Snohomish County sheriff won’t enforce stay-at-home order

The sheriff of Snohomish County says he won’t enforce Gov. Jay Inslee’s stay-at-home order to slow the spread of the coronavirus, saying it violates people’s constitutional rights.

Snohomish County Sheriff Adam Fortney announced his position on Facebook Tuesday night, following a statewide address by Inslee in which the governor said the state will not be able to lift many of the stay-at-home restrictions implemented to fight the coronavirus by May 4.

That's the date through which the current directive is currently in place -- but Inslee hopes health modeling in the coming days will allow resumption of some activities.

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In the post, Fortney said Inslee “has no plan,” adding, “I can no longer stay silent as I’m not even sure he knows what he is doing or knows what struggles Washingtonian’s face right now.”

Fortney’s post came a day after Franklin County Sheriff J.D. Raymond sent a letter to county residents saying he also wouldn’t enforce the stay at home order.

Pressure has continued to grow on Inslee to reopen the state’s economy. Thousands gathered in Olympia on Sunday to protest the stay-at-home order.

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Fortney said COVID-19 is “very real” and said the appropriate measures need to be taken to protect vulnerable populations.

However, he added, “I am worried about the economy and I am worried about Washingtonians that need to make a living for their family.”

Fortney said any shutdowns related to the coronavirus should be “all or nothing” adding, “The government should not be picking winners or losers when it comes to being able to make an income for your family.”

Washington State Attorney General Bob Ferguson responded to Fortney’s post Wednesday afternoon on Twitter.

“Sheriff Fortney does not get to decide what is constitutional. That is up to the courts. I plan to follow up directly with Sheriff Fortney,” Ferguson said.

>> Who’s working, what businesses are open during stay-at-home order

Through Monday night, the Washington State Department of Health reported 99 deaths among 2,152 confirmed cases in Snohomish County.

Fortney said he believes small businesses and independent contractors are able to operate with the same safety measures in place that essential business have implemented.

“As I have previously stated, I have not carried out any enforcement for the current a stay-at-home order,” Fortney said.

Information from The Associated Press is included in this report