LARGO, Fla. - Pinellas County’s top law enforcement officer is back to work after contracting COVID-19. Sheriff Bob Gualtieri says everyone needs to take this virus seriously.
More than a week after being cleared by a negative test result, he is still fatigued and cannot taste or smell.
“For me, especially the first few days of it, one of the scariest things is that you don’t know how you are going to react to it,” Gualtieri said.
He was sick for about eight days and says he was one of the lucky ones, only contracting a mild to moderate case of the virus.
“I had the bad headaches, I had a little bit of a sore throat, I [could not taste or smell,] had the joint aches, fatigue, and generally not feeling well,” Gualtieri said.
The sheriff's office claims employees are required to be socially distant in all meetings, and there are mandatory mask requirements.
Gualtieri did attend a statewide Florida Sheriff’s Association conference in July where some attendees tested positive for COVID-19. However, he suspects he was exposed at a later time by someone who was asymptomatic.
The sheriff said it’s very important to wear masks when appropriate, stay at least six feet away from others, and avoid large gatherings, especially with kids, teachers and staff heading back to in-person learning.
“It’s just a very scary and miserable disease, I hope that everybody out there follows all the right guidelines and the best practices and they don’t get it,” said Gualtieri.
For 2020, COVID-19 is now the number-one cause of death for law enforcement officers across the country. According to the Officer Down Memorial website, about 55% of line-of-duty deaths have been related to the coronavirus.