Adapting to the coronavirus has been a challenge on many levels, but most local public safety agencies have reported they’ve been largely successful in dealing with what has been a complicated situation.
Since March, the Rome-Floyd County Fire Department has had 50 people out quarantining either from a COVID-19 exposure or actually contracting the disease. Most of the actual cases have been largely asymptomatic, Fire Chief Troy Brock said.
“We’ve generally had a couple (firefighters) out every week,” Brock said.
They developed protocols early to limit staff interactions with the public and made adjustments to how they deal with medical calls.
“Our personnel have really done a fantastic job from the beginning,” Brock said.
At the Floyd County Police Department, they’ve had several quarantines but only three staff members who have tested positive for the disease caused by the novel coronavirus.
“That’s pretty amazing considering the amount of contact with the public we’ve had,” Police Chief Mark Wallace said.
Of those, two were largely asymptomatic and another officer is recovering from a relatively bad case.
They haven’t had to change their protocols much from normal operations other than a few precautions, Wallace said, because they already face the potential for contact with infectious diseases when responding to calls.
To add an additional layer of protection for first responders, Floyd County 911 recently began asking all callers if they have been exposed to COVID-19.
Emergency services personnel have worked with the Department of Public Health since spring to identify addresses where potential exposures may happen. They’re hoping this extra step will be an additional layer of protection.
“That way, when they get to the scene (first responders are) aware,” Assistant Director Sommer Robinson told the public safety committee.
County prison and jail officials have largely managed to keep the virus out of their facilities.
As of Thursday, there have been no Floyd County Jail inmates who have tested positive for COVID-19, Sheriff Tim Burkhalter said.
They’re keeping an eye on a person transferred from the Bartow County Jail on Tuesday. The entire Bartow jail was quarantined Wednesday after over 30 people tested positive with COVID-19.
Burkhalter said seven staff members within the past month have either been quarantined or tested positive but, so far, no people housed at the jail.
The Floyd County Prison on Black’s Bluff Road has had similar luck in keeping the coronavirus outside its fences.
Warden Mike Long reported they’ve had three cases in staff members and those were isolated quickly after one event.
“They seem to be on the recovery end,” he said and hopes they’ll return to work next week.
One inmate at the work release facility was exposed by an employer, he said, but, other than that, they’ve not had any issues in the program.
For their part, the Floyd County Emergency Management Agency has played a support role for the Georgia Department of Public Health. Lately, they’ve assisted in moving the DPH testing area from West Rome Baptist Church to the Coosa Valley Fairgrounds.
Men from the Floyd County Prison put in a carport at the fairgrounds to provide shelter for the workers, Floyd EMA Director Tim Herrington said.
Two more Floyd County residents died from COVID-19, according to the DPH Thursday report, bringing the total to 51. So far, 3,522 residents have tested positive; 234 of them in the past two weeks.