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April Newsletter 2020

April left as quickly as it came, and as we venture into the new month of May, it’s important for our community to be aware of the new executive order signed by Gov. Brian Kemp on April 30, 2020. Georgia’s shelter-in-place was lifted May 1; however, the order will remain in place for the elderly and those considered “high-risk” until June 12, 2020. 
With the shelter-in-place order lifted, many businesses across Georgia are now open to the public. The Sheriff’s Office highly recommends each individual to wear a face mask in public while following the social distancing guidelines. Only you can protect our community, your family, and yourself from COVID-19.
The executive order signed by Gov. Kemp on April 30, 2020, outlined those who must shelter-in-place through June 12, 2020, and the guidelines businesses must adhere to if they reopen to the public. In-depth information from the executive order can be found at the bottom of this newsletter.
As always, stay safe and God bless you.

Newton County Sheriff’s Office offers online C.H.A.M.P.S. course

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Newton County Sheriff Ezell Brown and his C.H.A.M.P.S. team published seven online C.H.A.M.P.S. courses, beginning April 13th, in light of Gov. Brian Kemp closing all schools for the remainder of the academic year to minimize the spread of COVID-19. The courses provided school-aged children with the tools they needed to face any situation that may come their way.

The courses were published twice a week through the Sheriff’s Office’s social media pages and official website. Topics covered in the courses included internet safety, bullying, peer pressure, safety rules at home, leaders and followers, alcohol, and gangs.

“While this is totally different from teaching them face to face, these online courses are still a way for us to connect and make a difference in our students’ lives,” Deputy Favel Edwards, C.H.A.M.P.S. instructor, said.

Newton County Sheriff’s Office, judges reduce jail population

Sheriff Ezell Brown and the Newton County judges are actively working together to reduce the Newton County Jail population amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

The jail population was significantly reduced by more than 130 inmate residents as of May 8th. Inmate residents will continue to be released following court orders. Active work release inmates and weekenders will be monitored by Newton County deputies following release.

As of May 8th, there has not been a COVID-19 outbreak within the facility.

“We strongly feel that we safeguarded ourselves from the threat of an outbreak because of the precautions we have taken so early on,” said Sheriff Brown. “We will continue to work daily with the Newton County judges, the District Attorney’s Office, the State, and probation offices to continue the effort in reducing the jail population. The health and safety of our entire staff and inmate residents have been top priority.”

Since early March, the Sheriff’s Office has implemented numerous preventive measures to ensure the safety of its inmate residents. The Sheriff’s Office temporarily suspended its Weekender and Work Release programs, temporarily suspended all on-site visitation, offered free vaccinations to inmate residents, and much more.

Additionally, the Sheriff’s Office designated two areas within the jail for quarantine should an individual show any symptoms of COVID-19: E-2 for new arrestees and medical for inmate residents.

Covington restaurants provide food to Newton County deputies, jail staff

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Many restaurants in Covington stepped forward to help first responders on the front lines during the COVID-19 pandemic.

In dark times such as these, small acts of kindness help shine light and give hope for a better tomorrow. The Newton County Sheriff’s Office deputies who are putting their worries aside to serve and protect the community were provided food and drinks from Dunkin’ Donuts, McDonald’s, and Papa John’s.

Vineyard/Miller McDonald’s Owner Kristen Vineyard fed all four patrol shifts at the Sheriff’s Office once a week for a month. Dunkin’ Donuts General Manager Kelly Duke provided coffee and donuts to all Sheriff’s Office deputies, jail staff, and Covington-Newton 911 employees. Brandon from Papa John’s provided pizza to the Sheriff’s Office Detention Center.

Additionally, BP and Amoco offered a discount on gas for all first responders for the month of April.

