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An Arizona sheriff who said he wouldn’t enforce the state’s stay-at-home order has tested positive for Covid-19

Andrew Cuomo

When Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey extended the state’s stay-at-home order into mid-May, Pinal County Sheriff Mark Lamb countered that the policy had gone on long enough.

“The numbers don’t justify the actions anymore,” he told The Arizona Republic in early May. “Three hundred deaths is not a significant enough number to continue to ruin the economy.”

Lamb said he would talk to residents in the jurisdiction near Phoenix about complying with the order. But he wouldn’t criminally enforce it.

“I think people want to know that we’re going to support their constitutional rights,” he told the newspaper. “I felt (Ducey) pushed me into a position where I needed to make our stance clear.”

Less than two months later, the sheriff announced Wednesday that he had tested positive for Covid-19.

“Unfortunately, as a law enforcement official and elected leader, we do not have the luxury of staying home,” Lamb wrote on Facebook. “This line of work is inherently dangerous, and that is a risk we take when we sign up for the job. Today, that risk is the COVID-19 virus.”

The sheriff said he was invited to an event Tuesday at the White House and was screened. Though he was asymptomatic, he tested positive for the coronavirus.

Lamb likely got infected at a June 14 reelection event, he said. Video from the event, in San Tan Valley, Arizona, shows Lamb greeting and interacting with supporters, according to the Casa Grande Dispatch.

Neither the sheriff nor the event’s attendees wear masks in the video, it shows.

Lamb will self-quarantine for at least 14 days, he said Wednesday. The Pinal County Public Health Department was working to track everyone he came into contact with after the campaign event, he said.

Cases in Arizona are surging again

Health officials in Arizona reported more than 40,000 confirmed cases of Covid-19 as of Wednesday, with 1,827 new cases reported that day. More than 1,200 people in the state have died from the virus.

Arizona is among 10 states that are seeing their highest seven-day average of new coronavirus cases per day since the pandemic started, according to a CNN analysis of data from Johns Hopkins University.

The data includes new cases reported through Tuesday by Johns Hopkins.

Ducey resisted broad calls from physicians across his state to implement a statewide mandate for wearing masks in public places.

Instead, he said Wednesday that he would leave that up to mayors because the level of transmission varies from region to region.

Ducey also announced he would be calling up to 300 National Guardsmen to help with contact tracing in the state, though he did not provide a date for the deployment.

President Donald Trump also recently announced that he would hold a campaign event in Arizona. Ducey said that to his understanding, there would be protocols around hand sanitizer, masks and temperature checks.

Asked whether he believed such measures would be enough at a political rally, Ducey called such events voluntary, emphasizing that “we’re going to protect people’s rights to assemble especially in an election year.”

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