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Henderson sheriff declines to enforce ‘distancing’
Tuesday, 02 June 2020 16:27

But he urges his officers to take precautions inside jail and out on patrols

From Staff Reports

HENDERSONVILLE — The Henderson County Sheriff’s Office will not enforce the state’s social-distancing guidelines, according to a May 27 report by Asheville-based radio station Blue Ridge Public Radio (BPR).

Specifically, Henderson Sheriff Lowell Griffin said he is “frustrated by the governor throwing a blanket over the state,” BPR reported.

“The Constitution wasn’t suspended just because of this pandemic,” BPR quoted Griffin as saying. “We’ve got a lot of small-business-owners that are hurting... and these multi-trillion dollar packages that our federal government is passing is not helping at all.”  Griffin said that it should be up to individuals and local municipalities, not the state, BPR noted. 

“When you look at the numbers here in Henderson County versus our population, what I’m hearing with our healthcare centers and coming from the providers is locally, we’re not in a situation where we’re having to face any type of crisis with that,” Griffin was quoted by BPR as saying.  

Henderson has the highest number of confirmed Covid-19 cases (326 cases as of May 27) in Western North Carolina, higher than that of neighboring Buncombe (303 cases as of May 27), which has roughly double the population of Henderson. 

The state Department of Health and Human Services has reported that about half of Henderson County’s confirmed cases have been recorded in residents and staff at nursing homes.

“While the sheriff’s department is not issuing citations to individuals or businesses for failing to practice social distancing, Griffin said, officers are taking extra safety precautions inside the detention facility and out on patrols,” BPR reported. “The jail population prior to Covid in mid-February was 210. The sheriff says as of this week, it’s 146.

”Meanwhile, on a pandemic-related topic, the Hendersonville Times-News reported on May 27 that “a Henderson County nursing home currently has more reported COVID-19 deaths than any other congregate living facility in the state, according to a report released Tuesday (May 26) by the N.C. Department of Health and Human Services.

”Specifically, the HT-N noted, “The Laurels of Hendersonville has reported 23 deaths and a total of 96 cases as of the latest report. The number of deaths is the highest in the state, and the case count is the eighth highest.“

All 23 deaths are reportedly linked to residents. Of the 96 cases, 80 have been identified in residents and the other 16 in staff.“Four other facilities in the state report deaths in the 20s, the HT-N story added. “Even with the death total, the overall number of cases has not grown significantly in several weeks. In the mid-May report, The Laurels had 93 cases and 17 deaths.”


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