MACON COUNTY, Ala. (WRBL) – The Macon County community is rallying around their sheriff after he tested positive for COVID-19 over the weekend. News 3 spoke with Sheriff Andre Brunson on the phone Monday morning from his home, where he’s isolating away from his loved ones while recovering.
Sheriff Brunson is larger than life type of guy. He’s big in stature, big in personality, and has a big heart for his community. It’s hard to see him sick, but it’s not unlike Sheriff Brunson to take his struggle and use it to help families understand more about the virus and the vaccine.
“It feels like a bad flu, but a lot worse. I don’t wish this on anybody,” said Sheriff Brunson.
Saturday, Sheriff Brunson tested positive for COVID-19; so far, about twenty or so employees who work with the Macon County Sheriff’s Office have either recovered or are battling the virus. Sheriff Brunson says the worst part for him is isolating away from his loved ones, along with the worry his health will decline.
“It’s scary because of what you don’t know. You don’t know if you’re going to get Pneumonia on your longs or can’t breathe. It’s scary. Your mind starts wandering because you are so isolated,” said Sheriff Brunson.
Before getting sick, Brunson chose not to get vaccinated but only because he has a history of severe allergic reactions. Sheriff Brunson believes getting the vaccine is essential and is considering getting it after he recovers, even though he is worried about an allergic reaction. Sheriff Brunson says it’s an ongoing conversation with this doctor.
“I might have to take that chance and do it because it’s so bad these days not to have the vaccine,” said Brunson.
While many of his deputies did get vaccinated, others, specifically in the black community, are reluctant because of the illegal Tuskegee Syphilis experiment in the 1920s.
“It’s been a real issue here. It is a trust issue. You can’t blame people in Macon county for not trusting after what happened to their ancestors and their loved ones. It’s always been an issue, and it’s even more of an issue with this vaccine,” said Sheriff Brunson.
Brunson hopes trust in the vaccine will build over time as more people get vaccinated. He’s urging folks who still have concerns to talk about the vaccine with a health care professional they know and trust. Sheriff Brunson is worried about his community. Since the pandemic began, the Alabama Department of Public Health reports Macon County has lost 37 people to the virus. So far, more than 400,000 Americans have died.
Brunson says now is the time for families to take extra precaution, specifically socially distancing away from people who don’t live with them.
Sheriff Brunson was adamant about masking and hand washing and still got the virus. As Sheriff, he had to be out in the community and could not socially distance as much as he would like to. He urges others to distance themselves as much as they can from folks who do not live with them.
Sheriff Brunson is thankful for the phone calls and texts of support from the community. He is also grateful for the gifts of food and drink, vitamins, and other care packages.
“I’ve spoken to so many people and had so many calls, and I really appreciate that. I just know prayers help,” said Brunson.
We certainly wish Sheriff Brunson and his family all the best and will keep you updated on his recovery.