There are 29 Los Angeles Police Department officers and five department civilian personnel who have contracted the coronavirus, one of whom is in critical condition, Chief Michel Moore told the Board of Police Commissioners Tuesday.
The others are recovering at home. The majority of the cases have been identified in officers working out of the LAPD’s downtown and central locations, Moore said.
“I’m proud of the work of the men and women of LAPD. I think that they, during some troubling and unsettling times, have risen to the occasion wonderfully and are at risk today, as every American is,” Moore said. “The LAPD has not been immune (from the coronavirus).”
Since LAPD officers and employees started testing positive for COVID-19, about 75 additional officers have been tested, with about half coming back negative, Moore said. The rest are awaiting results.
The city’s Emergency Operations Center released a statement Tuesday afternoon reporting that 32 LAPD employees had tested positive for COVID-19, but they could not be immediately reached for clarification regarding the discrepancy between that figure and Moore’s.
The LAPD has also been taking temperatures of employees to make certain they do not have a fever, a symptom of the coronavirus.
City officials also reported that seven members of the Los Angeles Fire Department have tested positive for COVID-19, two of whom have recovered and returned to duty.
The department is taking extensive measures to clean its facilities, not just along frequently touched surfaces but in every crevice it can find in an attempt to eliminate the virus, Moore said.
Certain areas of the department’s offices have been restructured in order to create better social distancing, Moore said.
As police officers remain at home with symptoms of the virus or to recover from it, Moore said he has taken steps to cancel planned vacations and increase the hours of officers who have not been affected in order to maintain a visible presence throughout the city.
The LAPD is working to support the county’s Department of Public Health to identify hospital rooms that could be used for coronavirus patients or locations to turn into field hospitals, such as is being done at the Los Angeles Convention Center, Moore said.
Moore said officials believe about 46,000 additional hospital beds are needed to handle the expected “peak” number of cases.
“As it’s currently being moderated, it is believed that the need for surge hospital capacity is doubling in size,” Moore said.
Moore said the city’s neighborhood ambassadors, attorneys employed by the City Attorney’s Office and based out of police stations, have begun contacting businesses defined as “non-essential” during the emergency to inform them that they must close.
The LAPD has benefited from Mayor Eric Garcetti’s activation of the Disaster Service Worker Program, which redeploys people who have not been able to work during the pandemic to essential jobs that are needed at this time, Moore said.
Moore said it’s important that the public take responsibility for keeping the spread of the virus as low as possible, and noted the LAPD has been providing instruction to people who are not complying with the local and state Safer at Home orders.
The LAPD has also reached out to nonprofit organizations and other organizations to address the problems of Skid Row, where scores of homeless people are not practicing social distancing, Moore said.
But overall, Moore said the homeless encampments around the city have started to adhere to the social distancing guidelines.
Crime has gone down compared to this time last year, Moore said, and he attributed those statistics to people staying home during the pandemic.
Major crimes have gone down 9% and violent crime by 6%, Moore said.
However, traffic-related crimes have been on the rise, as traffic in Los Angeles is at its lowest amount in about 50 years, tempting people to drive too fast, he said.
A two-car crash during a predawn street race in the Hancock Park area on Monday killed three men.
The Los Angeles Department of Transportation is reducing speed limits in certain areas in an attempt to curtail the trend, Moore said.
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