Butler County Sheriff says force greatly affected by current COVID-19 surge

Butler County Sheriff Richard Jones addresses the public. (File Photo\Journal-News)

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Butler County Sheriff Richard Jones addresses the public. (File Photo\Journal-News)

Dozens of BCSO employees have virus, Jones says

It has been months since Butler County Sheriff Richard Jones took to social media to address the COVID-19 situation in the county. But on Friday, the death of employees and a depleted workforce prompted strong comments.

Jones, who has COVID-19 along with some of his family members, said the virus is “off the hook” in Butler County. He cited conversations with an emergency room doctor and area health commissioners.

COVID-19 has hit schools, hospitals and workplaces hard. Jones said the reality in his own department is that 2022 could be worse for employee illness, at the rate people currently are testing positive.

The BCSO has 500 employees. More than 60 now have COVID-19.

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“80 employees in 2020 had COVID here at the sheriff’s office. In 2021, we had roughly 80 employees with COVID. So far in 2022, in less than a month, we have over 60 employees that have had COVID,” Jones said. “So anybody who tells you here in Butler County and in other parts of the country that it’s not bad — it’s bad.”

Jones said he was told by local heath commissioners that an estimated two out of five people have COVID-19.

“In other words when you are out somewhere, the odds are two in five people have COVID,” Jones said. But he also noted there is more testing available that ever before which could add to that number.

“We all have COVID fatigue, including myself,” Jones said. “What I am telling you is pay attention to your surroundings, remember the two of five, wash your hands as much as you can and stay away from large crowds as much as you can ... Right now in Butler County it is off the hook.”

Jones said his attitude about COVID has changed — a lot.

“My attitude has changed immensely, I have had three employees in the last 12 months in the Butler County Sheriff’s Office that have died from COVID,” Jones said.

A preliminary report released this month by the National Law Enforcement Memorial and Museum indicated 2021 was the deadliest for active-duty law enforcement in nearly 100 years, with COVID-19 identified as the leading cause of death, NPR reported.

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