We kick off this shortened week with Humboldt County Sheriff Billy Honsal taking questions from local media about the state of COVID in Humboldt. Watch the video above for Honsal’s complete answers and/or refer to the brief summations of the topics discussed below. 

(0:08) Do you think the county behaved responsibly over Memorial Day weekend?

“I think overall out county did a pretty good job,” Honsal said adding that the weather was nice. 

(0:32) Were there many deputies out patrolling beaches and natural places this weekend? Was anyone cited?

Honsal said his deputies mostly witnessed weekend revelers being compliant with local health orders. “There were compliance checks made and people were sticking with their households,” he said. No citations were issued. 

(1:18) Last week you recommended that no tourists come to Humboldt for the holiday weekend? Did you get any blowback from anyone in the local tourism industry?

“We had people who were not too thrilled about that statement,” Honsal said. “But my goal is to protect our residents here in our county.”

(3:01) What about the Miranda bridge and other outdoor recreation areas that don’t have trash cans?

“Pack in, pack out.”

(4:38) Did you see an increase in calls for service over Memorial Day weekend?

Honsal said he hasn’t seen an increase in calls for service overall, but there has been an uptick specifically in calls for domestic violence and domestic disturbances. HCSO has increased its patrols in the Cutten area in response to last week’s homicide there. Even though people are sheltering in place, Honsal wants to remind people to lock their doors and use exterior lighting to deter would-be criminals. 

(6:16) Is crime on the rise?

As people begin to reemerge into the community Honsal believes that crime and calls for service will rise. He notes, though, that the number of deaths handled by the Coroner’s Office have gone down significantly, as have traffic incidents handled by CHP.

(7:45) What is the Sheriff’s Office doing to deal with domestic “shelter in place rage”?

With the weather becoming nicer, Honsal hopes that people will take the opportunity to walk off some anger they might be feeling towards a co-habitant. He also encouraged people people to call the local mental health or domestic violence services for help if they are having issues. 

(9:10) As the county reopens, can you talk about how additional confirmed cases of COVID-19 might affect certifications for local businesses?

“This process can be slowed at any time if the county health officer believes that there is significant spread of COVID-19 in our community. We want to keep an eye on that,” Honsal said. “We understand that, as we open more things up, there will be more community transmission. There will be people who come down with COVID. We’ve expanded our testing, so it will happen. The fact is that we sheltered in place to prepare for people getting sick.”

(11:40) There are reports of businesses that are refusing to ask customers to wear masks which has caused other locals to fear for their health. How many citations has the Sheriff’s Office issued for failure to wear a face mask? And what are you doing about businesses that aren’t requiring customers to wear masks?

Businesses are not required to ask their customers to wear masks. “It’s not the business’s job to enforce that,” Honsal said adding that a business has the right to refuse service to anyone. Employees, however, are required to mask up. Honsal said he believes that the free market allows people to choose whether or not they will frequent a business that doesn’t require facial coverings. 

(13:08) How do you respond to people who argue that they have a Constitutional right not to wear a mask?

Regardless of the Constitution, Honsal said wearing a mask “is something we can all do to help one another out.” As far as freedom is concerned, for the most part the law is on the side of the public health officer and the sheriff’s office will issue misdemeanor citations to people repeatedly seen not wearing a mask in public. 

Honsal ended today’s clip by reminding people that churches and restaurants will begin the process of reopening this week.