Los Angeles’ police and fire departments are experiencing a wave of staffing issues amid the latest surge in coronavirus cases, with hundreds of offices and firefighters off-duty in each department, officials said Wednesday.
The Los Angeles Fire Department had 284 personnel out of action Wednesday due to positive COVID-19 tests, the highest number reported by the department during the pandemic so far.
The previous high was on Jan. 1, 2021, when 209 employees tested positive for the virus. The department has a total of 3,246 uniformed fire personnel and 353 civilian employees, according to its website.
An additional 41 members of the department are on unpaid leave for not complying with the city’s COVID-19 vaccination mandate, which required that city employees get vaccinated against the virus by Dec. 18 or file a religious or medical exemption.
Meanwhile, a total of 416 sworn Los Angeles Police Department officers and 80 civilian employees were quarantined after testing positive for COVID-19 as of Saturday, the department reported.
The LAPD said that despite the high levels of personnel off-duty, it is meeting staffing requirements throughout the city and its core services are not disrupted.
“The department is prepared to make adjustments to our staffing, including the reallocation of resources in the event it becomes needed, however, we are not at that point,” an official in the LAPD’s Media Relations Division told City News Service on Wednesday. “We continue to meet the demands needed and will ensure Angelenos public safety needs are met.”
With the highly transmissible Omicron variant of COVID-19 fueling the latest surge, Los Angeles County’s case numbers have been skyrocketing over the past couple of weeks. The county reported nearly 45,000 new cases over the weekend, following a daily record high of 27,091 new infections on Friday.
The number of COVID-19-positive patients in Los Angeles County hospitals on Wednesday surged to 2,461, with 330 being treated in intensive care.
The hospitalization number is the highest it has been since last February. Due to rising patient numbers, the county Department of Public Health on Monday urged residents to avoid visiting hospital emergency rooms unless they urgently need emergency care.