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August 14, 2020

Monterey County approves fines for face covering violations as Covid-19 cases continue to rise

Latest report shows total of 4,457 residents have tested positive countywide

MONTEREY COUNTY — Monterey County has joined with local cities, including King City, Soledad and Gonzales, in approving fines for face covering violations.

On July 28, the Monterey County Board of Supervisors unanimously approved an ordinance, effective immediately, allowing citations to be given to those who violate the state’s face covering health order in unincorporated areas of the county.

“Monterey County’s Health Officer issued a face covering order in April and the State Department of Public Health issued guidance for face coverings in June, but enforcement of these orders remains a challenge,” according to a county news release Tuesday.

Fines start at $100 for the first offense, $200 for a second offense and $500 for subsequent violations. 

“Repeated violations could also be prosecuted as a misdemeanor in the discretion of the District Attorney,” the release continued. “People given a citation have the option to pay the fine or appeal the citation and have a hearing before an administrative law judge.”

The new ordinance also allows the county to hire temporary workers as needed to enforce the health order.

Tuesday’s announcement comes as the Cities of King City, Soledad and Gonzales all approved their own ordinances in the past week establishing a process for issuing citations to those who disregard the requirement of wearing face masks or coverings while at work or in public to help prevent further spread of Covid-19.

Those fines range from $100 to as much as $1,000 in some cases.

“Most of the community has responded extremely well to the changes required during this difficult time and the City is very appreciative, but we need to continue to improve since cases continue to increase,” said Gonzales City Manager René Mendez.

Cases on the rise

Monterey County, which is still under shelter-in-place orders, remains on the state of California’s Covid-19 county data monitoring watch list following the recent surge of Covid-19 cases and hospitalizations among residents in the area.

As of Thursday, the total number of residents who have tested positive for Covid-19 in Monterey County has increased to 4,457, up 169 from the previous day, according to the latest data from Monterey County Health Department.

Thursday’s report shows a total of 2,714 residents who have recovered from the respiratory disease, an increase of 83 from yesterday.

Five more deaths, however, were reported in the past week. There have now been 26 deaths related to Covid-19 in Monterey County as of July 30.

The majority of those infected with Covid-19 are from the Salinas area (2,578), with the others from South County (1,123), North County (366) and the Peninsula and Big Sur area (390), according to the most recent data.

Within South County, the numbers have been broken down by zip code. Greenfield (93927) has the most cases with 348, followed by King City (93930) with 341, Soledad (93960) with 278, Gonzales (93926) with 116 and Chualar (93925) with 16. Twenty-four cases are classified as “other” in South County.

A cumulative total of 274 residents have been hospitalized due to the virus, 53 of whom are active hospitalizations with 17 in the intensive care unit (ICU), as of Thursday’s latest report.

“When you go out, wear a face covering, keep physical distance and wash your hands,” said Dr. Sonia Angell, State Health Officer and Director of the California Department of Public Health, in a previous news release. “The decisions we make today will determine how Covid-19 impacts our communities and families tomorrow.”

Ryan Cronk
Ryan Cronk
Ryan Cronk is the managing editor for King City Rustler and Salinas Valley Tribune, a unified publication of Greenfield News, Soledad Bee and Gonzales Tribune. He covers education, government and general news for King City and occasionally for the surrounding communities in South Monterey County.
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