A New Jersey police department is taking protective measures to the next level as they continue to serve their community amid the coronavirus pandemic.
Police in Barnegat Township, which has at least 150 COVID-19 cases, are wearing disposable Tyvek suits during their shifts. Barnegat Twp. Ptl. Bryan Nogowski told NBC10 the suits aren’t for comfort or style but protection instead.
“It doesn’t look great,” Ptl. Nogowski told NBC10. “It doesn’t feel great. They’re warm but in the end it keeps us healthy. It keeps everybody working for the most part.”
Along with disposable gloves, the officers also have N-95 masks, protective goggles and even face shields they can wear if needed. Their reusable gear is then sterilized in an ultraviolet cabinet on loan from the local school district.
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In addition to the protective gear, a backpack unit is used to spray antiseptic solution inside and outside patrol cars on every shift. The officers’ external vests are also disinfected with a UV lantern.
“I think we see what’s happening statewide and if we don’t give the officers adequate protection, we lose them to either a quarantine for two weeks or we lose them worse to a positive COVID result,” Barnegat Township Police Chief Keith Germain said.
The 50-member department started proactively purchasing the suits and other personal protective equipment back in late February as cases surged in Europe.
“There was nothing that led us to believe we were going to have any different results here than they were having there,” Chief Germain said.
Chief Germain told NBC10 they spent about $30,000 on the protective gear, much of it reimbursable through FEMA.
“It’s nice to know that we have it because there are places, hospitals and police departments that don’t have the equipment that we have and it definitely makes it easier going into a situation,” Ptl. Nogowski said.
Chief Germain said the department has enough supplies on hand to last through the summer.