An Arlington doctor is facing federal charges after a grand jury indicted her for the illicit distribution of opioid pills.
Dr. Kirsten Ball is facing nearly a dozen counts of charges related to oxycodone distribution. Federal prosecutors say she and her office manager, who was convicted and sentenced last year, conspired to dispense “vast quantities of oxycodone to her patients — contrary to ordinary standards of medical care.”
One patient received prescriptions for “as many as 360 oxycodone 30-mg tablets per month,” while another received a prescription to treat “long-term pain” while they were performing “manual labor on Ball’s home,” according to a press release.
The charges potentially could land Ball, 68, in prison for decades. Despite the allegations, reviews of her care on a doctor rating website are generally positive.
“Very caring, affirmative, straight forward yet, gentle approach to health care,” wrote one patient. “If you need a professional physician, with a comforting approach, Dr. Ball is a great choice!”
Arlington has been hard hit by the national opioid crisis. There were more than 70 fatal opioid overdoses here between 2015 and 2020, according to Arlington County Police Department statistics. The crisis has also infiltrated local schools, with the fatal in-school overdose of a Wakefield High School student this year helping to spur action by Arlington County and Arlington Public Schools.
The press release about the indictment is below.
A federal grand jury returned an indictment this week charging an Arlington doctor with distributing tens of thousands of oxycodone pills for almost a decade for no legitimate medical reason.
According to allegations in the indictment, Kirsten Van Steenberg Ball, 68, was a primary care physician who operated a medical practice out of her home in Arlington. Ball allegedly conspired with her office manager to shield the fact that she was dispensing vast quantities of oxycodone to her patients—contrary to ordinary standards of medical care—from law enforcement and regulatory authorities.
The indictment alleges that Ball’s office manager, Candie Marie Calix, 40, of Front Royal, used an alias to disguise the fact that Calix was, herself, a patient of Ball. According to the indictment, Ball allegedly prescribed her office manager approximately 50,000 oxycodone pills over a period of approximately 10 years.
The indictment further alleges that the Virginia Department of Health Professions (DHP) investigated Ball twice: once in 2015 and once in 2021. Despite the two investigations, Ball did not change her prescribing practices. According to the indictment, examples of Ball’s prescriptions include the following:
- Prescribing a patient as many as 360 oxycodone 30-mg tablets per month;
- Prescribing similarly high quantities of oxycodone to close family members;
- Paying a patient to perform manual labor on Ball’s home while concurrently prescribing the patient oxycodone, ostensibly for long-term pain;
- Loaning a patient $40,000 while concurrently prescribing the patient oxycodone;
- Continuing to prescribe oxycodone to patients after they failed drug screens.
Ball is charged with one count of conspiracy to distribute oxycodone, and 21 counts of distribution of oxycodone. If convicted, she faces a maximum penalty of 20 years in prison on each count. Actual sentences for federal crimes are typically less than the maximum penalties. A federal district court judge will determine any sentence after taking into account the U.S. Sentencing Guidelines and other statutory factors.
Calix was sentenced to seven years in prison on September 28, 2022, for conspiring to distribute oxycodone.
Jessica D. Aber, U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of Virginia, and Wayne A. Jacobs, Special Agent in Charge of the FBI Washington Field Office Criminal Division, made the announcement.
Assistant U.S. Attorney Katherine E. Rumbaugh is prosecuting the case.
There’s another new urgent care clinic opening, this time in Rosslyn.
Allcare is opening a new urgent care clinic on Wilson Blvd, the company confirmed to ARLnow.
It will be located at the corner of N. Pierce Street and across the road from Fire Station 10. It’s filling a long-vacant space once occupied by Piola Pizzeria, which closed four years ago.
This will be the company’s third urgent care clinic in Arlington, with others in Ballston and Courthouse. The latter is only half a mile from the new one in Rosslyn.
A company spokesperson was not able to provide information about when the clinic might open or why the choice was made to have two clinics so close together.
The spokesperson did confirm, though, that the hours will be the same as the other Arlington clinics: 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. on weekdays and 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. on weekends.
The location is not yet listed on Allcare’s website.
At least two more clinics are preparing to open in Arlington in the coming months, for both humans and animals.
NOVA Patient Care is opening a second Arlington location, in a former restaurant space at Pentagon Row. Meanwhile, an urgent care clinic for pets is fetching an early spring opening in Buckingham.
