94 Sarasota Sheriff’s Office workers showing symptoms of COVID, 60 tests positive

SARASOTA, Fla. (WFLA) – The Sarasota County Sheriff’s Office says it is seeing an influx of employees testing positive for COVID-19.

According to a spokesperson, the sheriff’s office currently has 94 unemployed employees with symptoms related to COVID. Sixty of those employees have tested positive for COVID-19.

The sheriff’s office has over 1,000 employees, so just under 10% of its workforce is affected.

As recently as last week, on August 18, Major Jon Goetluck of the Administrative Division sent all employees an email sharing up-to-date numbers. The subject line was “COVID-19 Update”.

“I wasn’t going to release our numbers to avoid unnecessary panic, but I find it necessary to do so. Yesterday we have a total of 77 people out of work, 60 of them with positive test results (this does not include staff absent for other reasons), ”the major wrote in the email. “We have had up to five people hospitalized in the past two months. It is imperative that we all work together to stop unnecessary exposure and exhausting our workforce. “

Major Goetluck has sent two emails in the past few weeks urging employees to stay home if they are not feeling well.

In an August 3 email to employees, Major Goetluck acknowledged the rise in cases statewide and locally and stressed that “it is imperative that everyone continue to take all precautions. appropriate to help reduce the spread of the virus ”.

The main precautions listed that employees should take include washing their hands frequently, wiping down workstations and common areas, and avoiding touching their eyes, nose and mouth. In bold, red and underlined, the major wrote “most importantly, don’t come to work sick”.

A week later, on August 12, the Major resent the same email with an additional note to all employees.

“I am resending the email below because we still have employees who come to work with symptoms and expose other employees and then test positive 2-3 days later,” the major said. “We have reduced group formations in an effort to reduce the number of large groups that come together closely for long periods of time. Remember to be considerate of your colleagues and follow the protocols below.

Sheriff’s Office spokeswoman Kaitlyn Perez said the agency is handling staff shortages on a day-to-day basis.

“In our law enforcement division, we have also had a few patrol assistants who have tested positive or come out, including some who work at our reception,” Perez explained. “So we kind of use a holistic approach to attract people from different parts of the agency to make sure we’re staffing things accordingly.”

The courts and corrections division has been the hardest hit since this week.

“Right now we have a good number of MPs working in corrections who are absent either because of exposure, symptoms or a positive test,” Perez said. “Fortunately, our courthouse workforce has helped fill our staffing shortages at the facility. “

“No matter where those numbers go and no matter how many people are exposed in the agency, we’re always going to make sure we answer the calls, that means relying on our partners through MOUs and bringing in more. other people in the community to help us, “added Perez.” We realize that we are a 24/7 business and this is not going to stop. “

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