Shortages of protective gear during coronavirus pandemic affect Broward deputies, sheriff says

FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla – During a commission meeting Tuesday, Broward Sheriff Gregory Tony said he is struggling to get the appropriate personal protective equipment his deputies need to stay safe during the COVID-19 pandemic.

The Centers for Disease Control and Protection guidelines for law enforcement personnel require deputies to maintain a distance of at least 6 feet, wash their hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds and avoid touching their faces.

“We are very limited,” Tony told Broward County commissioners. “This is a worldwide issue and there are only so many distributors that produce the materials that we need."

Tony didn’t get into specifics about the shortage and how it’s affecting deputies, but he did say he is also worried about how other police departments in Broward County are being affected.

“There have been some municipal cities that are having some issues acquiring equipment," Tony said. “And so as we are doing our internal procurement process for the Sheriff’s Office, we are also considering what happens should ... a municipality fails to acquire this equipment.”

The minimum personal protective equipment the CDC recommends for law enforcement personnel is a single pair of disposable examination gloves, a disposable isolation gown or disposable coveralls, respirators approved by the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health and eye protection such as goggles or a disposable face shield.

“Close contact increases your risk for COVID-19,” the CDC guide warns, adding “law enforcement who must make contact with individuals confirmed or suspected to have COVID-19″ should follow the CDC’s guidelines for Emergency Medical Services, which include the use of facemasks “as an acceptable alternative until the supply chain is restored.”

About the Authors:

Andrew Perez is a South Florida native who joined the Local 10 News team in May 2014.

The Emmy Award-winning journalist joined the Local 10 News team in 2013. She wrote for the Miami Herald for more than 9 years and won a Green Eyeshade Award.