LOS ANGELES—Eighty-four Los Angeles Police Department (LAPD) employees tested positive for COVID-19 in the last week and two additional employees were hospitalized, according to LAPD Chief Michel Moore, who said on Aug. 24 it was a “substantial increase” from last week.
A total of 2,977 employees have tested positive for the virus as of Monday, and the increase in the last week is almost double the number who tested positive the previous week, when 45 LAPD employees tested positive. Two employees were hospitalized this week, but the four who were in the hospital last week were released and are at home recovering.
Moore told the Los Angeles Police Commission on Tuesday that 26 of the new cases are concentrated to the Central Community Police Station in downtown Los Angeles. Protective measures are being taken at the station, including restricting front desk access, in an effort to reduce the infection rate, Moore said.
Meanwhile, all Los Angeles city employees, including police, are required by a new ordinance to be fully vaccinated by Oct. 5, unless they have a medical or religious exemption. However, Mayor Eric Garcetti must sign the ordinance before it becomes law.
The mayor announced in July that city employees would have the option of a weekly COVID-19 test instead of the vaccine, but the ordinance adopted by the city council on Aug. 18 did not allow that option.
On Aug. 6, the San Francisco sheriffs’ union warned that around 160 of its 700 members could resign due to their own city’s vaccine mandate. In contrast, the LAPD has nearly 10,000 police officers and around 3,000 civilian staff.
“The problem we are faced with now is the strict San Francisco Mandate, which is vaccinate or be terminated. If deputy sheriffs are forced to vaccinate, a percentage of them will retire early or seek employment elsewhere,” the San Francisco Deputy Sheriffs’ Association said in a statement.
As of July 21, 47 percent of LAPD’s employees were fully vaccinated and 52.2 percent had received at least one dose, according to the LAPD, which reported that 60.2 percent of department personnel have some immunity from either getting vaccinated or previously contracting the virus.
The latest figures from the Los Angeles County Department of Public Health show that 73 percent of county residents age 12 and over have received at least one dose of vaccine, and 63 percent are fully vaccinated.
The LAPD on Monday began its mobile vaccination clinic deployment in an effort to increase the COVID-19 vaccination rate within the department.
Each station will have a clinic that runs for 20 hours per day, allowing night shift and day shift employees to get vaccinated. On its first day of deployment, which was in the San Fernando Valley, 19 LAPD employees got vaccinated, Moore said.
As part of the department’s effort to get LAPD employees vaccinated, it internally distributed a video with testimonies from employees who have contracted and survived COVID-19, Moore said.
“One of the accounts is an individual who was vaccinated and came down with COVID and was still hospitalized and was in very serious condition,” Moore said.
“In his testimony, he’s convinced that, as his doctors are, absent that vaccine, he would have been in much graver condition and could have lost his life because of underlying health conditions.”
That employee was the only hospitalized LAPD member who was vaccinated, Moore said. The video also includes a story from a woman whose husband worked for the LAPD and died of COVID-19. He contracted it before the vaccines were available.
“As a consequence of the COVID virus, she lost him and her testimony also included that she was still hesitant to take the vaccine until her remaining children mentioned to her that she was their only parent … and that pulled on her and convinced her that this was something that she needed to engage in despite her hesitations and her concerns for the safety of the vaccine,” Moore said.