After mocking stay-at-home order, Merced Co. sheriff changes tune as COVID-19 cases surge

California
Atwater, in California’s Merced County, declared itself a “sanctuary city” from the state’s coronavirus stay-at-home orders. City Council members John Cale, left, Danny Ambriz, City Manager Lori Waterman and Mayor Pro Tem Brian Raymond bow their heads during the invocation at the start of a meeting on May 26. (Genaro Molina / Los Angeles Times)

Atwater, in California’s Merced County, declared itself a “sanctuary city” from the state’s coronavirus stay-at-home orders. City Council members John Cale, left, Danny Ambriz, City Manager Lori Waterman and Mayor Pro Tem Brian Raymond bow their heads during the invocation at the start of a meeting on May 26. (Genaro Molina / Los Angeles Times)

In mid-May, Merced County Sheriff Vernon Warnke had a lot to say about California’s stay-at-home orders to slow the spread of coronavirus, none of it good.

He posted a defiant message to Facebook saying he refused to enforce the state’s orders because they meant “economic slaughter” and he believed government had no right to tell him or anyone else it was too risky to get a haircut or dental checkup.

“I truly believe that Governor Newsom’s motivation is to have the majority of the citizens (and illegal residents) dependant [sic] on governments assistance so he could maintain this control once this ‘pandemic’ is declared over,” Warnke wrote.

Two months later, with cases spiking and Merced County now on the state’s coronavirus watch list, the sheriff has changed his tune: “Wear your masks, do your social distancing, wash your hands … Please take it seriously.”

Read the full story on LATimes.com.

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