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Now battling COVID-19, Pinal County Sheriff Mark Lamb says he'd 'do things differently'

Posted at 2:36 PM, Jun 20, 2020
and last updated 2020-06-20 17:36:17-04

Pinal County Sheriff Mark Lamb is running for re-election, unopposed.

Still, he admits he had an event last Saturday in San Tan Valley, calling on residents to "pick up a yard sign" asking for votes.

It's there where Lamb says he believes he came into contact with someone who exposed him to the novel coronavirus.

"I had no idea that so many people were going to show up," said Lamb, talking with ABC15 virtually from his Pinal County home. "We did have it outside. We tried to make it in an area where everyone could maintain social distancing, but you know my feelings, I don't make people wear masks. I think that's a personal responsibility thing."

Sheriff Lamb posting video of the event to his Facebook page, where he's seen hugging residents. No one, including Lamb was seen wearing a mask. The video also showed a line of likely dozens of men and women gathered closely.

"You know we just get into these comforts, and that's not an excuse," he added. "You get into a comfort zone and you just keep doing things, and you're excited that things are getting back open."

"It's become apparent to me that there are some things that are important and we can reduce exposures that way. So yeah, I've learned some things but at the same time, I haven't changed my stance on things."

Sheriff Lamb says he still disagrees with the "stay-at-home order" issued by Governor Ducey on May 1, ordering non-essential businesses to close. He announced he would not enforce the order, and asked his deputies to solely educate business owners on the state's order, and CDC guidelines.

"Anybody who knows me knows I do care about every single life and any loss of life is important, but we are also discounting those people who have lost jobs, who are losing their families who are losing their homes who have lost their entire businesses... they matter too."

Lamb says he was tested for COVID-19 Tuesday, when he arrived at the White House to attend President Trump's signing event of a police reform bill. His test came back prior to the event, when White House staffers informed him he had tested positive, and would be unable to stand beside the president and sheriffs from across the country.

"We deal with risks and dangers every day and I think if I would sit down if I sat and thought about everything that would put my life at risk I'd be paralyzed by the fear," added Lamb. "I had made a decision that I was just going to keep doing what I do and try to do the best I can to be cognizant of other people and not be afraid about it. So, though I did not think I would get it, I also had put in my mind that I wasn't going to be afraid if it did come, and I knew that risk existed."

Sheriff Lamb says he's now working with Pinal County health officials to contact everyone he's made contact with since his Saturday campaign event.

"I don't regret doing the event," said Lamb." It's about personal responsibility... I've always said keep your game tight, and that's really what it's about. This gives me a reminder that I got to keep my game tight."