"I am hu blackmask photombled by the kindness that the Newton County community has shown to our deputies during this pandemic. I must say I serve the ‘BEST’ county in Georgia, and I wouldn't have it any other way” Sheriff Ezell Brown said.  “I would like to give a special thanks to Dunkin’ Donuts, Vineyard/Miller McDonald’s, Papa John's, BP, and Amoco. We couldn’t do this without each of you. Let us continue to work together.”

Community Fellowship Baptist Church donates masks to Sheriff Ezell Brown and his deputies


On Wednesday, April 15th, Community Fellowship Baptist Church in Covington donated more than 150 cloth masks to Sheriff Ezell Brown and his deputies so they could protect themselves from COVID-19 as they continue to serve the community.

The cloth masks were handmade by one of the church’s members.

“We are so thankful for your service, always, for those who protect and serve. Especially during times such as these,” said Pastor Brian Bullard.

Sheriff Brown was gifted his very own monogrammed mask to wear.

“Community Fellowship Baptist Church provided me and my team with the protection we need to stay safe while serving and protecting our community. Thank you for taking the time out of your day to make these masks for us,” said Sheriff Brown. “If we continue to work together as a community, I know we will make it to the other side of this pandemic. I’m blessed to serve a community that has come together to help those in need during these troubling times.”

Emmanuel Community Church donates essential supplies to the Newton County Sheriff’s Office

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On April 20th, Emmanuel Community Church in Conyers donated more than 10,000 essential items to Sheriff Ezell Brown and the Newton County Sheriff’s Office in an effort to keep all deputies and detention staff well-taken care of amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

“It is our sincere prayers that these small items might be a reminder that many are praying for the safety of you and your families during this COVID-19 pandemic,” said Senior Pastor Dr. Eric Suddith.

Senior Pastor Dr. Suddith and the Emmanuel Community Church donated the following items to the Sheriff’s Office:

• 1,000 gloves
• 1,275 wipes
• 8,000 paper towels
• 348 ounces of hand soap (34 refillable units)
• Nine cans of disinfectant
• 240 cups
• 500 coffee cups
• 500 paper plates
• Three 30-ounce tubs of Folgers Coffee (720 6 fluid ounces)

“I am overwhelmed by the amount of support shown in our community during these troubling times. A donation of this size will go a long way in protecting my deputies and detention staff as they continue to work through this pandemic,” said Sheriff Brown. “I would thank you from the bottom of my heart, but for you, my heart has no bottom. We could not be who we are without a community like you.”

Newton County Sheriff’s Office and Georgia National Guard test local government employees and inmate workers for COVID-19

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On April 21st, the Georgia National Guard assisted the Newton County Sheriff’s Office Medical Team in testing more than 200 local government employees and inmate workers for COVID-19 in an effort to reduce the spread of the virus.

The Georgia National Guard has been disinfecting nursing home facilities throughout the state over the past few weeks to minimize the outbreak. The National Guard, in a coordinated effort with the Georgia Sheriff’s Association and the Governor’s COVID-19 Task Force, provided testing at sheriff’s offices in counties hit the hardest by the virus, upon request.

Sheriff Ezell Brown and the Newton County Sheriff’s Office requested the National Guard to test local government employees and inmate workers out of an abundance of caution. Local government employees tested for COVID-19 included the Newton County Fire Department, Newton County EMS, Clerk of Courts Linda Hayes, Newton County Sheriff’s Office, and Newton County Commissioners staff.

An estimated 174 local government employees and 31 inmate workers were tested.

“Newton County EMA Jody B. Nolan and I expressed concerns about the safety and health of our detention officers, deputies, and staff at the Newton County Sheriff’s Office as confirmed cases continue to rise in our community,” said Sheriff Brown. “In an effort to ease those concerns, the Governor’s COVID-19 Task Force coordinated plans with the Georgia Sheriff’s Association to perform tests at sheriff’s offices.

“We are grateful the Georgia Sheriff’s Association selected our county to be tested so we can prepare ourselves in these troubling times. As Benjamin Franklin once said, ‘By failing to prepare, you are preparing to fail.’”

