Deputy tests positive, department continues taking precautions

XENIA — As one Greene County Sheriff’s deputy recovers in the hospital from COVID-19, the department continues practicing procedures every day to protect its employees, inmates and the public.

Sheriff Gene Fischer said the deputy with the positive test has been off work for a couple weeks.

“Last night he appeared to have a very good night at the hospital. We are praying for a speedy recovery for him and safety for him and his family,” Fischer said by phone Tuesday, noting that the deputy doesn’t live in Greene County. “The health department is doing a background check to find out where he was … we don’t believe he contaminated anyone around here. We’re pretty comfortable on that.”

The office has so far sent eight other employees home, or asked them not to come into work, because they either had symptoms or had been in contact with somebody who had symptoms. All other employees who were tested for the coronavirus have received negative test results and were allowed to return to work.

Each day, every employee has their temperature taken and answers a set of questions about symptoms and travel. Deputies handle some calls over the phone, and clean the inside of their cruisers at the end of each shift. Transportation of people in cruisers has stopped. All employees have Personal Protection Equipment (PPE) — safety glasses and masks.

Fischer said a group of women is making cloth masks for employees to wear off duty, too. He sported his — black with multi-colored stars and a filter pocket — at the Fairborn Kroger on Saturday.

“Don’t be ashamed to wear a mask. This is a different society right now,” he urged residents. “We’re taking every precaution we can get.”

In anticipation of the “estimated peak” of cases in Ohio, the sheriff said he’s making some changes to the road control shift schedule. Road deputies will work more days in a row, allowing others to have more time off and act as reserves in case an officer on shift gets sick.

“That allows people to not interact with each other as much,” he said. “It gives the other group more time off to be with their family and then get back to work.”

As long as the courts remain open, the department has plenty of work to do, and strives to remain visible to the public.

Fischer said it’s important to keep web check areas open so that people being re-hired as health care workers can get their background checks done, especially since most private places that do that are now closed.

“We don’t want people with criminal records going into work in hospitals and nursing home facilities. It’s vital that we keep that open, and the CCW window, too,” he said.

There have been no problems in the jails, the sheriff reported, which have ceased visitations from the public and implemented fever checks and symptom questions for employees and new inmates.

According to Miami Valley Jails records, the current jail population in Greene County is 146 inmates. Fischer said this is down by about 50 percent, due to judges’ early release of some inmates.

“The population has gone up and down a little bit since that time,” Fischer said. “Still, a week and half ago we caught a burglar breaking into somebody’s house. So people are still committing crimes. But the calls for service have been way down.”


By Anna Bolton

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