A new urgent care clinic is opening in Pentagon City, filling a space that once served Italian sandwiches.
Another location of NOVA Patient Care is coming to 1301 S. Joyce Street at Westpost, the shopping center in Pentagon City formerly known at Pentagon Row. The urgent and primary care clinic provides immediate daytime care, with hours currently planned to be from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m.
This will be the second Arlington location of the urgent care clinic, with the other just two miles away on S. Bell Street in Crystal City. It will be the company’s eighth clinic overall in Northern Virginia.
No word yet on when it might open, in the storefront next to Walgreens. ARLnow has reached out to both the clinic and Westpost for a timeline but has yet to hear back as of publication.
NOVA Patient Care is opening in the former location of Napoli Salumeria, an Italian market that closed about a year ago and was only open for just over a year. The urgent care appears to be retaining the distinctive bright blue doors and awning that marked the entrance of a spot that formerly served up focaccias and sandwiches.
Elsewhere at Westpost, a once-buzzy sandwich spot is opening inside of the “cube.” Local chef Tim Ma is reviving his “Chase the Submarine” concept inside the stand-alone space that housed Bread & Water until this past fall. It’s expected to open in the next few weeks.
(Updated at 6 p.m.) A new urgent care for animals is opening this spring in Buckingham.
Urgent Animal Care of Arlington at 249 N. Glebe Road is aiming to open its doors “early April,” co-owner Dr. Kayleen Gloor told ARLnow via email. That is pushed back a bit from the hoped-for “winter 2023” opening.
It’s moving into a space that was formerly occupied by a branch of SunTrust Bank, which closed in 2019. In terms of the art deco neon signage the shopping center is known for, Gloor said the clinic’s signage “will follow all regulations and requirements of the shopping center and will conform.”
The veterinarian urgent care comes from the team behind Clarendon Animal Care, which has locations in Clarendon, on 10th Street N., and on Columbia Pike.
The urgent care will be open 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. on weekdays and until 6 p.m. on weekends, we’re told.
This is Gloor and co-owner Dr. Natasha Ungerer’s first “daytime urgent care,” which is different than an emergency veterinary clinic.
Like for humans, urgent care is intended for animal patients in need of immediate care that does not rise to the level of an emergency situation. That could include limping, rashes, minor vomiting or diarrhea, ear infections, or coughing, per a graphic that the clinic has on its website.
Emergencies might include difficulty breathing, not eating or drinking for two days, seizures, and serious trauma. The closest emergency veterinary clinics to Arlington are located in Fairfax County. There are several existing pet urgent cares in Arlington, including one in Clarendon.
Gloor said the reason they choose N. Glebe Road in the Buckingham neighborhood is due to the proximity to their other pet-centric businesses as well as “zoning regulations within the county.”
Ballston Quarter has a 50,000-square-foot vacancy problem.
The redeveloped mall at 4238 Wilson Blvd is home to a rotating roster of restaurants, as well as clothing stores, pet facilities, eye doctors, gaming experiences and other retail businesses, as well as an attached office building and the MedStar Capitals Iceplex.
But filling the retail roster has not been smooth sailing, writes land use attorney Kedrick Whitmore in a letter to the county on behalf of Brookfield Properties, which owns the mall.
Reading the changing economic winds, Brookfield Properties is looking to tack.
During the Arlington County Board meeting this weekend, the Board is slated to review the property owner’s request to lease about 28,000 square feet of second-floor retail space to a medical tenant. This tenant — which was not named — would provide primary care, ear, nose, and throat and eyes and vision specialists, speech therapy and other medical care, according to a staff report.
“Approving this application would help resolve the Project’s significant, systemic leasing challenges and creatively reposition the Mall,” Whitmore writes in the letter, filed last month. “The Applicant envisions a holistic and mutually beneficial relationship between potential medical offices and the local retail and entertainment market.”
New medical offices benefit those living and working in the heart of Ballston, and would result in more patients patronizing local businesses, Whitmore said.
Although current zoning permits office conversions by-right, the mall is governed by a retail plan that requires Brookfield to file a site plan amendment to make the change.
The mall had struggled for years, due to its large size and age, before its redevelopment was approved, with the goal of improving its performance against newer counterparts in the region. The work wrapped up at the end of 2018.
Around the same time, a county retail plan from 2015 recommended pulling storefronts to the street, creating outdoor activity and attractions, and making interior renovations to encourage activity there. The plan also called for “flexibility and creativity” to encourage these changes.
