CLEVELAND HEIGHTS, OH — Eleven Cleveland Heights police officers are in quarantine, city officials told Patch on Thursday. One officer tested positive for the new coronavirus, COVID-19, after attending a "social gathering" with fellow officers while off-duty.
The social gathering was held last week, prior to Gov. Mike DeWine issuing a stay-at-home order for Ohioans, barring public and private gatherings, city officials said. However, on Sunday DeWine ordered all bars and restaurants closed and, a day later, the Ohio primary was moved because it posed a health threat to voters. As early as March 12, DeWine was urging Ohioans to practice social distancing for the sake of protecting themselves and others.
"The governor's order at that time was to limit the size of a gathering to 50 or less," a spokesperson for the city said. "The police officer attended a small get-together with much fewer in attendance than the order directed. They were not in violation of any government order at that time. The other officers in attendance have been quarantined and are being monitored carefully. Our concern now is for a full recovery of our officer and the health and well-being of the other officers."
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In a statement posted to social media, Police Chief Annette Mecklenburg said 10 of the 11 police officers at the gathering are not experiencing symptoms of COVID-19. There are approximately 100 patrol officers employed by the Cleveland Heights police department.
The department is working with the county board of health on safety protocols.
"We have no other confirmations of infection in the police department and exceptional measures have been taken to protect our other officers and the public. This is a reminder that we need to heed the governor's orders to stay at home unless it is essential to go out and to maintain the social distancing of six feet,"City Manager Tanisha Briley said.
A thorough cleaning of police property was also conducted.
Briley then commended the Cleveland Heights police and fire departments for their continued service during this crisis. She also asked residents to not call 911 if they have a fever or are coughing.
"As a reminder to everyone, it is important that residents do not call 911 if experiencing fevers or coughing. The exception to this would be if you are experiencing difficulty breathing. These unnecessary calls put a strain on our resources, and supplies are limited at this time. Please be sure to call your doctor or an urgent care facility for diagnosis and recommended course of action," Briley said.