By WILLIAM MANSELL, ABC News
(NEW YORK) — A pandemic of the novel coronavirus has now killed more than 360,000 people worldwide.
Over 5.9 million people across the globe have been diagnosed with COVID-19, the disease caused by the new respiratory virus, according to data compiled by the Center for Systems Science and Engineering at Johns Hopkins University. The actual numbers are believed to be much higher due to testing shortages, many unreported cases and suspicions that some governments are hiding the scope of their nations’ outbreaks.
The United States is the world’s worst-affected country, with over 1.7 million diagnosed cases and at least 101,617 deaths.
Here’s how the news is developing Friday. All times Eastern:
5:33 a.m.: California sheriff says officers won’t enforce coronavirus public health orders
Sonoma County Sheriff Mark Essick penned a letter to residents saying he is directing his department to not enforce the public health order, saying the blanket order is crushing the community.
In this letter, Essick said the many residents and business owners have told him that the county’s health orders are far more strict than neighboring communities and California Gov. Gavin Newsom’s statewide orders. He also said that the county’s coronavirus cases continue to decline.
“Over the last 10 weeks we have learned a lot and made significant progress. The curve has been flattened; hospitals were not overrun with patients; we have dramatically increased testing which verified the infection rate in Sonoma County is under control and decreasing. Yet we continue to see successive Public Health Orders that contain inconsistent restrictions on business and personal activities without explanation,” Essick wrote. “Based on what we have learned, now is the time to move to a risk-based system and move beyond blanket orders that are crushing our community.”
He says he’s asked, and not heard from, public health officials about why the restrictive measures remain despite the community having favorable COVID-19 numbers. To continue to enforce these measures, he said, would be a disservice to the county’s residents.
The Sonoma County Sheriff’s Office, he said, will stop enforcing local coronavirus regulations as of June 1.
“As your elected Sheriff, I can no longer in good conscience continue to enforce Sonoma County Public Health Orders, without explanation, that criminalize otherwise lawful business and personal behavior,” Essick’s letter said.
California has more than 103,000 diagnosed cases and at least 3,993 deaths.
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