Per the county report, county staff looked over the retail plan and “understand[s] the challenges in leasing second floor internal spaces in a shifting retail market and that these spaces require greater flexibility in terms of permitted uses.”
This request is not out of the blue, either. The report adds that “even at project inception, office tenancy was viewed as a likely leasing option.”
Not everyone agrees with this assessment. The Ballston-Virginia Square Civic Association said it does not believe the change aligns with the retail plan, but should it pass anyway, it suggested the medical provider “target underserved, lower income communities which would benefit most from the easy access to public transportation.”
The mall recently approved another non-retail tenant, which agreed to lease a large space inside the mall: Grace Community Church. Still, tenants are cycling in and out, as there are fewer office workers from the nearby buildings visiting due to the rise of remote work, not to mention the convenience of online shopping.
An Arlington doctor’s office was the hub of a “decade-long oxycodone distribution network,” federal prosecutors say.
A Front Royal woman who authorities say was the “ringleader” of the scheme, which prescribed tens of thousands of pills between 2012 and 2022, pleaded guilty Monday. Candie Marie Calix, 40, could face up to 20 years in prison at her scheduled sentencing on September 28.
Two co-conspirators in the opioid prescription ring, both from Front Royal, previously pleaded guilty and are also set to be sentenced in September.
The Arlington physician for whom Calix “nominally worked as an office manager” was not named and it’s unclear whether they will face charges or other disciplinary action. The case is being handled by the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of Virginia.
The Arlington County Police Department reported 92 opioid overdoses in 2021, including 28 that resulted in death.
More from a U.S. Dept. of Justice press release, below.
A Front Royal woman pleaded guilty today to being the ringleader of a decade-long oxycodone distribution network, sourcing high-dosage oxycodone pills from a doctor in Arlington.
According to court documents, Candie Marie Calix, 40, nominally worked as an office manager for a physician in Arlington, referred to in court records as Doctor-1. Between 2012 and 2022, Doctor-1 prescribed Calix nearly 40,000 oxycodone 30-mg pills and more than 9,000 oxycodone 15-mg pills. Doctor-1 also prescribed similar quantities of oxycodone 30-mg and 15-mg pills to Calix’s relatives, including her mother, grandparents, great-grandmother, brother, and husband. These quantities were far in excess of therapeutic doses, and Calix personally distributed or directed others to distribute most of the pills that Doctor-1 prescribed to Calix and her family members.
Calix functioned as the gatekeeper to Doctor-1; she recruited individuals she knew from around Front Royal to be “patients” of Doctor-1 and obtain large quantities of oxycodone. These “patients,” in turn, typically kicked back the oxycodone 30-mg pills they were prescribed to Calix to redistribute, and kept the oxycodone 15-mg pills for their own use. Calix recruited at least 12 individuals to be “patients” of Doctor-1.
Calix and her co-conspirators used coded language to refer to the pills they distributed, for example, referring to oxycodone 30-mg pills as “tickets,” “blueberries,” or “muffins.” The co-conspirators typically sold oxycodone 30-mg pills at a cost of $25 per pill, and over the course of the conspiracy, generated at least $5,000 per month in profits.
Two of Calix’s co-conspirators, Kendall Sovereign, 56, and Jessica Talbott, 35, both of Front Royal, also pleaded guilty to their involvement in the conspiracy. Sovereign and Talbott are both scheduled to be sentenced on September 21.
Calix is scheduled to be sentenced on September 28. She faces a maximum penalty of 20 years in prison. Actual sentences for federal crimes are typically less than the maximum penalties. A federal district court judge will determine any sentence after taking into account the U.S. Sentencing Guidelines and other statutory factors.
Jessica D. Aber, U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of Virginia, and Wayne A. Jacobs, Special Agent in Charge of the FBI Washington Field Office Criminal Division, made the announcement after Senior U.S. District Judge Anthony J. Trenga accepted the plea.
Assistant U.S. Attorney Katherine E. Rumbaugh is prosecuting the case.
