MARYVILLE, Tenn. (WATE) – Fifteen employees have tested positive for COVID-19 at the Blount County Sheriff’s Office, Sheriff James Lee Berrong said Tuesday.
Berrong said the majority of the deputies are reporting mild, flu- and cold-like symptoms.
Five Sheriff’s Office workers are currently quarantining at home out of an abundance of caution.
Daily operations at the Sheriff’s Office are running efficiently, and no inmates have been affected, according to a post on the Blount County Sheriff’s Office Facebook page.
Berrong said he would like to reassure citizens that the Sheriff’s Office is carefully following CDC COVID-19 guidelines, including daily temperature and health checks of employees and citizens entering the Justice Center, mask requirements for deputies and citizens in the public areas of the Justice Center, and regular deep-cleaning and sanitization inside the Justice Center.
“We are also continuing to shield our inmate population from exposure inside the facility,” he said. “Prior to the booking process, corrections deputies take temperatures of incoming arrestees before being allowed into the facility, and they receive additional screening from our medical staff if it is warranted.
“If an individual has a confirmed COVID-19 case, we follow state protocol.”
Corrections personnel have taken steps to limit exposure among inmates and the general public.
Many inmates make their court appearances by way of video hearings with the judges in lieu of in-person court appearances. In addition, inmates are utilizing video for visitation with their loved ones, thereby limiting exposure.
“The health of our deputies is a primary concern, and I am committed to looking after those who look after our community,” Berrong said. “We are doing everything we can to prevent the spread of this virus among our 350 deputies and our inmate population.
“To say it has been a challenge to manage this pandemic among our ranks is an understatement. The inherent dangers that our deputies face on a daily basis, especially in today’s environment, are now magnified by way of this insidious virus. Many of our deputies must work together in confined environments for long periods of time, especially inside the secure areas of the Justice Center.
“Even with protocols in place to limit exposure, the virus reared its ugly head. The upside is that we are managing to prevent the spread of the virus throughout the ranks, and our reported cases are now on the downtick and we believe we have prevented any further spread. It will be a relief to see an end to this pandemic. In the meantime, the Sheriff’s Office is operating efficiently, and we are continuing 24-hour operations to provide services and protection for our citizens.”
Stay with News 2 for continuing coverage of the COVID-19 Pandemic.