Putnam County deputy hospitalized after 2 test positive for coronavirus

Sheriff's Office now requiring patrol deputies to wear N95 masks while dealing with public

File photo of Putnam County patrol vehicles
File photo of Putnam County patrol vehicles (WJXT 2020)

A Putnam County deputy is hospitalized and another is in quarantine after both tested positive for the new coronavirus, the Sheriff’s Office said Tuesday.

The latest cases are prompting policy changes by the Sheriff’s Office, which now requires patrol deputies to don N95 masks while dealing with the public, and deputies stationed at the courthouse will screen people before they’re allowed inside.

“As we continue to evaluate the pandemic, we will continue to make changes to our policy to ensure our deputies, employees, inmates and the public are safe,” the Sheriff’s Office said in a Facebook post.

The deputies who tested positive are a corrections deputy who’s being treated at an area hospital and a patrol deputy who is isolating at home. The Sheriff’s Office said it’s likely the deputies, who did not have contact with each other, were exposed to the virus while off duty.

Their infections represent the second and third cases reported among Putnam County deputies. Another deputy who tested positive for COVID-19 in April has since recovered and returned to work.

As a policy, any deputies or employees who come down with COVID-19 must receive two negative tests before they are cleared to return to duty, the Sheriff’s Office said.

An inmate at the Putnam County jail remains in isolation while awaiting the results of a COVID-19 test. The Sheriff’s Office said that was a precautionary step to prevent potential spread among the general population.

Inmates receive daily health screenings, the agency said, but so far there are no signs that any of them — besides the inmate placed in isolation — could be infected with the contagious virus.

Also Tuesday, the Florida Department of Health began testing all Jacksonville inmates for COVID-19 after inmates and employees at the Duval County jail had contact with a doctor who tested positive. At least 20 inmates have tested positive and 17 employees are in quarantine.

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