Chatham County sheriff discusses COVID-19 measures after employee tests positive

Local News

SAVANNAH, Ga. (WSAV) – An employee of the Chatham County Sheriff’s Office (CCSO) has tested positive for COVID-19, Sheriff John Wilcher said Wednesday.

Wilcher said the individual, identified only as a staff member or officer, is isolated at home.

“He hasn’t been inside of my jail since last Thursday,” the sheriff told News 3. “He hasn’t had any contact with any inmates or anything because he doesn’t go in the places in the jail where the inmates are.”

Wilcher said he spoke with the staffer on the phone Wednesday afternoon who still has a temperature but is “doing great.”

CCSO is working now to figure out who the employee may have had contact with.

Meanwhile, the sheriff said they have measures in place to maintain a safe environment for officers, staff and inmates:

  • CCSO facilities are restricted to authorized personnel only
  • anyone who enters facilities must go through a “mandatory health screening entrance”
  • facilities and vehicles are sanitized on a regular basis
  • an infection control prevention nurse is on staff
  • inmates processed at the jail and discharged from the jail undergo health screenings

“We’re doing every precautionary measure we can to make sure that nothing does get inside the jail,” Wilcher said. “In a perfect world, we would hope it didn’t get in there.”

The sheriff added that there has been no interruption in services due to COVID-19 and that he is working with the judicial system to decrease CCSO’s inmate population to reduce the risk of infection.

About two and a half weeks ago, the jail held approximately 1,750 inmates. As of Wednesday afternoon, Wilcher said the population was down to 1,398.

The sheriff previously announced that anyone who commits a misdemeanor offense will be arrested but will not be allowed into the jail.

“You know, my hat’s off to the judicial system, the judges, the district attorney, the public defenders and the regular attorneys who are handling cases every day throughout the video arraignment that they have at the court,” Wilcher said, adding, “The inmates at the jail don’t leave the jail anytime whatsoever.”

The sheriff said his office is also working with the Georgia Department of Public Health, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Gov. Brian Kemp’s COVID-19 task force and the Department of Homeland Security amid the viral outbreak.

“My priority as sheriff of Chatham County is the safety of everyone at the detention center and in our community,” Wilcher stated. “We will continue to keep you informed with regular updates.”

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