On Friday, a member of the Lake City Police Department tested positive for covid-19. The officer is currently in isolation at home and is in good condition. The officer had not exhibited symptoms and received a voluntary test as a precaution, as have many other first responders.
“First and foremost, I am saddened to confirm covid-19 has hit the Lake City Police Department family, and our thoughts are with our officer for a full recovery and a quick return to public service,” said Police Chief Argatha Gilmore.
After learning about the test results, Chief Gilmore contacted Columbia County Health Department Director Thomas Moffses, who is now monitoring the Police Department and assisting with their response. The Officer who tested positive is receiving consultation from the Department’s Director of Nursing, Marjorie Rigdon. In the time since the test results were received, several conference calls have been held to screen other employees and their families and give them advice moving forward
A review of the Officer’s contacts over the past two weeks showed that the officer has not transported any prisoners or had any prolonged direct contact with any members of the public. Four additional members have been tested and are awaiting results. They will also self-isolate at home until the results are available.
“Our Department has been proactive in taking as many precautions as possible to reduce exposure for our officers and the public, and we will continue to do so," said Chief Gilmore. "We have worked tirelessly to prepare in the event that one of our employees tested positive. I want to reassure the community that we remain fully operational and able to deliver responsive public safety services.”
Within the Department, Social Distancing protocols have been in place for weeks, which has helped limit contact between officers while working. Patrol shift briefings were moved outdoors with officers standing at least 6 feet apart. Officers have been provided with personal protective equipment, such as masks and gloves, to wear when they come in close contact with members of the public. Medical grade sprays are used to deep clean and sanitize the back seat of all patrol cars after any arrests.
Many calls for service, which would normally be handled in-person as a matter of customer service, have been handled by phone instead. Yesterday, LCPD also rolled out Online Reporting to further limit unnecessary contact between Officers and members of the public. Additionally, enhanced self-monitoring, including daily temperature checks, will begin immediately.
“This also serves as a reminder why CDC Guidelines are so important. This Officer showed no symptoms, and had the officer not volunteered for a precautionary test, would not have even known,” said Chief Gilmore. “While certain activities might be deemed as essential, please keep this in mind when you decide to leave your home whether it is something you truly need.”