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Long-time DeKalb County Sheriff's Office employee dies due to COVID-19

The DeKalb County Sheriff's Office also announced it will be closed until further notice due to recent COVID-19 cases.
Credit: TEGNA
Melissa Wilkerson, DeKalb County Sheriff's Office

DEKALB COUNTY, Ala. — A long-time employee of the DeKalb County Sheriff's Office has died due to COVID-19, the office announced on Tuesday, August 31.

"Today, we are saddened to announce the passing of Melissa Wilkerson due to COVID-19. Melissa had served the people of DeKalb County by working in our office for the last 32 years. Melissa was very loved by her family and her Sheriff’s Office family. Please keep them in your prayers," the DeKalb County Sheriff's Office wrote in a Facebook post. 

On Sept. 1, the Sheriff's Office released this update:

Our DCSO family is heartbroken to announce the passing of our Pistol Permit Clerk, Melissa Wilkerson, due to COVID-19. Ms. Wilkerson was more than a co-worker; she was a member of our family. Melissa served the citizens of DeKalb County for almost 33 years while working at the Sheriff’s Office. She not only brightened the day of any citizen that came into our office, but also frequently checked on the well-being of our deputies and her co-workers. We ask that you please keep her family and our Sheriff’s Office family in your prayers.

Visitation will be Thursday, September 2nd from 5 pm – 8 pm and Friday, September 3rd, from 10 am -1 pm. Funeral services will be held on Friday, September 3rd at 1 pm in Rainsville Funeral Home Chapel. Burial will follow at Green’s Chapel Cemetery.

Due to increased cases in COVID-19, our Administrative Office will be closed until further notice. Pistol permits will still be available at our website http://www.dekalbcountysheriff.org then (click on Pistol Permits). For those using the mobile version, go to https://dekalbsoal.permitium.com.

If citizens need a report or a copy of a report, they can call our office at (256)845-3801 and a deputy will contact them by phone if the situation allows. For citizens needing to visit an inmate or that have business in the detention center, please use the night entry.

DeKalb County Sheriff Nick Welden said of the incident: “As I try and search for the right thing to say, I can only think of the wonderful memories left behind to hold onto and to keep us pushing ahead in the days, weeks, months and years to come. We are a true family here; we have grown so close in the last few years and been through so much together as a family. We have experienced too much loss at DCSO, and it’s not easy! We have to just cry out to God to help get through it because we will never get over it. We have to put our faith in the Lord’s will and just look forward to the day we are reunited with our sweet Melissa,” said Sheriff Welden. “Please pray for her family and our office that loved her so dear.”

The DeKalb County Sheriff's Office also announced it will be closed until further notice due to recent COVID-19 cases.

Today, we are saddened to announce the passing of Melissa Wilkerson due to COVID-19. Melissa had served the people of...

Posted by DeKalb County Sheriff's Office on Tuesday, August 31, 2021

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Back in May of this year, the CDC said that fully vaccinated people did not have to wear masks in certain places. Many medical experts are rethinking this decision, including UAB Infectious Disease Division Director Dr. Jeanne Marrazzo. 

Marrazzo gave three reasons as to why people in Alabama should consider masking up again:

"One, is because we have such a low rate of vaccination in Alabama. That means we have a lot of uninfected people who are vulnerable to being infected, and who then can infect other people so if we were in a state that was incredibly highly vaccinated, where everybody was protected, I might be a little less likely to recommend that," said Marrazzo.

Most of the COVID-related hospitalizations we see are seeing right now have to do with the Delta variant, which is said to be the most contagious variant yet.

"The second reason is that the Delta virus is so contagious, so much more contagious than the original strains that you need every added layer of protection you can get to avoid getting it, so, especially if you're unvaccinated," said Marrazzo.

Ever since the COVID-19 vaccine made its way onto the scene, there has been talk of a booster shot and that additional doses may be recommended.

As of right now immunocompromised people are the only ones who can receive any additional shots but before too long booster shots will be available to the general public.

Until then, to cut down on what is called 'breakthrough cases', which is when a fully vaccinated person does catch COVID, people can wear masks to decrease their chances of infection.

"Then the third reason is that we are seeing evidence of immunity from the initial round of vaccines starting to wane and that's why the administration last week, floated this idea of booster shots which may start as soon as September 20," said Marrazzo.