California county sheriff says he won't enforce Newsom's coronavirus mask order

The sheriff's office for Sacramento County announced on Friday that it will not enforce Gov. Gavin Newsom's coronavirus order, which requires residents to wear masks or facial coverings while they are out in public.

The announcement came just one day after Newsom, a Democrat, issued the statewide order mandating the use of facemasks.

In a statement posted to Facebook, the sheriff’s office said residents should be “exercising safe practices” in the face of COVID-19, including the use of masks, but it also deemed the idea of enforcement to be “inappropriate,” because it would criminalize average Americans for a relatively small infraction.

“Due to the minor nature of the offense, the potential for negative outcomes during enforcement encounters, and anticipating the various ways in which the order may be violated, it would be inappropriate for deputies to criminally enforce the Governor’s mandate,” Sheriff Scott Jones' statement read.

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Deputies will instead work “in an educational capacity," alongside health officials, to avoid any further escalation between bystanders and law enforcement.

Jones added, however, that employees will comply with the governor's order as much as is pragmatically possible.

"As for the Sheriff's Office and its employees, we will comply with the Governor's mask recommendations to the extent feasible," the message concluded.

Newsom said in his initial statement that, "Science shows that face coverings and masks work,” and “they are critical to keeping those who are around you safe, keeping businesses open and restarting our economy.”

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This news comes as California gets ready to broadly reopen the state economy. People can now shop, dine in at restaurants, get their hair done and go to church in most counties.

Overall there have been 157,000 reported cases of coronavirus in the state and more than 5,200 deaths, as of Thursday.

Fox News' Andrew O'Reilly and The Associated Press contributed to this report