OUR POSITION: Charlotte County Sheriff Bill Prummell curtailed some services to stem the spread of COVID-19 among his staff and that is a good thing.

We came across a missive criticizing Charlotte County Sheriff Bill Prummell for temporarily cutting out some services after members of his staff tested positive for COVID-19. The criticism is misplaced.

Prummell decided last week he would suspend fingerprinting services and the Citizen’s Police Academy program to help reduce the spread of the virus as the new delta strain races through Southwest Florida and sends more and more people to the hospital.

In an attempt to explain the situation — and possibly dull any criticism — Prummell took to his blog to explain that a positivity rate of about 16% in Charlotte County is evidence of the need for all residents to be cautious to avoid even higher numbers. He said the action was taken to protect “citizens of Charlotte County, and also to protect my staff. Simply put, this new, very contagious strain has made its way into the Sheriff’s Office and I cannot hesitate to respond.”

Good for you, sheriff.

We’re glad to see our sheriff, whose political leanings might lead some to believe he would be taking the COVID lightly, show respect for the seriousness of the spread of the virus.

And Prummell took it a step further by mandating his staff in all locations to “wear a face mask whenever they are inside an area where social distancing is not possible. Several employees who have the ability to work from home have been asked to do so, and I have reaffirmed the importance of cleaning and sanitizing every workstation as well as practicing good personal hygiene.”

The sheriff went on to say deputies have been told to thoroughly clean all agency vehicles after any transport and are required to report any exposure or potential exposure they encounter. He has asked for any CCSO employee to report symptoms of any kind to a supervisor.

He closed his message by assuring the public these measures would not in any way impede the Sheriff’s Office from performing its duties while acknowledging the current wave of infections in Florida is nothing to take lightly.

No one should panic over the rapid spread of the new delta virus. Yet as numbers climb, it is obvious the virus is as serious now as it was a year ago when people were being super cautious, staying inside more and the governor was mandating outside dining only and other precautions that are not being considered now.

We don’t want to go backward. Hopefully we can get a handle on the delta strain and continue to move toward normalcy. But we’re glad our sheriff is taking it serious and doing his part to battle the infection rate before it gets totally out of hand.


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