Cops And COVID: 'It Kind Of Shut Down Our Family,' State Trooper Says

KDKA's Amy Wadas shares the toll coronavirus has taken on a state trooper and his family.

Video Transcript

- As many first responders remain on the COVID vaccine waiting list, we're highlighting three local law enforcement officers and their personal battles with the virus. Last hour, we shared the story of a Bethel Park police officer. Now, you're about to hear the toll the virus has taken on a local state trooper and his entire family.

- Here's Amy Wadas with the second part of her series, "Cops and COVID."

JIM LONG: Most of January was a pretty boring month for us.

AMY WADAS: Boring, yes, but also a month filled with sickness for Pennsylvania State Police Trooper Jim Long. He and his family all got COVID-19 as it spread through their household.

JIM LONG: My wife got it. My-- both my kids were presumed positive. So it kind of shut our family down. And, unfortunately, it shut some sports teams down too, that I'm involved with.

AMY WADAS: Long says he was really down for the count for about three days. But he was actually off work for several weeks. He says he felt awful, and he knew something was off when he couldn't taste or smell.

JIM LONG: The stomach pain was the worst symptom that I had. I had no respiratory issues. I had no fever.

AMY WADAS: Ironically, Trooper Long got his first COVID shot the day before he got sick.

JIM LONG: Unfortunately, it wasn't soon enough in my case.

AMY WADAS: Long developed a slight cough the day after his first dose of the Pfizer vaccine, then found out he had COVID. First responders are part of Pennsylvania's phase 1b vaccine rollout, which hasn't happened yet. But Trooper Long considers himself one of the lucky ones because he already got the shot here at Butler Memorial Hospital.

A spokesperson with Butler Health System said it considered law enforcement part of the state's original 1a distribution plan prior to the new rule out, recently announced.

JIM LONG: I was lucky I was contacted by a local health-- health care provider, and they said, hey, we have extra vaccines if you're interested. We went through, you know, all the people on the list, and we have extra ones. So I took the opportunity to get it.

AMY WADAS: Trooper Long has now had his second dose, and he says he hasn't had any side effects other than some soreness in his arm. One thing he wants others to learn from his experience.

JIM LONG: 'Cause no matter what the precautions are, and no matter how safe you think you're being, if there's any symptom whatsoever, even if it's a slight cough like I had that went away in 24 hours, take it seriously.

AMY WADAS: And for his brothers and sisters in blue, he says that's especially important.

JIM LONG: The idea of being a public servant is you have to be available. So if I'm unavailable 'cause I'm sick, then I'm not helping anybody.

AMY WADAS: Trooper Long is now back on the job, helping others, and hopeful he gets his sense of taste and smell back soon. Amy Wadas, KDKA News.