Pinal County Sheriff Mark Lamb, the Arizona sheriff who refused to enforce Gov. Doug Ducey's stay-at-home order last month, has tested positive for the coronavirus. Lamb, a Republican, was tested Tuesday before he was scheduled to meet President Donald Trump at the White House and said he likely contracted the virus during a campaign event on Saturday. Lamb plans to self-quarantine for 14 days.
Lamb said in a Facebook post he was asymptomatic and was tested in Washington as part of the White House's protocol for all visitors set to meet Trump during the pandemic. After the test came back positive, Lamb said he did not meet the president.
"Unfortunately, as a law enforcement official and elected leader, we do not have the luxury of staying home. This line of work is inherently dangerous, and that is a risk we take when we sign up for the job. Today, that risk is the COVID-19 virus," Lamb wrote on Facebook. He added that the Pinal County Public Health Department was alerted of the positive test and they will track anyone he came into contact with on Saturday.
Lamb did not say if he followed any social distancing guidelines or wore a mask during his Saturday event. However, videos and photos from the event show Lamb hugging supporters and posing for photos. The sheriff and his supporters did not wear masks in the footage. Lamb is running unopposed for re-election and was first elected in 2016.
White House spokesman Judd Deere confirmed Lamb never met with Trump before testing positive, reports The Hill. Lamb was taken off the White House grounds after taking a second test, which also came back positive. "The protocols and procedures put in place by the White House Medical Unit and White House Operations worked," Deere said.
Lamb was among the Arizona sheriffs who said they would not follow Ducey's stay-at-home order because they believed it was unconstitutional. Lamb's office would not arrest anyone for violating the order. "I think people want to know that we’re going to support their constitutional rights," Lamb said in a TV interview in early May, reports the Arizona Republic. "I felt (Ducey) pushed me into a position where I needed to make our stance clear." Lamb also argued that 300 deaths were "not a significant enough number to continue to ruin the economy."
Ducey, a Republican, has since lifted many of the restrictions in Arizona, which has since seen the number of coronavirus cases climb. On Thursday, a record number of 2,519 new cases were reported. Ducey said Wednesday he would make some changes to policies because of the rise, including allowing local governments to enforce mask policies. However, he did not issue a statewide mask rule, despite pressure to do so, reports the Republic.