At least 13 Miami police officers have been sent home with COVID-19 virus symptoms in the past week as some South Florida police agencies increase screenings for the virus.
As of an update late Friday morning, 113 people inside Miami-Dade County have tested positive for the virus. That ranks second in the state behind Broward County, with 124 cases.
That’s led the city of Miami and Miami-Dade County police forces to begin screening officers for symptoms of the novel coronavirus.
According to a review by the Miami Herald, no Miami-Dade County police officers have been sent home as of yet. And while those 13 Miami cops are self-isolating, no officers have yet tested positive.
Many have expressed worry about health workers’ exposure to the virus. The more of those workers who contract the virus, the fewer workers will be available to care for the sick.
But similar concerns abound regarding first responders, who routinely interact with the public as well.
Miami Beach firefighters are also being screened at the beginning of each day. An outbreak within a unit could leave a city or county without vital services during the coronavirus pandemic.
“We don’t have anything in our combined years of experience like this,” said Miami Police Chief Jorge Colina, according to the Herald.
“We’re communicating. But ultimately, we’re open to suggestions from anybody. We’re trying to figure out what’s the best way.”
Last week, Miami Mayor Francis Suarez tested positive for the virus after making contact with Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro press secretary, Fabio Wajngarten.
But the Miami Police Department was also affected after its motorcycle unit escorted the Brazilian delegation. That ended with the full 21-member motorcycle unit self-quarantining out of precaution.
Those officers have since been tested, with three already cleared to return.
The city has seen fewer arrests as social interaction has been reduced more and more in the preceding weeks, allowing Miami Police more freedom to have officers self-quarantine when needed.
The death rate for those who test positive for the virus has sat above 3%. However, those calculations do not include individuals who may have contracted the virus, but are asymptomatic and thus survive without incident. Including those individuals would lower the death rate, but it’s unclear how many such individuals there are worldwide.
Most who do show symptoms develop a fever or cough and may have trouble breathing, though they do recover. But older individuals and those with underlying health risks are susceptible to developing more severe symptoms.