Shelby County jail employee who tested positive for COVID-19 dies

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SHELBY COUNTY, Tenn. — A Shelby County Sheriff’s Office employee who tested positive for COVID-19 has died.

The sheriff’s office did not identify the employee, but said he had not been at work since last week. This is the first COVID-19 death within the sheriff’s department.

Family identified him to WREG as Jeremy Smith, who worked with detainees at the Shelby County Jail.

The sheriff’s department said the jailer was one of the 31 employees who the sheriff said last week had tested positive for COVID-19.

Twenty-four of those are correctional deputies. Three have been deputies and one reserve officer. As of Tuesday morning, three employees are hospitalized.

But the department said he was not among the three hospitalized workers. They are trying to determine when Jeremy Smith went to the hospital.

Sheriff Floyd Bonner talked last week about what they were doing to keep everyone safe.

“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,” Bonner said.

But some are questioning whether things are as safe and clean as they should be.

WREG has received complaints about inmates who are supposed to be in quarantine out among others and using the same facilities.
One woman, who did not want to be identified, said her father has been at the jail since last fall, and now she is concerned about the safety of everyone there.

“People who are healthy are dying. There is no rhyme or reason to why they are dying,” she said. “It is just gonna be an endless cycle with mass casualties on both parts.”

County authorities asked for everyone to remember Smith’s family and friends in their thoughts and prayers.

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