Newton County Sheriff’s Office implements video visitation

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The Newton County Sheriff’s Office knows how important it is for individuals to connect with their loved ones during this unprecedented time. In an effort to continue visitation amid COVID-19, the Sheriff’s Office has implemented video visitation.

As of Thursday, April 23rd, video visitation is live and can be utilized by individuals wishing to speak with their loved ones. More than 40 inmate residents have successfully connected with their loved ones via video since the service went live.

Listed below, you will find the instructions for setting up an account for video visitation:

Step 1: Create an account through HomeWAV by visiting HomeWAV.com or downloading the free mobile app on your phone.

Step 2: Select the Newton County Sheriff’s Office as your facility of choice. Select the inmate resident you wish to speak with and add funds to enable the inmate resident to communicate.

Step 3: Once the Newton County Sheriff’s Office approves your account, wait for the inmate resident to initiate the call.

Step 4: Stay logged in to your account as you wait to ensure the inmate resident sees that you are available.

The Newton County Sheriff’s Office will not resume on-site visitation until it is safe to do so.

The Sheriff’s Office is committed to ensuring the safety of all its staff, deputies, detention officers, and inmate residents. All individuals will be notified as soon as a decision has been made to resume on-site visitation. Please continue to monitor the Newton County Sheriff’s Office’s social media pages and official website for news and updates.

COVID-19 Resource and Information Guide provided by the Newton County Sheriff’s Office

On Monday, April 27th, the Newton County Sheriff’s Office released a Resource and Information Guide aimed to provide every individual with important information that could potentially save a life during the COVID-19 pandemic.


Do you need support? Please know you are not alone.
Crises Counselors are available 24 hours, 7 days a week for free by texting SHARE to 741741.
The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline is available 24 hours, 7 days a week for free by calling 800-273-TALK (8255)
The Trevor Project, for the LGBTQ community and their friends, can be contact 24 hours, 7 days a week by calling 866-488-7386 or by texting “START” to 678678.
The Trans LifeLine can be contact 24 hours, 7 days a week by calling 877-565-8860.

Need to request a welfare check?
Call 911.

Think you may have been exposed to COVID-19?
Please call your local healthcare provider or an urgent care clinic. Please do not show up unannounced to an emergency room or healthcare facility; you could put others at risk.

Need to contact the COVID-19 hotline?
The COVID-19 hotline can be contacted by phone via 844-442-2681.

Want to be tested for COVID-19?
FREE drive-through testing is available through the Rockdale, Gwinnett, and Newton County Health Departments. Appointments available Monday through Saturday. Please call 770-513-5631 to schedule an appointment. The call center is open 8 a.m. to 7 p.m. on Monday through Friday and 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Saturday.

Need to contact the Sheriff’s Office?
For all emergencies, call 911. For all non-emergencies, call 770-784-2100.
You can contact our office by calling 678-625-1403 from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m., Monday through Friday. We are committed to serving our Newton County community; contacting us by phone will increase response time and provide you with the best possible service.


  • Limit your daily and weekly news consumption because watching the same news over and over again can increase stress and anxiety
  • Always verify news sources before sharing anything; false information spreads fast on social media
  • The CDC and Georgia Department of Public Health are great resources for information on COVID-19
  • Following daily routines can help you feel in control of your life, such as making your bed and getting dressed
  • Exercise helps improve both mental and physical health; it’s important to keep moving as part of your daily routine
  • Find a routine that works with your needs and abilities; not all routines require equipment and can be done for free in the comfort of your home
  • Talk with your primary physician if you do not typically exercise on the daily or have any health concerns
  • Free exercise videos can be found on YouTube, such as dance routines, yoga, cardio, etc.
  • Mindfulness can help reduce stress, as proven in medical research
  • Practice medication to help feel calmer and more relaxed; you can download meditation apps on your phone
  • Meditation apps include Headspace, Calm, Simple Habit, Intimind (Spanish), and Liberate
  • Try breathing exercises to help stay calm; may also be helpful in managing anxiety
  • Breathing exercises to try include Diaphragmatic and Box Breathing
  • Stay connected with others through phone calls, emails, social media, and video calls
  • Always ask for help when you need it; offer to help your friends and family, if needed
  • Virtual activities are a great way to stay connected; play video games, do at-home crafts over video call, read the same book, watch the same movie, or join an online exercise class
  • Keep in touch with family and friends who have limited social contact, such as the elderly and those with chronic health conditions


