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Thousands of LAPD officers awaiting vaccine; chief says supply ‘severely’ limited

LAPD officers were scheduled to begin a mass COVID-19 vaccination at the end of January, but that’s now changed

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Brian van der Brug/Los Angeles Times/TNS

By Josh Cain
Daily News, Los Angeles

LOS ANGELES — At least eight Los Angeles Police Department employees are currently in the hospital suffering from COVID-19, the city’s police chief said, as the department waits to start mass vaccinations of officers in earnest.

Chief Michel Moore said on Tuesday, Jan. 26, at least three of those hospitalized employees are in “very critical condition.”

So far, six LAPD employees, including four officers, have died from COVID-19. Moore announced the sixth death, Officer Philip Sudario, on Monday.

The deaths come amid a surge in infections among LAPD’s ranks: Since Dec. 15, around 1,230 employees have tested positive for the coronavirus. That’s nearly half of the department’s total number of infections since the beginning of the pandemic.

In that time, hundreds were confined to their homes, and some were hospitalized. Two of LAPD’s deaths came in the last two weeks.

The increase in positive cases of the virus among LAPD officers and other employees comes as the vast majority of the department waits for vaccinations.

The rollout of vaccines in tiers — with the first wave dedicated to healthcare workers and elderly people in nursing homes — meant police officers were scheduled to start receiving their vaccines at the end of January, Moore said on Tuesday. That process was meant to start after L.A. city firefighters all got vaccinated.

“We were supposed to begin the mass vaccination of the department in the next week to week and a half,” Moore told the Police Commission during the panel’s virtual meeting.

But supplies could be short for a bit. Moore said he’d been informed recently the number of vaccines now available had been “severely impacted and reduced,” throwing that timeline into doubt.

“There’s a kink in the hose someplace,” he said.

Around 2,000 LAPD employees have already been vaccinated because they registered to get in line to receive leftover doses that firefighters or healthcare workers didn’t use, Moore said. That still leaves at least 7,000 employees who said in a survey they were willing to get vaccinated as soon as possible. In all, the department has 13,000 employees.

Police Commissioner Steve Soboroff said he was frustrated that some vaccine doses were apparently going to young people who stood in line for hours to receive leftovers.

Supply issues also hampered Los Angeles Fire Department’s initial efforts, according to a spokesman. But since then, the department has ramped up its vaccination process for firefighters. Chief Ralph Terrazas did acknowledge that some were showing reluctance to immediately getting their doses.

It was not clear Tuesday exactly what percentage of L.A. city firefighters have been vaccinated so far. City officials did not immediately respond to a request for the current vaccination numbers.

(c)2021 the Daily News (Los Angeles)