Chicago Police Keep Working Despite Coronavirus Exposure | WBEZ
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Chicago Police Tell Cops Exposed To COVID-19 To Keep Working

The Chicago Police Department is telling officers to keep coming to work, despite their exposure to a confirmed case of COVID-19.

CPD was notified Thursday morning of its first member to test positive for the coronavirus.

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."

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.”

“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 said especially with the shortage of test kits, it’s important for everyone who has been exposed to the coronavirus to self-quarantine, but it’s especially important for people like police officers, who not only risk their coworkers, but the general public.

“[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.

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 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.

He did not answer questions about why the department decided to advise those who work in close proximity to the infected employee to keep coming to work.

Patrick Smith is a reporter on WBEZ’s Criminal Justice Desk. Follow him @pksmid. Email him at psmith@wbez.org.

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