Sheriff says 31 employees, five inmates test positive for COVID-19

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SHELBY COUNTY, Tenn. — The Shelby County Sheriff’s Office says 31 employees and five inmates have tested positive for COVID-19.

Of those, 24 are correctional deputies, three have been deputy sheriffs, and one was a reserve officer.

Three employees were hospitalized.

“We have all our employees that wear masks and gloves each and every day. The jail is sanitized each and every day on two shifts. And even on the midnight shift the common areas are being sanitized,” said Sheriff Floyd Bonner.

“We don’t know exactly where they caught the virus. We have even instructed our detainees to wear masks today starting last night. So everyone that is housed in 201, working in 201, our vendors, our medical providers, everyone are wearing masks now.”

Bonner praised his employees saying they are doing a tremendous job despite the circumstances.

“With close to 1,900 employees we have had employees that were off on quarantine. Naturally some dealing with the virus. It causes staggering work shifts. We are trying to work smarter,” he said. “They are doing a tremendous job on the corrections side as well as law enforcement. They are doing a tremendous job in maintaining what we are asking them to do during this crisis time and this is a crisis time.”

To better manage the virus, they are steadily moving inmates out of the jail, about 500 so far, bringing the jail population down to 1,762 inmates.

“We have not had an inmate or an employee pass away. Thank God for that. But yes we have had employees as well as inmates with the virus,” Bonner said.

With some employees off work on quarantine, he says the staff is working smarter.

“Our patrol officers are taking reports by telephone when they can,” he said. “We are doing all we can do to limit the exposure.”

Bonner said over the last four weeks, crime in unincorporated Shelby County has decreased by 26 percent, although the county is seeing an increase in motor vehicle thefts.”

But deputies are on patrol, and even dealing with social distancing violations.

In fact the sheriff says they have had 29 complaints about businesses breaking the social distancing policy, and 47 calls of citizens gathering in large crowds, but they have made no arrests.

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