The CDC offers a self-checker guide through their website to help you make decisions and seek appropriate medical care.

If you are sick with COVID-19…

  • If you have tested positive for COVID-19, you must not leave your home unless you need medical care or an emergency occurs, such as a fire.
  • If seeking medical care, call ahead to alert your provider that you have COVID-19.
  • The CDC recommends keeping 6 feet away from others, if possible.
  • You should stay away from others in your household, if possible.
  • You should wear a face mask when around other individuals. The mask does not need to be a N95 respirator.
  • Wash hands often with warm water and soap for a minimum of 20 seconds.
  • If soap is unavailable, use hand sanitizer.
  • Clean doorknobs and countertops throughout the day.
  • Wear gloves and make sure to have good ventilation while cleaning.
  • Seek medical attention as soon as possible if symptoms worsen, such as difficulty breathing
  • You must remain under home insolation until no fever has occurred for at least 72 hours, other symptoms have improved, and at least seven days passed since the first symptoms appeared

 If you suspect you were exposed to someone with COVID-19…

  • You should monitor your symptoms and avoid going out in public, including work and school, for 14 days
  • Notify your friends, coworkers, family, etc. if you suspect you were exposed so they can also monitor for symptoms
  • Notify your healthcare provider if you are age 60 or above as you may have an increased risk of infection. Call ahead; do not arrive unannounced at the doctor’s office.


How to get care when you don’t have health insurance or a regular provider…

  • Our recommendation is to use HealthCare.gov to see if you qualify for affordable healthcare
  • Medicare is expanding their telehealth resources to allow you to see a provider over chat or video call
  • Determine the cost of the plan; compare deductibles, monthly premiums, co-pas and/or co-insurance
  • Determine whether the providers you want to see are covered under the plan
  • Determine how much the plan will cover for your prescription medications

 How to get immediate care when you are uninsured…

  • Update on health care access for immigrants and their family members can be found on the National Immigration Law Center website
  • Sign up for updates through the National Immigration Law Center
  • Immigrants can continue to receive health care at community health centers, regardless of immigration status
  • Some immigrants are eligible for Medicaid, the Children’s Health Insurance Program, and the Affordable Care Act health exchange
  • A list of medical care and assistance available to immigrants can be found at the National Immigration Law Center’s website


  •  The Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act provides assistance for both individuals and small businesses
  •  Information on assistance programs and charity organizations aimed to help individuals pay their bills can be found at needhelppayingbills.com
  • Aunt Bertha is an online resource that connects user to free and reduced medical care, food, housing, transportation, etc.
  • 211 helps with referrals to agencies and community organizations that offer emergency financial assistance to those in need
  • Information about government programs that help with bill payment, temporary assistant, jobs/unemployment, credit, etc. can be found at usa.gov/help-with-bills
  • Feeding America operates food banks throughout the states to reduce hunger
  • Various school districts, including the Newton County School System, is providing free breakfast and lunch to school-aged kids Monday through Friday. Visit the NCSS’s website for more information regarding locations for meal picks ups in Newton County.
  • Consult with your bank or lender about loan options and what is most beneficial for you and your business
  • The Georgia Department of Small Businesses is offering Disaster Assistance to small businesses economically impacted by COVID-19. The deadline to apply for the loan is Dec. 18, 2020.
  • The U.S. Small Business Administration has a resource page that provides a list of relief programs for small business owners
  • Small Business Majority also has a resource page for small business owners

Acts of Kindness from the Newton County Sheriff’s Office

Deputy Matthew Robinson and Deputy Shelton Herbert

On April 2nd, Deputy Robinson and Deputy Herbert responded to a cardiac arrest call at a residence in Covington. Upon arrival, Deputy Robinson began to assist Fire Department personnel in CPR. They were able to perform potentially life-saving measures through the use of an AED and a breathing apparatus.

