A Culpeper sheriff is refusing to keep Gov. Ralph Northam’s stay-at-home order in place, even though his county has a higher number of cases per capita than many other northern Virginia counties, including Fairfax, which has the most cases in the state.
Culpeper County has 329 cases of coronavirus, according to the Virginia Department of Health, and a population of 52,625 people, making their per capita infection rate 0.63%. Fairfax County has far more cases at 6,951 people, but the county has a population over 1 million people, making their infection rate 0.61%.
Despite that fact, Culpeper County Sheriff Scott Jenkins said he would not follow the governor’s request.
“My response to that request is that we will not trample the constitutional freedoms of our citizens to enforce an edict of the Governor. I do not speak for any of the other jurisdictions in the health district,” Jenkins said in a statement on Facebook.
Jenkins was elected to his position as sheriff in 2012. He has made headlines in the past for promising to deputize thousands of local residents after “unconstitutional gun control legislation” was passed in the Virginia legislature, but has not followed through on those claims.
Earlier this week, Northam and northern Virginia leaders said the region should remain under stay-at-home orders until the end of May, because the virus is more widespread in the region and its close proximity to D.C and Maryland. They voiced concern over reopening too early and risking the lives of residents.
The rest of Virginia will enter the governor’s first phase of reopening tomorrow. Under that order, barbershops and salons can reopen to take appointments but must wear masks, restaurants and breweries can serve patrons outside at 50% capacity, and non-essential retail can reopen to 50% capacity.