Another Malfunctioning Walk Signal — Just over a week after this, another reported crosswalk signal issue: “Instead of telling you when it’s safe to cross the street, the walk signs in Crystal City, VA are just repeating ‘CHANGE PASSWORD’. Something’s gone terribly wrong here.” [Twitter]
School Board Meeting Was Mostly Maskless — “For those playing the ‘how many Arlington School Board members will go mask-free at the first board meeting after requirements were lifted?’ home game, the winners were those who had put their money on four out of five. Board members David Priddy, Cristina Diaz-Torres, Reid Goldstein and chairman Barbara Kanninen were maskless at the March 10 meeting, as was Superintendent Francisco Durán. School Board member Mary Kadera kept her mask affixed.” [Sun Gazette]
Survey Work on GW Parkway — ” A $161 million ‘complete rehabilitation‘ of the northern section of the George Washington Memorial Parkway is being planned… Through Friday, March 18, there will be single-lane closures along the northern section of the George Washington Memorial Parkway for bridge surveys. Drivers should proceed with caution in these areas and consider using alternate routes, according to an NPS alert.” [WUSA 9]
Arlington Doc Helping Refugees — “An Arlington doctor is not only battling the pandemic in Northern Virginia, but he also travels across international borders to help those in need. The current refugee crisis that began with Afghans in 2021, now includes Ukrainians facing a similar fate of displacement and an uncertain future. For three years before COVID-19 spread across the globe, Dr. Ali Karim helped build wells in Nigeria, aided orphans and women in Kabul, Afghanistan and filmed a documentary about his solo journey.” [WJLA]
Days Inn Redevelopment Update — “The plans to replace the Days Inn at 2201 Arlington Boulevard with 262 multi-family units and around 3,000 square feet of retail were filed with Arlington County last week. The eight-story project will also have surface and underground parking. STUDIOS Architecture designed the building.” [Urban Turf]
Social Sports Return to Crystal City — “Sand Volleyball is BACK in National Landing starting this May with a few fun new additions – Bocce and Corn Hole!” [Twitter]
Yes, It’s Getting Windier — “Our analysis of wind data shows that the strongest gusts have become more frequent recently. Last year featured more big wind gusts than any recent year, a trend that has continued into this year. Wind advisories, issued by the National Weather Service when gusts are expected to top 45 mph, have also been on the increase since the mid-2000s.” [Capital Weather Gang]
It’s Tuesday — Mostly cloudy throughout the day. High of 66 and low of 40. Sunrise at 7:21 am and sunset at 7:17 pm. [Weather.gov]
(Updated at 11:10 a.m.) After 80 years operating near Arlington Ridge, Anderson Orthopaedic Clinic is moving into a new office in Shirlington.
The clinic signed a lease for a new, 25,000-square foot space at 2800 Shirlington Road, an office building just over a mile as the crow flies from its current location at 2445 Army Navy Drive.
Interior construction is scheduled to start this month and Anderson Clinic aims to debut its new space in October.
Leaders say the new space will allow the practice to add more doctors and providers, provide physical therapy services and establish an orthopedic urgent care clinic. It will serve more than 35,000 patients a year — more than the clinic’s three other locations in Fairfax, Lorton and Mount Vernon Hospital saw combined in 2021.
“This is a huge decision to move,” said Dr. C. “Andy” Anderson Engh, Jr., adding that it’s been in the works for a year and a half. “This is space that is considerably larger than what we have and will allow us to grow and improve our services… We can really build it out exactly as we want so that it can be a pleasant, open space for our patients, and efficient for staff working there.”
He also wants the office to be more accessible to Arlington and Alexandria patients, whose 20-minute commutes often take double that time due to congestion.
“We want to add additional offices to make our doctors more accessible in this region,” he said.
Polio specialist Dr. Otto Anderson Engh purchased the property on which the current clinic stands and founded the practice in 1938. He passed on stewardship of the practice and ownership of the land to his two sons, Drs. Gerard “Jerry” and Charles Anderson Engh, whose son is Andy.
The Enghs have made important contributions to orthopedic care in Arlington and nationally, Andy says. His grandfather Otto conducted tendon transfers for children crippled by polio and developed programs for these children through Arlington County and hospitals in the region. After a vaccine was developed that effectively eliminated polio, the clinic began caring for a surge of workers who were injured while building up Arlington and D.C.
In the 1970s, under Jerry and Charles’ leadership, the practice evolved into a group of specialists, whose specialties ranged from sports medicine to joint replacements.
“My uncle was instrumental early on in sports medicine in getting athletic trainers in the high schools in the early 70s,” Andy said. “He then moved on to be a pioneer in knee replacements, while my father was a pioneer in hip replacements. He was one of two in the area with a license to do cement hip replacements, and he developed the cement-less replacements that now comprise 93% of the replacements in the U.S.”
