ST. LOUIS COUNTY, Mo. — A St. Louis County police officer has tested for COVID-19, a department spokesman said Saturday.
Department spokesman Sergeant Ben Granda said the police department does not think the officer contracted the coronavirus while on patrol. No other associated cases are known as of Saturday, Granda said.
"Potentially affected work areas and vehicle(s) have been thoroughly cleaned," Granda said in a press release. "Members of the department who may have come in contact are following a course of action recommended by the St. Louis County Department of Health and the CDC."
Granda said safeguards have been implemented to protect fellow officers and anyone the department serves.
This comes a day after 5 On Your Side learned a St. Louis police sergeant had tested positive for coronavirus and another sergeant was in an ICU and presumed to be suffering from the virus.
Last week, Granda told 5 On Your Side's Christine Byers the department has sent its “non-essential” personnel home to work, which includes the professional staff members of the Bureau of Research and Analysis.
During a police board meeting on March 19, Chief Jon Belmar announced that about 42 School Resource Officers have been moved back onto the streets. He said personal protection equipment, including masks, sanitizer, gloves and other supplies have been ordered and their arrival is "on the horizon."
"This is a big lift not only on the county level or the state level, but on a national level," Belmar told the board.
Belmar added that all training and education courses for officers have been suspended as well as travel for department business.
In addition, the county police department said it will allow officers to take police reports of the phone for certain calls. The officers will be asked to "utilize their judgment, based upon the direction provided at roll call by supervisors" to determine if a report can be taken over the phone.
Officers will continue to report to the scene if a call warrants it, and no calls will go unanswered, the police said.
"It's not that they're not responding to calls, they're just changing how they respond to calls for now," said Joe Patterson, St. Louis County Police Association's Executive Director. "We are of course concerned about keeping the public safe, but our number one goal as an organization is making sure our officers are safe because, without them, there is no one to keep the public safe."
Patterson added that the county is exploring ways to quarantine officers who have been exposed so they do not have to go home and worry about infecting their families.
St. Louis County had 313 confirmed coronavirus cases as of Saturday, according to the state website.