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Ohio lawman refuses to enforce governor’s mask order: ‘I’m not going to be the mask police’

"I'm telling people don't call 911" upon observing Ohioans not wearing masks.

Image Credit: butlersheriff.org

A no-nonsense sheriff from Ohio spoke out on Wednesday to defy his governor’s new social distancing rules in response to the coronavirus pandemic, saying that he refuses to be the “mask police.”

Butler County Sheriff Richard K. Jones explained why exactly he has no intention of enforcing the new order by Republican Governor Mike DeWine during an appearance on CNN.

“I’m not going to be the mask police,” Jones told host Brianna Keilar. “I’m telling people don’t call 911. All the police have been decimated as far as being laid off, having budgets cut, and I am not going to enforce the mask wearing.”

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The sheriff went on to say that while he wears a mask and washes his hands, he doesn’t think the government should get involved in forcing people to do that.

“I believe you and the media are confused!” Jones fired back when Keilar tried to press him on statistics about COVID-19 cases.

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“In addition to social distancing and reducing unnecessary interactions with others, we know that wearing a mask helps protect others in the community,” DeWine had said of the order. “It has been, and remains, a very strong recommendation that I urge all Ohioans to continue doing even if you are not in a red-alert county.”

Daniel Tierney, a spokesman for DeWine, told The Hill that local health departments will be enforcing the new order, with law enforcement only getting involved under “extreme circumstances,” like when someone who has tested positive for coronavirus is not wearing a mask in public.

“We don’t expect criminal prosecutions,” he said. “Ohioans have done a great job of following health protocols. We’ve strongly encouraged wearing masks throughout that process, and a number of residents have.”

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DeWine will be reassessing this order, which does not apply to children under the age of 10, every week. This comes after there were more than 58,000 confirmed COVID-19 cases in Ohio, with nearly 3,000 confirmed and probable deaths caused by the virus that has wreaked havoc on the world.

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