That growth will continue in the new office space. The third-generation doctor credits the expansion to a partnership with M2 Orthopedics, which handles the administrative side of business so that the physicians can focus on serving patients.
Andy said his father and uncle still own the property on which the current clinic, built in the 1980s, stands.
For now, they don’t have plans to redevelop the office building, which currently houses, among other medical services, a physical therapy group and a dialysis clinic.
Virginia Hospital Center has opened a new doctors’ office in south Arlington near Columbia Pike.
Located at 950 S. George Mason Drive, the new location offers primary, family, and OB/GYN care. It’s located in Centro, a recently-built apartment development that also includes a Harris Teeter, a veterinarian’s office, and all-in-one optometry and dental practice.
The office opened earlier this month.
“Virginia Hospital Center is committed to making quality healthcare accessible to everyone in our community,” writes Adrian Stanton, Vice President of Business Development & Community Relations at Virginia Hospital Center. “Opening the new VHC Physician Group office in South Arlington provides convenient access to personalized care, allowing patients who may have previously faced barriers due to distance or lack of transportation to receive treatment in their own neighborhood.”
The Columbia Pike corridor, long-considered one of the more affordable areas to live in the county, is generally underserved in terms of medical care. The new location is the only Virginia Hospital Center primary or OB/GYN care office in the 22204 zip code.
Improving maternal care has also become a focus point nationally as well as in Virginia. The US ranks last among industrialized countries in maternal mortality rate.
“Because of the intimate nature of OB/GYN care, building a close relationship with your provider is especially important,” writes Stanton. “OB patients, in particular, may have to make frequent visits to their physician’s office. Bringing a new office to South Arlington allows patients in the area improved flexibility for scheduling appointments, making it easier than ever for them to receive top-quality care.”
Additionally, having multiple types of care, particularly family-related care, in one location greatly improves convenience.
“Providing a variety of services in one location allows for incredible continuity of care, which has tremendous health benefits for the patient,” writes Stanton. “Additionally, providing primary, family, and OB/GYN services in a centralized location allows families the flexibility to schedule multiple appointments in one day — greatly reducing the barriers that can sometimes prevent patients from seeking critical medical care.”
The location currently offers in-person as well as telehealth appointments.
For Dr. Andrew Wu, summertime normally means he’ll see more kids with sunburns, insect bites, poison ivy, stomach viruses and dehydration — all related to being outside.
But this summer, the pediatrician affiliated with Virginia Hospital Center said he and his colleagues are seeing an uncharacteristic number of respiratory viral illnesses unrelated to COVID-19. Specifically, doctors are seeing “a sharp uptick” in the number of cases of the common cold, croup and respiratory syncytial virus, or RSV, he said.
The trend is playing out elsewhere, particularly in the South and Southwest, as COVID-19 cases recede, the Washington Post recently reported. In Arlington, where nearly 61% of adults are fully vaccinated, the seven-day average of net coronavirus cases is zero, according to the Virginia Dept. of Health.
Earlier this month, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention issued an advisory alerting clinicians and caregivers and encouraging broader testing for RSV, which causes cold-like symptoms but can lead to bronchial infections and pneumonia in children younger than one.
These illnesses typically peak in the fall and winter when children return inside and to school, Wu said. Last year and into this spring, however, many pediatricians saw few cases of the flu, RSV and the common cold. While this summer surge is likely a side effect of the pandemic, he says families ought not to worry — provided their kids are vaccinated against the more serious, and potentially lethal, bacterial and viral illnesses.
“Fitting the trend this past year and a half, during which nothing has been typical, respiratory virus season seems to have come out of hibernation about six months late,” he said. “I suspect that the current out-of-season increase stems largely from two factors: Many virus-naive children coming out of isolation and rejoining the larger world in daycares and preschools, and the general loosening of social restrictions by public health officials.”
So, what should parents do to protect their children?
Wu, a parent himself, said he empathizes with parents who are worried about sending their children back to preschool and daycare, knowing that their child will likely develop a few respiratory illnesses in the first couple of months.
But he encouraged parents to send their kids to daycare or preschool anyway — and not just for the benefits of quickening development, increasing socialization and improving emotional skills.
