COVID cluster reported at NC police department days after vaccine event, officials say

Simone Jasper
·2 min read

A coronavirus cluster was reported at a North Carolina police department the same week it participated in a COVID-19 vaccine clinic, officials say.

Six people within the Waynesville Police Department received positive COVID-19 test results, the Haywood County Health & Human Services said Friday in a news release.

Two days earlier, “several” police department workers received their first doses of the COVID-19 vaccine, according to officials. The health department didn’t say whether those who participated in the clinic also tested positive.

The Moderna and Pfizer vaccines don’t completely protect against the coronavirus, and people must get two doses to make them as effective as possible, McClatchy News reported earlier this month.

“It typically takes a few weeks for the body to build immunity (protection against the virus that causes COVID-19) after vaccination,” the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said on its website. “That means it’s possible a person could be infected with the virus that causes COVID-19 just before or just after vaccination and still get sick.”

The Waynesville Police Department in a statement shared with health officials said it will continue to take precautions while serving the area roughly 30 miles west of Asheville.

“The Waynesville Police Department has taken the necessary steps to identify those affected and exposed,” the statement said. “We are thankful that those that have been affected are home recovering and getting the care they need. While navigating these cases, there has been no lapse in service.”

The department also said its workers are required to be in close contact with community members as part of their jobs. In North Carolina, first responders and other “frontline essential workers” are among the first groups eligible for COVID-19 vaccines.

As vaccines are rolled out, health officials continue to urge people to take steps to help stop the spread of the coronavirus.

“Not being vigilant about wearing a mask in the workplace at all times not only leads to more spread but also causes loss of workforce that can have dire effects on essential businesses,” Garron Bradish, interim public health director for Haywood County, said in the news release.

It’s not the first time a group of coronavirus cases was reported within a Western North Carolina department that handles emergencies.

In December, five workers at the Macon County 911 Communication Center tested positive for the virus, McClatchy News previously reported. The local sheriff’s office reported a cluster days earlier.