While on-scene, Deputy Herbert was able to gather essential tools necessary for transporting the patient, allowing the medics to administer medication to the patient. The chances of the patient’s survival greatly increased due to the actions of both Deputy Robinson and Deputy Herbert.

Before departing to the hospital, it was determined the patient regained a pulse.

Deputy Matthew Robinson and Deputy Clifford Williams

On April 2nd, Deputy Matthew Robinson and Deputy Clifford Williams responded to a call referencing an unconscious person at Chapman’s Convenience Store in Covington. Upon arrival, deputies identified the person’s symptoms as those associated with drug overdose.

Deputy Robinson was able to deploy his issued Naloxone spray. Within a couple of minutes, the victim regained consciousness and was able to walk to the ambulance.

Deputy Avery Williams, Deputy Freda Holloway, Deputy Andy Holcomb, and Deputy Lee Goodin

On April 2nd, Deputy Freda Holloway, Deputy Andy Holcomb, and Deputy Lee Goodin were dispatched to a residence in Covington in reference to a heroin overdose. Deputy Avery Williams was close by when the call came in, and he was able to arrive on-scene to assist.

Deputy Williams deployed his Naloxone spray; a second dose was needed and one of the other responding officers provided theirs. Due to quick actions of all deputies involved, the victim was able to regain consciousnesses.

Georgia’s shelter-in-place order lifts

Georgia’s shelter-in-place order was lifted for most people on May 1, 2020; however, the order will remain in place for the elderly and those considered “high-risk” until June 12, 2020, as stated in Gov. Kemp’s new executive order signed April 30, 2020.

Who Must Shelter In Place Through June 12, 2020?

  • People 65 years of age or older
  • People living in nursing homes or long-term care facilities
  • People with chronic lung disease
  • People with moderate to severe asthma
  • People with severe heart disease
  • People who are immunocompromised
  • People with Class III or severe obesity
  • People with diabetes, liver disease, or chronic kidney disease undergoing dialysis
Large Gathering Ban
Businesses, establishments, corporations, organizations, and local governments cannot allow more than 10 people to gather in a single location unless a 6 feet distance can be maintained. A “single location” is defined as a space where all people gathered cannot maintain at least 6 feet between each other.
The exceptions to the large gathering ban include: 
  • Cohabiting people, family units, or roommates
  • Critical infrastructure
  • Transitory or incidental grouping
  • Dining rooms and restaurants — no more than 10 guests per 500 sq. ft., excluding hallways, bathrooms, and spaces closed to guests.
Basic Rules For Bussiness
The following businesses may resume limited operations, effective April 24, 2020:
  • Gyms and fitness centers
  • Barbers
  • Barbering schools
  • Body art studios
  • Cosmetologists
  • Cosmetology schools
  • Estheticians
  • Esthetics schools
  • Hair designers
  • Massage therapists
  • Nail care schools
  • Tanning facilities
  • Bowling alleys
These businesses must meet the mandatory criteria PLUS all mandatory criteria for non-critical infrastructure.

The following businesses may reopen if they meet the mandatory criteria stated in the attached documents below, effective April 27, 2020:

  • Indoor movie theaters and cinemas
  • Restaurants and dining room, including those at private social clubs
These businesses must remain closed until 11:59 p.m. on May 13, 2020 unless extended:
  • Bars and nightclubs
  • Operators of amusement park rides
  • Live performance venues
  • Public swimming pool
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