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11
Mar 2020
Keeping police officers healthy during coronavirus is essential. Here is what LAPD is doing
The LAPD issued a list of new guidelines for dealing with the coronavirus.(Brian van der Brug / Los Angeles Times)
Richard Winton

One of the biggest concerns as coronavirus spreads is the impact it could have on first responders, potentially reducing the number of officials able to handle emergency service.

The Los Angeles Police Department, along with other law enforcement agencies, is already working to help prevent its officers from getting sick though a series of new guidelines and procedures.

Los Angeles Police Asst. Chief Horace Frank said all patrol officers and officers likely to come into contact have been issued a kit consisting of multiple sets of gloves, a bacteria protection mask and goggles.

Officers are directed to use all three items when during a response or public contact they learn of a possible individual with the virus.

The department has already backordered 100,000 extra masks, but the officers will not wear masks as a routine matter.

Among the LAPD guidelines:

• Thoroughly cleaning and disinfecting work stations, vehicles, and surroundings.

• Maintaining good health, getting enough rest, maintaining a moderate exercise program, eating healthfully, avoiding tobacco use, etc.

• Keeping current on vaccinations.

• Staying home when sick, and respectfully requesting that others do the same.

• When interacting with a member of the public exhibiting upper respiratory symptoms (sneezing, coughing), provide them a surgical mask if one is available, or stand six feet away.

• Wearing proper Personal Protective Equipment (PPE). In the case of interacting with members of the public suspected of having COVID-19, that equipment could incude masks, safety googles, face fields, nitrile gloves.

“When contacting a member of the public exhibiting respiratory symptoms (sneezing and coughing), thought should be given to the necessity of making contact versus risk of possible exposure,” the guidelines say. “If time permits and contact is necessary, PPE should be worn. If there is no need to approach within six feet, it is generally safe to remain outside of six feet without PPE. Finally, if a suspect exhibiting symptoms is in custody and must be transported in a police vehicle, PPE should be worn.”

The LAPD, like most employers, also has advised employees who are ill to stay home.

“Chief [Michel] Moore is always concerned about protecting the health of officers. We have been working with the Los Angeles Police Protective League to come up with a plan to provide proper protection and assist to our officers as they go about their duties,” Frank said.

Gov. Gavin Newsom said Tuesday that California has 157 confirmed cases of COVID-19 and that thousands of residents may have come into contact with the disease. The United States has surpassed 1,000 coronavirus cases, with most in Washingon state, New York and California.

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