“I tend to think of introduction to childcare the same way we approach food allergies. Namely, early introduction is better than late introduction, but not too early,” he said. “While no one wishes illness on a child, these illnesses tend to be minor and provide opportunity for a child’s immune system to do what it was designed to do: fight infection.”
Extending the analogy, Wu said the longer that parents voluntarily withhold potentially allergenic foods from their young children, such as peanuts, the more likely the child is to develop an allergy to that particular food.
“A child’s immune system could become dysregulated if not provided enough opportunities to fight infection, and could respond by developing moderate to severe allergies or autoimmune conditions,” he said.
Arlington County Public Health Department spokeswoman Jessica Baxter said “it’s not surprising” to see a rise in the common cold, with masks coming off and gatherings and travel increasing the spread of germs.
She also advised making sure kids and adults are up to date on recommended vaccines, and taking other basic preventative measures.
“We encourage Arlington residents to practice healthy habits that prevent the spread of all diseases — such as washing your hands often, staying away from others when sick, and covering coughs and sneezes,” she said.
Crowding on sidewalks, which has occurred outside Arlington bars on recent weekends, has significant potential to spread the coronavirus, according to local infectious disease experts.
Confirming fears held by county officials and residents, infectious disease specialists at Virginia Hospital Center and George Mason University said the lack of physical distancing in these crowds, varying levels of mask wearing and the social environment makes the risk of coronavirus spread high.
Sidewalk crowds have become an increasing common sight during Arlington’s weekend nightlife, due to capacity restrictions inside venues. Long lines have formed outside spots like The Lot and Whitlow’s in Clarendon, leading some to fret about the implications on social media.
According to Dr. Kathryn Jacobsen, a professor of global health and epidemiology at George Mason University, pedestrians out for a stroll are not likely to contract the disease, but those standing in a crowd shirking the ordinance are in greater danger.
“There is little risk of infection if two people briefly cross paths walking in opposite directions on a sidewalk, but there is a high risk of the infection spreading if dozens or hundreds of people crowd together at a bar or club for several hours and one patron has coronavirus infection,” Jacobsen said. “That’s how we get superspreader events.”
Photos of the lines and crowds also show only a limited number of people wearing masks. While an exposed face allows for infectious droplets to travel unimpeded, Dr. Amira Roess, also a professor of global health and epidemiology at George Mason University, said prolonged time spent not physically distant is unsafe even with masks.
“Standing in line with masks on less than six feet apart from individuals outside of your family or closed social circle for more than 15 minutes is considered an exposure and these types of exposures should be avoided,” Roess said.
The experts all said being outside is safer than indoors, but there are still risks that customers at restaurants and bars with outdoor seating often underestimate.
Dr. Jennifer Primeggia, a Fellow of the Infectious Disease Society of America and specialist in the Virginia Hospital Center Physician Group, said virus particles can still travel within compact outside seating.
“Generally, being outdoors is safer than being indoors because there is more clean air for the droplets to disperse,” Primeggia said. “There is still a risk of exposure to infectious particles when social distancing is not practiced. Additionally, multiple studies have shown that factors such as wind can disperse particles further than six feet.”
With local coronavirus cases on the rise, the Arlington County Board approved an emergency ordinance two weeks ago “prohibiting groups of more than three people from congregating on streets and sidewalks posted with the restrictions, and requiring pedestrians to maintain at least six feet of physical separation from others on the posted streets and sidewalks.”
The ordinance has gotten pushback, even among those who believe such crowding poses a health danger.
The law “seems well-intentioned but flawed,” Arlington Transportation Commission Chair Chris Slatt wrote last week, adding that it “appears to criminalize common behaviors.” The Arlington Chamber of Commerce also penned a letter opposing it, saying that the ordinance was “constructed hastily, leading to confusion and missed opportunities to develop a better policy.” Others pointed out that it has the potential to prevent families from walking down the street and to lead to inequitable enforcement.
Nonetheless, the county’s new ordinance is seen by the experts as a step in the right direction to reducing disease spread, so long as it is obeyed and succeeds in breaking up the crowds.
“This ordinance highlights the importance of social distancing and wearing masks even outdoors,” Roess said. “However, if this ordinance is not enforced then it will not be effective.”
The police department plans to begin issuing violations and fines that are not to exceed $100 following a public education campaign about the ordinance and the posting of signs, the county said shortly after it passed..
Photo courtesy Brad Haywood