NEWPORT NEWS, Va. - COVID-19 is running rampant out in our community, impacting nearly all walks of life in all industries, including those in uniform.
This includes our first responders who keep us safe on the streets, keep our courts secure and run our jails.
"We thought we had this behind us, and this new wave came and gut-punched us," said Newport News Sheriff Gabe Morgan.
Morgan spoke frankly Tuesday about the COVID surge impacting his staff.
"The speed of response is key because we are fighting an invisible enemy," said Sheriff Morgan.
Deputies on the force get their temperatures taken daily in nearly every building they enter - unbeknownst to them with new technology - and it's mandatory for vaccines and masks.
"Also, they are required not to travel outside a 71-mile radius if they do they have to quarantine," said Morgan.
So far, out of 250 Newport News deputies, 14 are COVID-positive as of Tuesday.
We took a snapshot of sheriff's offices in Hampton Roads:
- In Virginia Beach, out of the 403 deputies on staff, 27 are COVID-positive as of Tuesday.
- In Norfolk, of the 404 sworn deputies, 15 are COVID-positive.
- In Suffolk, there's a greater impact on the force. Of the 41 deputies, 16 are out sick with COVID.
- In Isle of Wight, a smaller, more rural county, with 58 sworn deputies, four are out with COVID.
"We are trying to find as a smaller agency be creative as we can to stay ahead of the curve," said Captain Tommy Potter with the Isle of Wight County Sheriff's Office. "Maybe since we are already short-staffed, we don't send a deputy but take a phone report."
Potter says their office and other offices are already feeling a shortage of deputies, and so this just exacerbates the problem.
"The good news, though, is that the citizens still have the same services offered," said Potter.