Based on evolving information, Watsontown Police Department Chief Rodney Witherite clarified to NorthcentralPA.com this evening that in fact none of the troopers at the Watsontown rally tested positive for COVID-19.
Shifting information from an official source led to a number of conflicting media reports about COVID-19 and the Watsontown protest.
Chief Witherite clarified the situation by phone this evening.
"Four troopers from the Milton barracks assisted us at the protest. The chief of police at Milton said that two of those troopers were tested positive for COVID. The captain of the PSP Sherman Shadle called me just a couple hours ago and confirmed that every trooper at the rally tested negative for COVID," Witherite said.
The Milton PSP station was shut down "sometime after the demonstration," according to Witherite.
"We're not saying those at the scene had COVID," Witherite clarified. "Their captain is saying they did not have COVID, they tested negative but they came from a station that had an outbreak of COVID here recently and they shut it down. So all the officers involved at the protest needed to be tested just in case."
Approximately 27 first responders from four police departments will be tested for COVID-19 due to the potential for exposure, Witherite indicated.
"We have 24 hours. We’re waiting for test results to come back from everybody," Witherite said this evening.
The departments who responded to the protest were state police at Milton, Milton Borough Police, Northumberland County Sheriffs Department, Union County Sheriffs Department, the Watsontown Police Department, according to Witherite.
"We don’t want a possible infection or outbreak," Witherite said. "We have to work every day."
Several civilian workers from Watsontown Borough assisted with traffic control at the protest, according to the chief.
Police are in the process of determining which hospitals will take care of testing for the first responders and when, according to Witherite.
"We were there just to protect everybody," Witherite said.
Approximately 200 people attended the protest.
Correction: A previous version of this story misquoted Troop F Public Information Officer Angela Bieber. The Milton PSP barracks has not yet reopened.