With the COVID-19 stay-at-home order still in place but some residents violating it, the Douglas County Sheriff's Office has had to add a new service to their workload: breaking up illicit group …
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With the COVID-19 stay-at-home order still in place but some residents violating it, the Douglas County Sheriff's Office has had to add a new service to their workload: breaking up illicit group activities.
As of April 8, the sheriff's office had received 161 calls for service in response to group gatherings and deemed 45 of them as actual violations of the state's public health order, said spokeswoman Lauren Childress.
They had also issued three written warnings for people or businesses who still didn't comply when approached by deputies, Childress said.
“That's a boost in calls in addition to what we already have,” she said. “We're still responding to all normal calls for service so this just increases our workload.”
Sheriff Tony Spurlock decided to step out of the office and get a firsthand look at the county by taking on patrol duties Wednesday, April 8. In doing so, he found that while his department has had some calls for groups gathering at parks or school fields, most people are complying with the order. Usually, the groups turn out to be polite and respectful when asked to disperse, he said.
“I think we are seeing a lot of people in our parks and trails but they're all doing an exceptional job of social distancing,” he said.
When deputies do see people gathering, the main goal is to educate them on the public health order and the virus, Spurlock said.
Spurlock's office alone has had 73 people call out sick since the virus began spreading, with 11 testing positive for COVID-19. One of these employees is in critical condition, he said.
“This is not just the flu,” he said. “This is a serious illness.”
The deputies are permitted to break up these gatherings during the public health order.
“There's a lawful public health order in place that was issued by the state,” he said, “And those orders are pretty clear.”
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