MIAMI, Fla. – First responders on the frontlines are feeling the impact of the rampant community spread of COVID-19.
Like the rest of the community, the city of Miami’s Police department is also experiencing an uptick in COVID-19 positive case numbers explains Chief Jorge Colina – Colina himself tested positive in April. Also, a delay in test results has also hampered the department’s ability to keep up.
“Internally we have our own surge. In the first few months, we had about 30 officers that were COVID positive throughout that entire time. In the last few weeks – a month or so – we have 68 officers that are COVID positive and about 11 civilian employees,” Colina told Local 10.
Working with contact tracers, the department also has additional personnel self-isolating out of precaution.
“151 police officers are at home quarantined,” Colina said.
The department it also dealing with lab capacity issues, like most of Florida, which is creating a lag in test results.
“Sometimes we are able to get an officer tested pretty quickly but there will be a delay when we get those results back. Obviously, throughout that whole time, we have to keep them isolated at home.”
The chief said response times of responders to emergency calls are not being impacted because of a plan drafted in March called “Patrol Ready,” which places other personnel — like tactical unit members into patrol officer positions.
“Now the second we are able to test them and clear them, we bring them back, but it has been a challenge for us no doubt,” Colina said.
At the Miami-Dade Police Department there are safety protocols in place, which include face coverings for all department staff and patrol officers inside the building and also when they are outside in public. Another change is in the daily roll call, which happens before each shift, usually indoors, now held outdoors.
At the Broward Sheriff’s Office — the second highest ranking officer — Undersheriff Nichole Anderson tested positive for the coronavirus. BSO said she is recovering at home with minor symptoms.
Since the pandemic began in March, BSO reports that 281 employees have tested positive.
“If they test positive, we have contract tracing, the proper notifications,” said BSO’s Veda Coleman-Wright.
Colina summed up what is happening at Miami’s police department: “We are getting hit pretty hard, just like everyone,” he said.
- Key Biscayne Police Chief tests positive for COVID-19.