Hundreds of police officers exposed to coronavirus
Hundreds of police officers have been exposed to the coronavirus, and confirmed infections are expected to climb as testing becomes more widely available, according to the National Police Foundation, which launched an online data portal tracking the virus’ spread through American law enforcement agencies.
The tracking tool, which relies on agencies' voluntary reports, so far only reflects a tiny portion of the 18,000 or so police departments across the country. But it provides a glimpse of the virus’ potential to deplete their ranks. As of Wednesday afternoon, about 300 officers had been exposed, and 250 officers were unable to work, according to the portal.
The numbers do not include the New York Police Department, where more than 100 officers have tested positive, and more than 2,000 employees have called out sick.
James Burch, the foundation’s president, said police are desperate to get officers tested quickly so they can more effectively quarantine those who have been infected. Some agencies have put large numbers of officers in isolation because they may have been exposed.
The data portal also measures police shortfalls in protection equipment, including masks and gloves.
"The data shows a lot of officers exposed but not a lot diagnosed," Burch said. "We assume that's because there's not a lot of testing out there yet, but once testing improves we might see an increase."