A Virginia sheriff has rejected a request by Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam to help enforce a mandatory lockdown on certain businesses in the northern part of the state.
Culpepper County Sheriff Scott Jenkins announced on Tuesday that he would not enforce Northam’s partial lockdown order, which has already been rolled back from much of the state.
“Heads of law enforcement agencies in the Rappahannock Rapidan Health District were contacted today by the district health director, Dr. Wade Kartchner. The purpose was to request assistance on enforcement of Governor Northam’s Executive Order 61,” Jenkins said in a statement.
“My response to that request is that we will not trample the constitutional freedoms of our citizens to enforce an edict of the Governor. I do not speak for any of the other jurisdictions in the health district,” Jenkins said.
“Heads of law-enforcement agencies in the Rappahannock Rapidan Health District were contacted today by the district…
Posted by Culpeper County Sheriff's Office on Tuesday, May 12, 2020
A number of cities and counties making up the “Northern Virginia Region” requested that Northam not move forward with reopening their economies and lifting strict lockdown orders off of hundreds of businesses. Northam assented, leaving Arlington, Fairfax, Loudoun, and Prince William counties under “Phase Zero” of the reopening strategy.
Northam’s new order, Executive Order 61, adjusts the reopening dates for the Northern Virginia Area and leaves residents under strict social distancing rules that prohibit movement outside their homes except for state-approved activities, such as exercise, purchasing groceries, or volunteering.
Businesses such as gyms and movie theaters must remain closed while restaurants and breweries must only operate on a take-out/delivery basis.
“The Northern Virginia Region is substantially higher than the rest of the Commonwealth in percentage of positive tests for COVID-19. The Northern Virginia Region has about a 25% positivity rate, while the rest of the Commonwealth is closer to 10%. Further, in the last 24 hours, the Northern Virginia Region reported over 700 cases, while the rest of the Commonwealth reported approximately 270. On any given day, 70% of the Commonwealth’s positive cases are attributable to the Northern Virginia Region,” order 61 says.
States are moving forward with reopening strategies since most locked down in late-March or early-April. The outbreak of the pandemic and subsequent shutdowns have taken an enormous toll on the economy. That toll has been projected to possibly cost about 75,000 more lives in “deaths of despair” from suicide, alcohol, and drugs. The virus itself is responsible for just over 85,000 deaths in the U.S. so far.
Georgia, one of the earliest states to pursue reopening, is becoming a relative success in restarting businesses while combating the coronavirus. The state has lifted many restrictions and allowed restaurants to renew seated dining while its number of cases of coronavirus has continued to fall. From May 4 to May 11, the number of cases across the state declined by 12%, according to a tracking map created by Axios.
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