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Florida sheriff blasts Georgia senator for visiting island after COVID-19 diagnosis

State Sen. Bruce Thompson posted this picture of himself on his Facebook site.
State Sen. Bruce Thompson posted this picture of himself on his Facebook site.

A Florida sheriff unleashed a tirade Wednesday against a Georgia state senator who tested positive for the novel coronavirus and traveled to an island vacation home in his county.

Franklin County Sheriff A.J. Smith said state Sen. Bruce Thompson, a Republican from White, arrived Tuesday night at his beachfront home in St. George, Florida.

Thompson announced March 22 he had tested positive for COVID-19 after being hospitalized with respiratory issues. He could not immediately be reached Wednesday.

Florida executive order requires anyone who travels from "an area of substantial community spread" to isolate or quarantine for 14 days after entering the state and granted police enforcement powers.

“I am going to put a deputy out in front of his house and if he leaves we’re going to ask him why, because he’s supposed to self quarantine — which could lead to an arrest,” Smith told The Atlanta Journal-Constitution.

“I’m serious about this,” Smith said. “I’m not playing around. I appreciate his position in Georgia, being a senator, but it’s irresponsible for him to be here, I think, and to put our community in danger.”

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Smith told local press Wednesday evening that after the deputy was stationed outside Thompson's home, the senator called and informed the sheriff he would leave town.

Centers for Disease Control guidelines say someone who has tested positive for coronavirus can end isolation if he or she has not had a fever for three days, other symptoms have subsided and it's been seven days since symptoms first appeared.

Smith said he called Thompson on Tuesday and asked him not to come Franklin County.

“I called him when he was on his way down and asked him why he was coming and he said he had a clean bill of health,”  Smith said. “We’re one of the few counties in Florida that has not had a case yet and we want to keep it that way.”

Smith said Thompson arrived at the private St. George Plantation community "in a caravan of three cars" late Tuesday. He said he's not sure how many people are with the senator.

"I read his Facebook page and he had 'hashtag stay home' — and he's down here in Florida," Smith said. "If he had just stayed home we wouldn't be in this problem. We wouldn't be doing this."

Thompson is one of six state lawmakers who say they have tested positive for the coronavirus. A seventh is presumed to have the virus but has not taken a test.

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