Humboldt County Sheriff Billy Honsal sat down once again today to be recorded answering questions from local media outlets and to provide an update on this whole COVID-19 mess we’re in.
He begins by noting that Humboldt and most of our far-NorCal neighbors have managed to stay off the governor’s watch list, saving us from even more restrictions, but with local case numbers rising again he says, “I think it’s something, obviously, to be concerned about.”
Though he personally remains mask-free in the video, Honsal advises people to “follow the protocol: sanitizing, keep your social distancing, wear your facial coverings. It’s very, very important that that does happen.”
Below you’ll find a list of today’s questions along with summaries of the sheriff’s answers.
Are deputies with the Sheriff’s Office or other employees who regularly interact with the public being tested regularly for COVID-19? And does the Sheriff’s Office require regular testing, or do deputies have to seek testing themselves? (1:28)
“So, we are not currently testing all of our deputies,” Honsal says. Some employees volunteered to get tested early on, and while that option is still there — and encouraged — the department hasn’t mandated testing.
Theoretically, if a school district in Humboldt County were to reopen for in-person instruction against the state’s orders, could there be any law enforcement action against the district? And if so, who would be held responsible? (2:11)
“I don’t see any of our districts defying the governor’s order and opening those doors, so I don’t think we’re going to have that problem,” Honsal says. In-person instruction remains an option for now, and some schools are planning to go in that direction, at least in part.
He’s had a lot of conversations with Dr. Teresa Frankovich, the county’s public health officer, about this, “and we believe it’s in the best interest of the kids to be in school … ,” he says. “We can’t just hit the pause button on our children for a year. Learning has to continue.”
How many first responders — firefighters, ambulance crews, law enforcement and correctional officers/probation — have tested positive for COVID-19? (3:51)
Honsal says he doesn’t have an exhaustive list, but two deputies have tested positive. Both are well and remain under isolation orders. He expects more “because we do have first responders who are out there every day dealing with people,” he says. There are times when they can’t wear masks, but they’re doing their best.
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With just the three questions today, Honsal goes on to express appreciation for “all those people that have come forward and have offered their support and thanks for law enforcement.” He holds up a collection of greeting cards and gestures at more on the shelves behind him.
“We know that, in general, our county loves our law enforcement, loves our Sheriff’s Office, and our deputies are feeling that right now,” he says. “So I really appreciate the outpouring of support.”
Lastly, he gives a plug for Battle of the Badges, a weeklong competition among public safety agencies, hosted by the Northern California Community Blood Bank. He encourages all locals to go give blood on behalf of their favorite agency. You can register online or call 443-8004.