COVID-19 surge at LAPD and Sheriff's Department keeps over 2,000 personnel at home

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LOS ANGELES, CA - AUGUST 06: Chief of the Los Angeles Police Department Michel R Moore carries the United States flag to present to Megan Flynn, domestic partner who is pregnant with twins of LAPD Officer Valentin Martinez, the agency's first sworn employee to die of complications from the COVID-19. The social distance memory service was held at Forest Lawn Hollywood Hills' Hall of Liberty this morning. Martinez was a 13-year veteran of the department and is presumed to have contacted the virus on duty. He was 45 when he died on July 24, 2020, leaving behind his mother, Maria Martinez, his siblings and his domestic partner, Megan Flynn, who is pregnant with their twins. Los Angeles on Thursday, Aug. 6, 2020 in Los Angeles, CA. (Al Seib / Los Angeles Times)
LAPD Chief Michel Moore carries a flag to present to the partner of the department's first sworn officer to die of COVID-19 in August 2020. The disease was the leading cause of death for officers in the U.S. last year. (Al Seib / Los Angeles Times)

More than 2,000 employees of the Los Angeles Police Department and Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department are at home sick or quarantining after testing positive for the coronavirus, officials said Wednesday.

LAPD Det. Meghan Aguilar said that some 1,134 personnel out of 12,200 are currently at home, including 898 sworn officers. Those numbers are up 42% from the 803 personnel who were out Jan. 11.

On average, an LAPD officer sidelined with a coronavirus infection is missing 20 days of work and a civilian employee is missing 33 days, Aguilar said. Officials noted that average includes some personnel with long-term COVID-19 cases who have spent months recuperating.

The new figures represent a massive increase from the 82 new cases among LAPD personnel during the week ending Christmas, and from fewer than 30 new cases per week as recently as a month ago.

On Wednesday, the Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department had 874 personnel quarantined out of about 18,000 employees, with 618 sworn deputies among them.

The LAPD has seen a surge in the number of vaccinated officers and other employees testing positive this month. On Jan. 1, 22.2% of those testing positive were vaccinated, but by Jan. 15 that number had risen to 43.3%.

The Omicron coronavirus variant is causing more breakthrough cases among vaccinated personnel but also producing less severe symptoms, officials said.

Early this month, LAPD Chief Michel Moore appeared with Mayor Eric Garcetti and Los Angeles Fire Chief Ralph Terrazas to reassure residents that the agencies were still filling patrol shifts and responding to fires despite the increasing numbers of ill and quarantining officers, firefighters and paramedics in the city. At that time, there were just over 500 LAPD personnel out, less than half of this week's number.

Moore said at the time that the LAPD had “more levers” to pull to avoid falling below its minimum patrol requirements.

COVID-19 was the leading cause of death last year for law enforcement officers in the U.S., with 301 dying of the disease, according to the National Law Enforcement Memorial and Museum.

Meanwhile, in California's prisons, 4,676 employees and 5,080 inmates are currently infected with the coronavirus.

This story originally appeared in Los Angeles Times.

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