Cops And COVID: Bethel Park Officer Who Survived Coronavirus Gets Fully Vaccinated

Bethel Park’s police chief said his department has been fortunate when it comes to the number of COVID cases it has had since the beginning of the pandemic. However, it was an experience to remember for some; KDKA's Amy Wadas reports.

Video Transcript

JOHN SHUMWAY: As many first responders in the state are still waiting on their turn to get the COVID-19 vaccine, today we are highlighting three local law enforcement officers who have already battled coronavirus. Here is Amy Wadas with the first part of her three-part series, Cops and COVID.

AMY WADAS: Bethel Parks police chief says his department has been pretty fortunate when it comes to the number of COVID cases it's had since the beginning of the pandemic. We spoke to a police officer here who got sick, and he says he considers himself one of the lucky ones.

ERIC ANIBALDI: All I know is I had it, and I'm lucky that it wasn't worse.

AMY WADAS: Bethel Park Police Officer Eric Anibaldi recalls the moment he realized he probably had COVID-19.

ERIC ANIBALDI: My taste and smell diminished quickly. I started feeling not great in the evenings.

AMY WADAS: That was in November. He got tested and, sure enough, it was the virus. During his 14-day quarantine, he says around four or five of those days were pretty rough. Still, he says it wasn't as bad as he thought it would be.

ERIC ANIBALDI: I've been sicker with other flus and that sort of thing. But it wasn't a whole lot of fun by any means.

AMY WADAS: Officer Anibaldi says the toughest part was the body aches.

ERIC ANIBALDI: I didn't have the breathing issues and the lung issues that are so prevalent in COVID that we've seen so far.

AMY WADAS: But he did have a fever and what felt like a strong head cold.

ERIC ANIBALDI: I know I'm very lucky because I didn't have to go to hospital, didn't have to go see a doctor. I was pretty fortunate.

AMY WADAS: Once he recovered, he says it took a few weeks to get his sense of taste and smell back. But once he did, Anibaldi says he felt as good as new. And now he feels even better because he recently got the second dose of the Moderna vaccine.

ERIC ANIBALDI: Why not take the extra precaution to protect myself? And then that goes for protecting my kids, friends, coworkers.

AMY WADAS: A local pharmacy had some extra shots, so some officers at Bethel Park Police were able to get the vaccine. And with that, Anibaldi says he had some mild side effects. He says he felt sick after the first shot and slightly off after the second. But he says it was a small price to pay for a big reward.

ERIC ANIBALDI: As lucky as I was the first time around, who knows if I would get it again, if I even could, and if I did, how bad it would be?

AMY WADAS: A big concern, especially for someone who works with the public day in and day out. Why he's offering this piece of advice to his fellow officers in blue.

ERIC ANIBALDI: Treat it like anything else. Treat it like any of the other dangers on the job. Be as careful as you can.

AMY WADAS: While masking up, social distancing, and washing your hands at the same time. Amy Wadas, KDKA News.