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The Forsyth County Sheriff's Office announced on Wednesday that nine deputies have tested positive for COVID-19, all stemming from an employee exposed to the virus by their spouse.
A member of a small group of deputies that works inside the FCSO notified the agency on Friday, April 17, that their spouse, who is a health care worker, had tested positive for COVID-19, the disease caused by the novel coronavirus SARS-CoV-2.
The deputy and the rest of the group, which had been splitting their work between home and the office, was immediately quarantined, according to the FCSO. The agency's buildings were sanitized over the weekend and testing was arranged on Monday, April 20, for about 18 employees who had direct or indirect contact with the deputy who was potentially exposed.
Results returned the following day revealed seven employees, all deputies, tested positive.
Two other deputies later tested positive for COVID-19 after originally testing negative but developing symptoms. The FCSO traced those deputies' contacts and arranged for testing for nearly 70 more employees between April 22 and April 24, including Sheriff Ron Freeman and Chief Deputy Grady Sanford Jr.
All the "second- and third-level contacts" from the infected employees tested negative, the FCSO said.
The FCSO said the original work group doesn't have "direct or daily contact" with the public, and none of the deputies affected work in or had recently visited the Forsyth County Jail.
In addition, the FCSO believes further exposure in the agency was avoided since most "administrative and non-essential staff" have been working from home.
The FCSO said it is helping to provide daily care for the deputies along with their health care providers.
"I would ask that our community keep our employees in your prayers as they fight to recover from this virus," Freeman said in a statement.
Freeman said the FCSO's "service delivery and ability to keep Forsyth safe has not been impacted."
Freeman previously told the Forsyth County News that the agency redeployed its 40 school resource officers into the field after Gov. Brian Kemp closed schools for the remainder of the school year.
"This is a stark reminder that even with social distancing and [personal protective equipment], your deputy sheriffs, firefighters and health care workers are on the front lines of this [pandemic]," Freeman said.