infected.
Rodney Grassmann, a spokesperson for the sheriff, told CNN that Jones was doing well and that almost all of his symptoms had subsided. He declined to offer further details.
“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,” Grassmann added.
Covid-19 cases in Sacramento County are rising rapidly. The county smashed its previous single-day case count on Wednesday, reporting more than 1,100 new confirmed cases. The county also has a 10.7% test positivity rate, significantly higher than the statewide rate of 6.9% — putting it in the most restrictive of California’s reopening tiers.
Last month, Jones said he would not enforce a curfew issued by Newsom prohibiting nonessential gatherings from 10 p.m. to 5 a.m. for the vast majority of the state’s 40 million residents.
“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,” Jones said in a November 19 press release.
Jones also resisted enforcing earlier restrictions by officials, including the statewide mask mandate Newsom issued on June 18.
“Due to the minor nature of the 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,” the office said.
Instead, the department said it would operate on an “educational capacity.” It encouraged residents to wear masks, especially around those in high-risk groups.
Jones isn’t the first sheriff in this position. In June, a sheriff in Arizona who refused to enforce Gov. Doug Ducey’s stay-at-home order later tested positive for Covid-19.