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A state senator from north of Atlanta, who spent time in intensive care, was diagnosed with the coronavirus, and came to recuperate on St. George Island, has decided to return to Georgia.
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Sheriff A.J. Smith had assigned a deputy to State Senator Bruce Thompson’s residence in the Plantation on St. George Island, to ensure compliance of the 14 day self quarantine.
Around 3:30 p.m. today, the sheriff reported that Thompson had called him to advise, he’s leaving to return back to Georgia.
The events leading up to Thompson’s return had angered Smith.
“I talked to him yesterday,” said A.J. Smith Wednesday morning. “I think he needs to go back to Georgia.”
The sheriff spoke to State Senator Bruce Thompson, who hails from the small town of White, while he was en route from Georgia to his home in the Plantation.
“Why are you coming here?” Smith said he asked him, and was told “the doctor said it would be good for my lungs.”
Thompson, one of a handful of George legislators who have tested positive for the coronavirus, spent time in intensive care in mid-March.
On his Facebook page on March 22, Thompson wrote that a week and a half prior, he came down with flu like symptoms and left the state capitol immediately, and went home to self-quarantine.
“Because of my symptoms, I skipped the legislative special session and remained away from the public,” he wrote. “On Monday, my condition had worsened and I was admitted to the ICU. Last night, I was released and returned home. I have now received confirmation that my coronavirus test came back positive. While I am feeling much better, I plan to remain at home in self-quarantine for the immediate future.”
He said he and his wife Becky “appreciate your prayers during all of this, and I hope you and your loved ones are staying safe during these uncertain and trying times. Thank you to the amazing healthcare workers at Northside Cherokee who provided first class service - they and thousands of others across the country are on the frontlines in this battle.
“I ask everyone to join me in doing your part to #FlattenTheCurve and #StayHome as we fight the spread of COVID-19,” he wrote.
While the county commission has advised a two-week quarantine for all visitors from Georgia, there is little Smith can do in terms of law enforcement to prevent Thompson from remaining holed up in his Plantation residence.
“He says he’s cured,” said Smith. “He lives north of Atlanta. I don’t know why he didn’t stay there, It perplexes me.”
The sheriff said three cars entered the Plantation with Thompson’s entourage. “I don’t know who came with him,” Smith said. “My job as sheriff is to protect the health and safety of our citizens.
“People are going to be uneasy with him here. They are going to be livid. People aren’t going to understand,” he said. “The president, the governor and county officials are staying stay home. They don’t say come to your beach house.
“It’s just irresponsible to come from a state that has a lot of cases to county that’s hasn’t had any,” Smith said. “He’s an elected official, he should be telling people not to travel.
“It’s irresponsible for an elected official to do this,” he said.
A Republican, Thompson was elected to the Georgia State Senate in 2013, and represents Senate District 14, which includes portions of Cherokee, Bartow and Cobb counties. He chairs the Senate’s Science and Technology Committee.
Smith said the sheriff’s office has seen widespread compliance with the countywide beach closure, which is set to run until April 9, if it is not extended by a special meeting of the county commission.
“We have a tendency to see more people staying home,” he said, noting that over weekend, typically a more robust time for visitors, “we could see a spike in that.”
Sheriff wants curfew enacted
The sheriff said he has asked County Coordinator Michael Morón to request a special meeting of the county commission to consider a countywide curfew. Morón said he is in discussion with County Attorney Michael Shuler on drafting possible legislation for commissioners to consider.
“Places are closed and there’s concern over businesses being burglarized,” Smith said, adding that there so far has not been an increased incidence of break-ins.
But, he said, concern is rising about an increased number of people out and about at any hour of the day or night.
“We need to be able to do something with these folks and help protect our businesses,” Smithy said.
He said his deputies have been fitted with masks, and frequently wear gloves, as they adjust to precautions called for by the Center for Disease Control.
Smith asked county residents to be understanding if they are not treated as warmly as they have come to expect from law enforcement.
“They’re not trying to be rude or standoffish, by not shaking hands and keeping their distance,” he said. “Don’t take it as rude.”
Smith said sanitation has been stepped up at the jail, which now houses about 70 inmates.
“We’ve put wash stations outside two doors at the jail,” he said. “Staff has done a great job of taking the necessary precautions.”