WAYNESBORO, Ga. (WJBF) – Leaders in Burke County are responding to more positive cases in the area. The Waynesboro Police Department became the latest victim to COVID-19. While those impacted are home recovering, there are changes being made now to keep others safe.
We spoke with Tommy Henderson, Waynesboro Police Department Assistant Police Chief, who contacted NewsChannel 6 after learning about the cases.
“First responders are the front line of defense that people can count on. We’re here. We’re dedicated. We’re serving. We’re protecting ourselves and trying to protect our citizens,” he said.
Assistant Chief Henderson said seven people tested positive for COVID-19. Now, they are taking extra precautions.
He added, “We’ve put everybody in masks and gloves. We’ve secured the building and closed it off to the public. We’ve instructed the officers to hold roll call outside in the parking lot so they can exercise social distancing.”
This comes after the first positive case was reported at Plant Vogtle and the company awaits more test results. And several positive cases turned up at Palmer Grove Baptist Church last week. County leaders said Burke County Medical Center is testing for COVID-19, but results need to be sent off to a lab and are not immediate.
Henderson told us about seven people tested negative at WPD, but they are still testing others and awaiting results. He also said his department needs to use PPEs and common sense.
“We still want them to exercise social distancing as much as they can while they are in the public answering calls for service. We’ve instructed them to use discretion on low level misdemeanor arrests, to be smart about it. We are still in the process of fighting crime. Officers are to disinfect their work spaces in their patrol cars and here at the facility at least three times, at the beginning of the shift, middle of the shift and at the end of the shift. The city also has workers that come through and sanitize the facility at least twice a day,” he said.
The Assistant Chief said people need to adhere to the Governor’s shelter in place order and practice social distancing.
“Anybody who wants to come to the police department to file a complaint or for information, we’d ask you to call us,” Henderson said. “Call in and speak with the dispatcher to take a police report over the phone. If you come to the facility, we will come to the door to see what your concerns are and see how we can be of service.”
Majority of those who tested positive are feeling fine and recovering well, according to Henderson. The days of quarantine vary and are case by case.
Photojournalist: Gary Hipps