Boone County commissioners board president, others contract COVID-19


The Boone County Sheriff’s Office reported three of its employees and two of the county’s unified command team tested positive for COVID-19 during the office’s bi-weekly COVID-19 tests. One of the unified command team to contract the disease was Boone County Commissioner Board Member President Donnie Lawson.

Of the newly reported positive cases in the BCSO, one is from the office’s enforcement division, two are from its corrections division and two are from the unified command. To date, the BCSO has completed 1,883 tests, 12 of which returned positive. Ten of the tests were within the BCSO and two are from within the unified command.

Lawson, who made executive decisions in relation to COVID-19 on behalf of the county when it was in a state of emergency, said he was tested Nov. 4 and received a positive test result Nov. 6, after which he has quarantined at his house, away from others. He said he has had no symptoms and would have not known he had the disease if he was not tested every two weeks as part of the office’s testing program.

“It’s really strange because you try to be extremely careful of where you go, what you do, who you are in contact with,” Lawson said Nov. 12. “I would have bet $1,000 that I was not (positive) because I have no (other) clue that I have it at all. I’ve been extremely lucky that I have no symptoms. I want people to understand that it doesn’t matter who you are or what you are doing; you have to be careful. Even for me, being an EMT and a fireman, we still do things way above and beyond to make sure we don’t run into that problem, and you just never know. I have no clue who I’ve been around that I could have gotten this from.”

Upon receiving the results, the BCSO employees were immediately quarantined at their homes and will remain isolated for a period of at least two weeks. The BCSO employees will then submit to two more tests before returning to work. Both tests, at least 24 hours apart, must have a negative result before the employees return to work. In a press release, the BCSO stated that it continues to follow suggested guidelines provided by local, state and federal health authorities, such as social distancing, wearing masks, avoiding crowds, staying home when sick and washing hands.

Boone County Sheriff Mike Nielsen stated the following after the positive tests were reported:

“On Sept. 15, we released a media statement about our third positive case of COVID in our Sheriff’s Office. At that time, we stated that we were approaching 1,000 positive cases in Boone County. Today, 55 days later, we are closing in on 1,800 positive cases in Boone County with 56 deaths. We continue to mitigate the spread of this virus through mandatory testing of all our employees every two weeks. Our goal continues to be to protect our staff, their families, the inmates, and the public that we encounter each day. We continue to be committed to keeping everyone safe and to prevent the spread of this deadly virus. Please help us help you by using the SMASH Acronym from the Boone County Health Department. Stay educated on this virus and practice SMASH to help prevent the spread. If this virus has not affected you, your family, or your friends, it will. Please stay healthy.”