First responders in the Tampa Bay area who have contact with the public are starting to test positive for COVID-19.
Tampa Police Department Chief Brian Dugan announced Wednesday that a 26-year-old officer who just started on the job has tested positive for coronavirus.
The officer was hired in August and had last worked on March 15.
In a Facebook Live video posted Wednesday afternoon, Dugan said the officer became sick while off-duty. On March 18, he self-quarantined and was placed under a doctor’s care. His test came back positive for COVID-19 Wednesday.
Dugan said the officer's condition is improving, and no other members of his squad have reported symptoms.
Tampa police officials clarified information about other officers Thursday: 30 officers are under quarantine - another 45 are being monitored by the department's nurse.
“It’s nearly impossible for our police officers to do their jobs without potentially being exposed to this virus,” said Dugan.
Three officers were relieved of duty Tuesday night because they performed CPR on a person who later died, according to Dugan. They’re waiting to see what that person’s cause of death was before the officers are allowed back on the streets.
“We can handle the bombs and the bullets and the blood, but it’s the unknown virus that we can’t see, that’s what makes our job so dangerous and so difficult,” Dugan added.
St. Petersburg Police Department officials say an employee in their Emergency Communications Center has also tested positive for coronavirus.
Four other employees who may have had contact with the sick worker are under self-quarantine.
According to St. Pete Police, the employee came back to work from an out-of-town trip March 16 and stayed home sick March 18. He has not returned to work since then. He tested positive for COVID-19 Wednesday.
Maintenance crews sanitized the Center on March 18 and continue doing so several times a day. A St. Anthony's volunteer is onsite twice a day, Monday through Friday, checking employees' temperatures.
The Center has 77 call-takers and dispatchers for 911 and non-emergency calls. The new building is large enough for the employees to maintain suggested social distance guidelines.
"We're not looking at arresting people. We're not looking at putting people in jail," Dugan said. . "But let me be perfectly clear - if you break the law, we're going to arrest you. The Hillsborough jail is open for business. And we are going to enforce the law, no matter what that is. And that's what people need to understand."
The countywide curfew would go from 10 p.m. to 5 a.m. weeknights; and from 10 p.m. Friday to 5 a.m. Monday.
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