Chicago, IL — California has been locked down with their governor skirting the idea of Martial Law, the rest of the country is following suit, people shutter themselves inside and those who have been exposed are being told to self-quarantine for 14 days. Curfews are rolling out, businesses closed, millions unemployed, and a national lockdown is looming as governments attempt to stop the spread of COVID-19. There is one group of people, however, who are remaining on the streets in spite of their exposure — cops.
According to the CDC, if you come in contact with someone who tested positive for COVID-19, you should monitor your health for fever, cough and shortness of breath during the 14 days after the last day you were in close contact with the sick person with COVID-19. You should not go to work or school, and should avoid public places for 14 days.
We could not find the section in their guidelines that says cops should not follow these recommendations.
Nevertheless, on Thursday, the Chicago police department notified its officers that a member of the force has tested positive for COVID-19. Following the notification, the cops who worked in close proximity to the infected officer were told to stay on the job.
In an email sent to department employees, interim Chicago Police Superintendent Charlie Beck wrote that "all members who work in close contact with this individual have been notified and advised to continue to report for work and self-monitor for any symptoms."
This move is being met with harsh criticism from health experts.
As WBEZ reports, Dr. Robert Murphy, executive director of the Institute for Global Health at Northwestern University’s Feinberg School of Medicine said the decision to tell people who have had direct exposure to a case of COVID-19 to keep coming to work is “wrong.”
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“I mean, if we want to get rid of this thing, everybody in close proximity to that person should be quarantined at home,” Murphy said. “We're so behind in the testing still. But anyone with close contact has to be in self-quarantine. I mean, that's just, I don't think there's any question.”
Murphy explained how the shortage of test kits makes us vulnerable and therefore everyone exposed should self-quarantine for 14 days. He said that for cops, self-quarantine is especially important since they not only put their coworker's health at risk, but the general public as well.
“[Officers will be] interacting with the public, interacting with people who may end up in prison or jail. Who then could spread it in jail? You know how hard it is to isolate people in a jail? I mean, it's gonna be a nightmare if that happens,” Murphy said.
According to WBEZ, in a statement, department spokesman Anthony Guglielmi said CPD is working with the Department of Public Health “to identify all individuals who were in contact with the member.”
Guglielmi ensures the public that they wiped down the officer's area, so there is nothing to worry about.
Guglielmi said once they were notified of the positive COVID-19 test, “the department began a thorough cleaning and disinfection of the facility where the employee was stationed. The employee’s work area and any vehicles and equipment used by the individual are also being cleaned.”
“The health and safety of our employees is the utmost priority,” Guglielmi said. But given the department's current policy, that statement rings hollow. What's more, it appears that the department couldn't care less about the public's health either. Given their history with illegal and violent raids on countless innocent families, this information should come as no surprise.