2 Arizona sheriffs refuse to enforce a stay-at-home order
PHOENIX (AP) — Two Arizona sheriffs are refusing to enforce Gov. Doug Ducey’s stay-at-home order as the state continues to deal with the coronavirus.
Mohave County Sheriff Doug Schuster and Pinal County Sheriff Mark Lamb both said they aren’t going to hand out fines, citations or arrest people who disobey the governor’s mandate that has been extended through May 15.
Mohave County is in northwestern Arizona with Pinal County located south of Phoenix. Of Arizona’s 15 counties, the state’s two most populous — Maricopa and Pima — have the most COVID-19 cases by far.
“I’m not going to make criminals out of law-abiding citizens,” Schuster told Phoenix TV station KTVK. “As a sheriff, I cannot in good conscience issue citations or arrest people for not social distancing.”
“It’s unfortunate that we’re here but I need to make a stand for the people and for freedom,” Lamb said. “I don’t want to cite, fine or arrest fine people.”
Ducey already has laid out consequences for violating his stay-at-home order: a $2,500 fine and up to six months in jail.
But Schuster and Lamb said they will not enforce the mandate.
The two sheriffs said they’re not encouraging people to break the governor’s order but feel compelled to uphold the constitution.
“We recognize the sacrifices people have made throughout this health emergency,” a statement from the Governor’s Office said. “We know many Arizonans are feeling economic pain and we’re doing everything we can to alleviate that while ensuring health and safety.”
Meanwhile, state health officials said Sunday that Arizona now has 8,640 coronavirus cases and 362 known deaths, an increase of 276 cases and 14 deaths since Saturday’s released figures.
The Arizona Department of Health Services said more than 76% of the people who have died of coronavirus were ages 65 and older.
A majority of the deaths have come in Maricopa County (4,585) and Pima County (1,326).
For most people, the new coronavirus causes mild or moderate symptoms, such as fever and cough that clear up in two to three weeks. For some, especially older adults and people with existing health problems, it can cause more severe illness, including pneumonia and death.