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Second Dallas police officer tests positive for coronavirus

The Dallas Police Department announced just before midnight Friday that a second officer has tested positive for the new coronavirus.

The officer tested positive Friday and was last on duty March 12, according to a news release from the department. The statement said the officer is self-isolating and doing well.

The officer works in the Central Patrol Division, the release said. On Thursday, the department announced the first positive COVID-19 test result among its ranks, that one from the Northeast Patrol Division.

With a second case confirmed, the virus has now found its way into two of the seven patrol divisions that exist outside police headquarters.

Dallas Police Chief U. Renee Hall and Dr. Alex Eastman, the department's chief medical officer
Dallas Police Chief U. Renee Hall and Dr. Alex Eastman, the department's chief medical officer
One co-worker who had close contact with the officer from Central is in isolation as a precaution, the release said. The department’s chief medical physician, Dr. Alex Eastman, is working closely with police who may have been in contact with and exposed to the officer.

The department said it is working with Dallas County Health and Human Services on any other needed steps. In the meantime, the city is having a contractor clean and sanitize the Central Patrol Division building, which is on South Hall Street in Deep Ellum.

As in the new case, the department said Thursday that the officer from the Northeast Patrol Division was in self-isolation at home and doing well.

Similar self-isolation protocols were put in motion for co-workers who had contact with that officer, and the city was cleaning and sanitizing the division, which is on Northwest Highway just east of Audelia Road in Lake Highlands.

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Dallas police officer tests positive for coronavirus as department plans for possible reduction in staff
The Dallas Police Department employs more than 3,100 people, of whom 60 percent are patrol officers on the streets. On Thursday, The Dallas Latest News reported on internal emails that outline steps Police Chief U. Renee Hall has already instituted or plans to take as ways to stem the spread of the virus:

Effective this week, department employees are not to take extra time off without prior approval.
All sworn officers, including those on desk duty who have traditionally been allowed to wear civilian clothing, will be required to work in uniform in case more officers are needed on the streets on short notice.
A healthcare professional hands a checklist to a patient at a drive-thru testing site for COVID-19 at United Memorial Medical Center Thursday, March 19, 2020, in Houston. For most people, the coronavirus causes only mild or moderate symptoms, such as fever and cough. For some, especially older adults and people with existing health problems, it can cause more severe illness, including pneumonia. (AP Photo/David J. Phillip)
Dallas County will open 2 large drive-through coronavirus testing sites this weekend
The testing sites will likely give Dallas County the biggest boost in identifying people with the coronavirus to date.
Changes to the number and length of shifts that officers work are planned, as needed, to cover any gaps in staffing owing to an outbreak.
Visitors to police headquarters are being limited. The department plans to begin screening visitors, as well.
According to Friday’s late-night news release, Dallas Press Release Distribution Service the department has issued 3,200 bottles of hand sanitizer and 6,000 boxes of gloves to employees, and officers have been given commercial cleaning and sanitizing products for their vehicles.

“We know that some of our officers will contract the virus,” the release said. “DPD is prepared to address the issue with sound medical advice from our experts as well as a contingency plan to maintain operations to keep the community safe.”

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