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Tehama County sheriff makes masks optional for deputies on patrol

The sheriff in Tehama County is making masks optional for his deputies while they are out on patrol, despite the state-wide mask mandate issued by Governor Gavin Newsom.

Posted: Jul 11, 2020 7:29 AM

RED BLUFF, Calif. - The sheriff in Tehama County is making masks optional for his deputies while they are out on patrol, despite the state-wide mask mandate issued by Governor Gavin Newsom.

RELATED: California orders people to wear masks in higher-risk settings

"I think masks are very important," said Robert McMinn, a Tehama County resident.

But in a letter sent out to deputies by Sheriff Dave Hencratt, it explains that masks can "jeopardize the physical safety of [it's] his sheriff's deputies."

"If somebody feels that it's their right not to wear one who am I to judge?" said Alithia Rutherford, a Tehama County resident.

Hencratt's letter explains that masks impact "verbal and non-verbal language, reduces the sense of smell and taste, restricts breathing and causes anxiety."

"So a deputy is wearing a mask and it's hindering his job if like they were in pursuit or something like that, by all means, they should not have to wear it," McMinn said.

Another reason for not wearing masks? Masks can fog up when you're wearing glasses, according to the letter written by Hencratt.

"If you did it by the Fed OSHA or Cal OSHA standards that would be better protection because there wouldn't be the fogging of the lenses, cause you know how to get them fit right," said Clarence Hemphill, a Tehama County resident who disagrees with the sheriff's mask policy.

Deputies can still wear masks if they want to.

"I feel that we should wear the masks to protect one another because if we're healthy then we can be carriers of COVID-19," Rutherford said.

"Because then they won't bring it to you or when they forcibly stop us and interact with us," Hemphill said.

Deputies must wear masks in the Tehama County Courthouse.

Action News Now reached out to the sheriff's office for comment about this story - they refused to talk to us.

The letter also points out that the risks of wearing masks "far outweigh the risk of exposure" from the coronavirus.

California Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Confirmed Cases: 526685

Reported Deaths: 9684
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Los Angeles1958054760
Riverside38487738
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San Bernardino34017477
San Diego30516568
Kern21228151
Fresno15759138
San Joaquin11958180
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San Francisco698961
Santa Barbara652663
San Mateo5744120
Marin518076
Monterey496634
Merced458351
Kings445356
Solano380638
Sonoma311339
Madera211432
Placer195318
San Luis Obispo192616
Yolo161442
Santa Cruz11964
Butte10128
Napa9809
Sutter8406
San Benito6894
El Dorado6681
Lassen6320
Yuba5334
Shasta3979
Colusa3574
Mendocino3419
Glenn3321
Nevada3161
Tehama2461
Humboldt2454
Lake2111
Mono1451
Tuolumne1442
Amador1370
Calaveras1361
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Inyo641
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Plumas330
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