It’s Humboldt County Sheriff Billy Honsal’s turn to take COVID-19 questions from local media. Below, we’ll time stamp our brief summary of the questions posed along with portions of Honsal’s answers. Watch the video above for the full Billy.
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(0:17) What would you tell protesters who believe that the shelter-in-place order is more harmful than the virus?
Honsal says he does not object to anyone exercising their constitutional rights, but he believes that he and Humboldt County health officer Dr. Frankovich are acting in the best interests of the community based on the information he has.
“I’m going to listen to the people who actually have the data and have the facts that we’re supposed to consider [while also adhering] to our state guidelines,” Honsal said.
(3:16) Can you tell us a little more about the compliant business certification program and accompanying signage?
As we look forward to a time when businesses start to open up we want the community to know that they’ll be safe. This program is intended to help people have confidence that businesses are adhering to social distancing guidelines meant to protect people. You can expect to see signs in the windows of participating businesses soon.
“Restaurants are first, we’re imagining grocery stores will be next and then general businesses after that. We are planning on pushing it out this week,” Honsal said.
(4:57) How will the sheriff’s office be verifying compliance for restaurants who sign up participate in the program?
We will do spot checks and will also rely on the community to let us know if they see a problem — the number for the county’s COVID compliance line is 707-441-3022.
“The community will do the policing for us, I believe,” Honsal said.
(7:07) There have been reports of people entering local businesses without face coverings. How will the county enforce the mandatory face mask order?
Citizens are invited to call the sheriff’s office and complain if they see people who aren’t following the order. Honsal said he doesn’t want to see businesses having to enforce the order and reminds them that they have the right to refuse service.
“I think it’s important that they understand that there’s no requirement under the public health officer’s order [for businesses] to enforce this,” Honsal said. “[The order] is a guideline for them to be able to set up those internal policies. But if they feel the need, if people are there and they’re not leaving because they’re not wearing a mask they can always call law enforcement and we can go and have a talk with them about it.”
(9:05) Can you tell us a little about what the Office of Emergency Services (OES) is doing at the Emergency Operations Center (EOC) at this time?
The OES is the sheriff’s office’s tool for managing emergency response. There are currently 60 people working out of the EOC pooling resources to help the community. For an example of their efforts, look at the facility being constructed at Redwood Acres.
“We had to create an alternate care site,” Honsal said. Our EOC kicked into action, working with Cal OES, and we brought together a 100 bed care site.”
Honsal closed the Q&A by addressing the community and said he “appreciates everyone’s patience, here in this. I think it’s important that they know that we’re taking this seriously. We hear everyone’s feedback. We know people are in fear. We know people are frustrated because their businesses are not up and running. Everyone wants to be done with this. Believe me.”