Philadelphia police

Philly Police Union Concerned About Coronavirus Spreading in the Ranks

Some officers are hospitalized and many more are quarantining after exposure, causing concern for the Fraternal Order of Police.

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Several Philadelphia Police officers are hospitalized with the coronavirus as cases spike in the city, region and nation.

"We have a couple in the hospital. We have a number quarantining. Even here in our building we’ve had a number of people that are out with it," said John McNesby, who heads the Fraternal Order of Police Lodge 5, the officers' labor group.

Commissioner Danielle Outlaw has said she is confident the department can maintain staffing levels in the pandemic.

City officials have not publicly stated how many officers have tested positive or are quarantining due to exposure to the virus.

Another concern for the union is having enough personal protective equipment (masks, gloves, etc.) and keeping their vehicles disinfected.

"You could have 4 or 5 people using that car in one day," McNesby said. "We’re trying to keep the cars clean. We’re trying to keep our officers safe."

More people are staying indoors as cases rise and the weather gets colder, especially after the city announced new coronavirus restrictions this week.

Wednesday, the police department announced it was temporarily closing its Gun Permits Unit due to positive coronavirus cases.

The department said all facilities where infected staff were present would be sanitized and deep cleaned.

But officers can't work from home. McNesby mentioned that during the pandemic, officers responded to protests and large gatherings. That poses several risks, he noted, like being in a crowd, some of whom may not have been wearing masks.

Additionally, officers have been packed onto buses during some large-scale police responses.

“There’s two sets of rules- one for the protesters and the folks that are out there in the streets and the rules for the officers and the general public abiding by the rules,” McNesby told NBC10.

Crowds of people surged into the streets Nov. 7, the day several news organizations called Pennsylvania and the presidential race for Joe Biden. The city health department later urged those who celebrated to quarantine for two weeks.

So far, the health department has not seen evidence connecting virus spread to the election result revelry.

"At this time, the Department of Public Health has no clear evidence of spread of coronavirus as a result of voting or election-related activities," the department said in a statement. "However, it is possible that some spread occurred without such evidence. The Health Department continues to recommend that police officers and FOP members wear masks to protect themselves and others."

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