The Atlanta Police Department has confirmed a second officer has tested positive for the disease caused by the coronavirus.
The officer, who tested positive for COVID-19 earlier this week, works in the field, said APD spokesman Carlos Campos. On Saturday, the agency announced an officer who worked at APD headquarters, out sick since March 11, had contracted the disease.
» COMPLETE COVERAGE: Coronavirus in Georgia
Both officers are home, recovering in isolation. So, too, are “a small number of officers” who are “either sick and awaiting tests or diagnoses, or quarantined for a variety of reasons – including living with a family member who has tested positive or is showing symptoms,” Campos said.
“These officers continue to represent a small minority of the department, and will return to work as soon as they are cleared,” he said.
Atlanta police union representative Ken Allen said officers are taking the cases in stride.
“I think we’re a week or two away from reaching our peak (of infected officers),” Allen said.
In an effort to stem possible outbreaks, officers are being encouraged to eschew physical arrests for non-violent crimes. Instead, a copy of charges will be provided for offenders who are not deemed a danger to the public, Campos said.
Those who are arrested will now be required to wear a mask when transported to jail. Officers will also being wearing masks when interacting with the public, Campos said.
Campos cited ongoing cleaning efforts by a professional decontamination company, with priority given to locations where officers have tested positive.
“We continue to emphasize that APD expected the COVID-19 pandemic would affect our staffing – as it has law enforcement agencies all across the nation -- and developed a contingency plan with a priority on ensuring we are able to respond to emergency calls,” Campos said.
A lower than usual call volume has helped, “and there is no degradation to our ability to respond to 9-1-1 calls,” he said.
The virus started creeping into metro Atlanta’s police stations and detention centers last week. Positive tests were recorded at Fulton and DeKalb jails, and on Wednesday a staff member at the Metro Regional Youth Detention Center in DeKalb contracted COVID-19, the Georgia Department of Juvenile Justice confirmed.
The employee, who last reported to work on March 16, did not have contact with the youth population as part of their job.
“This is the first confirmed case of COVID-19 within a DJJ facility, and at this time, no other youth or member of the workforce population has shown symptoms of the virus,” said DJJ Commissioner Tyrone Oliver.
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