As California announced a “limited stay at home order” designed to clamp down on after-hours mixing among those from different households during the pandemic, San Diego County Sheriff Bill Gore said he would assign eight deputies to help investigate health order complaints and quickly issue citations in cases where residents refuse to comply, reports the San Diego Union-Tribune. Starting Saturday, “all gatherings with members of other households” must “cease” between 10 p.m. and 5 a.m. the following day. The state curfew lasts through Dec. 21,.
San Diego County’s stepped-up enforcement effort came as the region’s coronavirus test positivity rate continued to rise. The county’s latest COVID-19 report included 899 additional local positive tests — the sixth straight day with a number over 700. Until recently, the county health department has been sparing with issuing cease-and-desist orders to area businesses and other establishments found to be in violation of COVID rules. Gore believes the current trends in the testing and hospitalization data argue for more direct involvement of his armed emissaries. He stressed that deputies will continue to seek voluntary compliance before writing tickets. The sheriff has obtained cooperation with police departments in cities that do not contract with the county for law enforcement services. Some places were not on that list, such as El Cajon, which has very publicly declined to write citations when businesses, churches and other establishments remain open at levels not allowed by state and local anti-COVID rules. Gore believes he has the legal right to enforce public health orders anywhere in the county.