From Staff Reports
Canadian County Sheriff Chris West reported on Thursday that his office had conducted COVID-19 antibody-testing on about one third of the sheriff’s office employees.
The results showed two people had the antibodies, meaning they have already had and recovered from COVID-19 and do not need to be quarantined, West said.
The process began about two weeks ago when Sheriff West made a phone call to Turn Key Health, the health care contractor for the Canadian County jail, and inquired if Turn Key could perform CV-19 antibody-testing on some of his employees.
The antibody-testing was on a voluntary basis, and performed by health care professionals working for Turn Key Health. The Sheriff’s Office was informed on Thursday that the testing was completed, resulting in 4% testing positive for COVID antibodies. The tests were from a broad base spectrum of employees including civilian and law enforcement personnel.
There were 47 people tested, about one third of the number of employees, West said.
“I believe 4% is a relatively high number compared to what national testing is showing across the country, and I feel it means we’ve done a really good job with our safety protocols, and in preventing an outbreak within our office, or within the community. I’m extremely grateful none of our employees became sick or were hospitalized, especially when considering how deadly and contagious they have said COVID-19 is,” West stated in a news release.
“Like other law enforcement agencies in Oklahoma and around the world, Canadian County Sheriff’s employees have not been sheltering at home, but have continued to perform their essential public safety and law enforcement mission throughout the COVID-19 pandemic and global state of emergency,” West stated.
In mid to late March, West was able to procure a limited supply of personal protective equipment for employees, and his office implemented operational modifications in the jail as well as for deputies interacting with the public and incorporating social distancing. Working with state and other county officials, the transportation of inmates from county to county, and across the state was suspended in hopes of not spreading infection from jail to jail, West stated.
Because deputies have continued to respond to calls for service, take reports and interact with the public, Sheriff West felt it was important to know if, and how his staff may have been impacted by the COVID-19 virus.
“Everyone, including civilian support staff, dispatchers, mechanics, jailers and deputies have all really stepped up and performed above and beyond during what has been a stressful time for everyone. I felt that as their employer it was important to determine if any of them had been exposed to COVID-19,” West said.
The test samples were taken on Thursday, April 23, 2020 by Turn Key Health Clinics medical professionals at the Canadian County Sheriff’s Office, and testing was completed by the IMMY laboratory in Norman, Oklahoma.
“Turn Key is proud to partner with an agency as professional and diligent as the Canadian County Sheriff’s Office. Both before and during the COVID-19 pandemic they, along with Turn Key, have been dedicated to protecting the inmates of the Canadian County Jail and the citizens of Canadian County. Canadian County was the first agency in Oklahoma to receive the IMMY labs antibody test. To show an antibody rate of 4 percent, while having no COVID-19 outbreak, shows the steps the Sheriff West is taking to prevent the spread of COVID-19 are working. While no one can fully stop a virus, Turn Key is fully committed to continuing its partnership with Sheriff West to provide top quality care to the inmates of the Canadian County Jail, for the protection of both those patients and the citizens of Canadian County,” said Flint Junod, CEO of Turn Key Health Clinics.
Based on the outcome of the testing, West says his office will continue to maintain sanitary and safety protocols put in place at the sheriff’s office.