LAPD sees surge in COVID cases as most employees not fully vaccinated
The surge comes as the more infectious Delta variant spreads across Los Angeles County
By Josh Cain
Daily News, Los Angeles
LOS ANGELES — The number of LAPD officers and civilian employees testing positive for coronavirus jumped last week to 33, a significant upswing in cases as the department continues to struggle getting its workforce vaccinated.
In the week before last, LAPD saw just one new coronavirus case among employees. In the three weeks before last week, the number of new cases total was 19, Chief Michel Moore said in his report to the Police Commission on Tuesday.
The surge comes as the more infectious Delta variant of the coronavirus continues to spread across L.A. County: Health officials reported 2,067 new COVID-19 cases and 15 deaths. The average rate of people testing positive jumped from 1.2% in the middle June to 5.7% now. And now 900 people are in the hospital, more than double the same figure from early July.
And yet LAPD has largely been unable to get more officers and employees vaccinated six months after they were first offered.
Less than half of the department is fully vaccinated: LAPD numbers as of June 8 showed 5,683 employees, or about 46.5%, had received both shots.
The number who received at least one shot was higher, as 6,321, around 52% of the department.
LAPD officers first began receiving shots, mostly as leftovers from city firefighters who were not showing up for their appointments, in January.
The sluggish numbers belie a department that has been savaged by COVID-19. A total of 2,760 employees, most of whom are sworn officers, have tested positive for coronavirus since March 2020. That's more than 1 in 5.
So far, nine officers and civilians have died. Moore on Tuesday said the department believed at least three spouses of employees also died after contracting COVID-19 that was brought home from work.
Another employee was currently in the hospital in "very critical condition" as a result of COVID-19.
"This virus presents a real and present danger to our personnel," Moore said.
The new cases also come as the city considers a vaccine mandate for employees. Moore said he was speaking to Mayor Eric Garcetti, who he said was "working with labor across the city for vaccination protocols."
On Monday, Governor Gavin Newsom said state employees and health care workers would be required to show proof they're vaccinated or undergo weekly testing and mask mandates.
Other California cities have already instituted vaccine mandates for their employees, as have federal agencies like the Department of Veterans Affairs.
Some LAPD officers continue to be photographed in public not wearing masks as the department requires, leading to ire from public commenters in the Police Commission's weekly meetings. In last week's meeting, Moore said the department had ordered "corrective action" for 55 officers seen without masks when they were supposed to be wearing them.
So far, labor leaders for LAPD officers have encouraged their members to get vaccinated, but have not weighed in on whether they would support a mandate.
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