What's Impact Of Covid Rules? Summit County Sheriff Justin Martinez Responds

Dec 15, 2020

Credit Summit County Sheriff Justin Martinez

The crisis of surging Covid cases is still making headlines in Utah, and a mask order is now in effect state-wide.
But Summit County Sheriff Justin Martinez said that at this time, his department isn’t burdened with calls to be a Mask-Mandate Enforcer.  

Sheriff Martinez, speaking to Randy Barton during the Local View, said a mask mandate has been in place in Summit County since the summer, so they haven’t had to change their operations.
He said the business community has stepped up to help make the mask order work.
We asked him if Dispatch is getting calls from locals pointing a finger at neighbors who aren’t wearing masks or not distancing.

“We’re getting some, but it’s not as widespread as you might think.   I thought we’d get more.   And I think it’s really because the businesses in large part have been the ones that have been driving this.   Because without the business support and them mandating masks be worn in their business and their staff to wear em, that’s really where the rubber hits the road.  We can look at events and such.  But people are wearing their masks when they go into restaurants, when they go into Whole Foods, or they go into Home Depot.  Those businesses are requiring people to wear masks.   And that’s what’s really, I think, keeping those calls down.”
The sheriff also said he took a hard line to avoid any outbreaks among inmates at the County Jail.     He said he changed the customary practice.

“People could go in and out of the facility.   I basically locked it down.   I mean, it’s a locked-down facility, but I locked it down, and excluded everybody, anybody and everybody that had no pertinent business being back in the jail, to not be back there.  What we’ve done is we’ve taken individuals that are being booked in, and we’ve isolated them for what would be considered the 14-day isolation.   And then, once we feel they’ve gone through that 14 days, and they don’t have any symptoms, then we can release them into the general population.  So we’ve done some really progressive things in the Summit County jail.   To this point, we have not had one outbreak.”
Sheriff Martinez added that a couple of deputies were infected during their days off, but that didn’t spread to other department staff or to jail inmates.
Meanwhile, the ski season has started, but the Sheriff said his officers haven’t seen a lot of activity, in particular during the late-night hours.

“I think people are trying to figure out, what does the ski season look like.   And unfortunately, we don’t have the snow either.   So we’re not having a big influence of people coming into Summit County.  We do have people on the ski lifts, but there’s just not that many runs open.  Sundance isn’t going to be in town.   So it’s really interesting this year that what would be the beginning of our ski season, and people starting to come into Park City and Summit County—we’re not seeing as great of numbers.  And therefore, I think the call volume is a little bit down at night.   So, yeah, there’s maybe two or three cars rolling around at night.”
The big news last week was about Covid vaccines becoming available soon.     The Sheriff said the first priority for shots will be health-care workers.    
He said that First Responders like police and emergency personnel will receive the vaccines soon, but they’re not quite first in line.

“We’re essential personnel, and we’re front-line First Responders.  But not every single call that we go on is a Covid-related incident.  So although we have higher exposure than other individuals, we don’t have as high of an exposure as our first-line nurses and doctors and medical-care people.”
Summit County Sheriff Justin Martinez.

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