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When Morgan’s Finest Fall Ill

Staff Written Front Page, News

By Tia Lynn Ivey

Managing Editor 

“COVID is a monster,” said Carrie Peters-Reid, after watching her 41-year-old husband be whisked away by an ambulance in late July after he contracted the coronavirus. 

Lieutenant Derrick Reid, with the Morgan County Sheriff’s Office, remains hospitalized after suffering severe symptoms of COVID-19, the highly-contagious and potentially lethal upper-respiratory coronavirus. 

At the Madison’s Police Department, Chief Bill Ashburn also contracted the virus and was home for three weeks recovering. 

“It was a miserable three weeks,” said Chief Ashburn. “Like a lot of people, I was skeptical about it. I thought if I ever got the coronavirus, it would be like getting the common cold. I was sorely mistaken.”

Police officers have always put their lives at risk in the line of duty, but a worldwide pandemic adds even more risk as officer continue to provide essential services to the community. 

According to Ashburn, another police officer is out sick with COVID-19 and another police employee has been quarantined after being exposed to the virus. According to Morgan County Sheriff Robert Markley, a total of four county sheriff employees, including Reid, tested positive for the coronavirus. 

“The job that these officers do, on the road and at the jail, are difficult enough as it is,” said Sheriff Markley.  “Now we’ve added another difficulty to it with COVID-19. We are doing everything we can and taking all the safety precautions for our employees to avoid getting this virus.  We wish Lieutenant Reid a speedy and full recovery.”

Lieutenant Reid, who is also a pastor with his wife at Pleasant Grove Baptist Church, first became showing symptoms on July 25, with a fever and inability to taste food. In the coming days he developed shortness of breath, loss of appetite and insomnia. After seeking medical care twice, he was hospitalized on July 30. 

“He is still there fighting for his life,” said Carrie Peters-Reid, who is also a Madison City Councilwoman. “He said he would not wish this on his worst enemy—that he never felt this bad in his life.”

Lieutenant Reid is still hospitalized as his future remains uncertain. 

“We went to bed Friday night and woke up Saturday to a whole a new life,” said Carrie Peters-Reid. “We don’t know when he will be released from the hospital and we don’t know what kind of affects all the medicine they are giving him will have.”

As Derrick was loaded into the ambulance, Carrie told her husband to fight for his life while she prayed. Carrie is not allowed to be with her husband while he is in the hospital due to the virus being highly contagious. 

“The most difficult part is not being able to touch , hug and love on him. We usually are laughing and holding hands even in tough times,” said Carrie. 

Carrie Peters-Reid is urging the public to take the coronavirus pandemic seriously. 

“Please wear a mask , social distance and wash your hands. I think we need to shut down again until this is under control,” said Carrie Peters-Reid. “This virus is real. We need Morgan County to fight and pray on their knees for our community, state and the world.”

Madison Police Chief Bill Ashburn has urged the public to take every precaution possible after his three-week bout with COVID-19. Ashburn was not hospitalized, but suffered from labored breathing, high fevers for seven days straight, body aches, and sore throat. 

“There is no telling how this virus will affect you. It’s not like the flu. I can tell you I never want to get this again,” said Ashburn who returned to work yesterday for the first time since recovering from COVID-19. “There is no rhyme or reason as to why it hits some people harder than others. Take safety precautions and try to avoid it.”

While police offers cannot work from home like other professions, the city and county police departments are taking every precaution to avoid an outbreak, say officials. “Both road staff and jail staff are being very careful, even administrative staff, to take precautions trying to avoid getting sick with this virus,” said Sheriff Markley. 

According to Markley, employees wear masks, check temperatures of inmates, and have stepped up sanitation practices since the pandemic hit. 

“We are doing everything we can to keep our employees and inmates safe from this virus,” said Markley. 

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