A California police chief pleaded with White House officials to “stop testing NBA players” for coronavirus and to screen first responders instead, according to a report.
Vacaville Police Chief John Carli made the urgent request Friday as an hour-long conference call wrapped up between the International Association of Chiefs of Police and officials from the White House and Department of Homeland Security, ABC News reports.
“If we’re quarantining [our] people for 14 days … we’re going to lose our first responders,” Carli said on the call. “And we have to, at a national level, get the support down to the local level. Stop testing NBA players, and start testing our first responders.”
Utah Jazz forward Rudy Gobert was the first NBA player to be diagnosed with COVID-19 on March 12. Since then, eight teams have been screened for the illness, leading to 13 additional cases among players, coaches and staffers, the Wall Street Journal reports.
Despite the availability of testing for some in the NBA, Carli said his department has been forced to rely on “backchannels” at a nearby hospital in order to get his officers tested.
“Somebody needs to make a decision at the very high level so that we’re not having to have these decisions made [this way],” Carli said on the call, which was reviewed by ABC News.
Carli’s call for action came as a New Jersey State Police official complained that federal privacy laws were putting officers’ health at risk since they do not provide exact locations of confirmed coronavirus cases.
“We’ve already had a case where a positive test was out breaking the quarantine, driving around with just a mask on,” the unnamed police official said.
Another top cop on the call, a police chief in Norwood, Massachusetts, said what his officers now face on a daily basis is largely unrecognizable from their duties just three weeks ago.
“Our core mission at this point is not only public service but sustainability,” Chief Bill Brooks said. “I need the police department to be operational and healthy 60 days from now.”
Police departments and other law enforcement agencies across the country have lost “significant portions” of their workforces due to quarantine and confirmed COVID-19 cases, according to the report, including several thousand Department of Homeland Security employees out of work in recent weeks.
In New York, NYPD officials said there were 98 confirmed cases of as Sunday, with twice as many cops calling in sick as usual.
“The belief is, with very limited information, that it wasn’t contracted at work but from family members,” Police Commissioner Dermot Shea told reporters.
Elsewhere, in Dallas, some cops “are clamoring” to be tested for the bug despite relatively low risks of exposure, Dr. Alex Eastman said during Friday’s conference call.
But only about one of every 10 cops potentially exposed to COVID-19 need to be tested, said Eastman, who suggested those on the call take a long-term outlook.
“There’s going to be a rough few weeks, maybe [even] a couple of months,” Eastman said. “But we’re going to get through this.”
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