SANDERSVILLE Ga. (WJBF) — Officials around the world say social distancing is the best solution to flatten the coronavirus outbreak. But what can local governments do if those words fall on deaf ears?
“My office will prosecute anyone that is charged with those ordinance violations,” said Washington County Solicitor General Micheal Howard.
Washington County Chairman Horace Daniel issued a Declaration of Local State of Emergency on March 23rd. However, Howard told NewsChannel 6 reporter Devin Johnson that emergency order is being ignored.
“We’ve been fortunate in this county that we only have four cases,” said Howard. “We don’t want anymore, but we are concerned if the citizens don’t take heed of the emergency order, we are going to see our cases grow.”
He says businesses are complying with the ordinance, but he says individuals are causing the problems.
“We have people getting together and having parties,” explained Howard. “We know this because you can drive by a house and see 10 to 20 cars there.”
President Donald Trump and medical experts are predicting more than 100,000 deaths due to the coronavirus. Washington County’s Solicitor General believes other local governments might be forced to follow their action.
“If that holds to be accurate and this situation looks to be a long term pandemic, I think drastic actions are going to have to be taken by most of all the municipalities,” said Howard.
Those who violate the curfew could receive up to a year in jail and or a $1,000 fine.
“Initially, it would just stem from the officer saying, you’re in violation of the curfew, or you’re in violation of the stay-at-home ordinance,” explained Howard. “Here is a citation; please go home.”
Howard says the county is being forced to take this action in the interest of public health.
“We’re a rural county with a rural hospital,” said Howard. “They just have limited capability on how many cases they can handle. It wouldn’t take a whole lot for them to be run-over with cases if there was an influx.”