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Santa Rosa County Sheriff Bob Johnson positive for COVID-19 after attending conference

Jim Little
Pensacola News Journal

Santa Rosa County Sheriff Bob Johnson has tested positive for COVID-19 after recently attending a Florida Sheriffs Association conference.

Santa Rosa County Sheriff's spokesman Sgt. Rich Aloy said in a news release that  Johnson is "doing extremely well and is currently quarantined at his residence."

Johnson attended the Florida Sheriffs Association conference in Bonita Springs last week, Aloy confirmed in a press release.

"During the conference, Sheriff Johnson followed CDC Guidelines of practicing social distancing and the utilization of PPE (mask)," Aloy wrote in the release. "Just after the Sheriff’s return from the conference, he felt a bit under the weather and decided to proactively test for COVID. The test returned positive."

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Aloy said the test did not indicate where or how Johnson became infected with the virus. He noted other members of the Sheriff's Office had tested positive before Johnson left for the conference.

Other people who attended the conference have also tested positive for COVID-19 after returning from the event, including the sheriff of Volusia County, the sheriff of Levy County and the sheriff of Gilchrist County, as well as the top two officials of the Florida Department of Corrections.

It's not clear where any of the individuals contracted the virus.

Santa Rosa County Sheriff Bob Johnson

The Florida Sheriffs Association conference brought in law enforcement officials from all across the state.  Attendees of the event have said organizers had social distancing measures in place and masks were required to be worn at the event.

Lee County Sheriff Carmine Marceno, who hosted the conference, told the USA TODAY Network on Friday that the conference would typically have included sheriffs from all 67 Florida counties, but this year, it was instead a "skeleton crew of sheriffs because of COVID."

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He said that tables that usually held 10 or 12 people at the conference were empty.

"Many tables were empty,” Marceno said. “They cut everything back and everything was social distanced. It was real strict.”

Several of the sheriffs who attended the conference later appeared alongside President Donald Trump at a campaign event Friday in Tampa.

Jim Little can be reached at jwlittle@pnj.com and 850-208-9827.