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A Parsons Police Department detective has tested positive for COVID-19, the disease caused by the novel coronavirus, and a second police officer is self-quarantining with symptoms and is awaiting test results.
City Manager Debbie Lamb said in a release on Saturday that the positive case in the police department will not impact police patrol. The department heard of the detective’s positive test result about 8:30 a.m. Saturday.
The detective self-quarantined on Wednesday, April 1, upon noticing symptoms and went to Labette Health’s fever clinic Thursday at the Rector Diabetes Education and Resource Center. The officer tested negative for influenza A and B as well as pneumonia.
However, a COVID-19 test came back positive. The detective, who was not named by the city, was not on a patrol assignment and had been in the police annex, which is separated from the main police facility. No one is using the annex at this time.
He didn’t know how the detective came in contact with the disease other than performing his routine duties. Spinks said the detective didn’t have a lot of contact with the community during the time he may have been able to spread the disease as he was following up on cases.
A second officer had symptoms on Saturday and did not come into work and got tested and Sunday went into self-quarantine until the test results return. Police Chief Robert Spinks said she had worked in proximity to the detective.
Two additional detectives in the investigations unit have been placed in self-quarantine as a precaution. Those officers have not exhibited symptoms, which means they cannot be tested at this time.
Chief Spinks said even though the investigations unit is quarantined, investigations will continue and police have plans in place to maintain staffing and respond to crimes and calls.
Sergeants act as investigators on their shifts and may seek search warrants, and additional investigative help is available from Deputy Chief Dennis Dodd and Sgt. Jason Ludwig. Spinks said in additional he’s looking at creating another investigative position. He said with current staffing the department is not lacking breadth or depth for criminal investigations.
He said he’s also telling officers that the virus hasn’t hit its stride in Kansas, and they should consider this the calm before the storm.
Spinks said he’s been in Louisiana during hurricanes and he said his department should look at this as a slow-moving hurricane and prepare in case the illness, the cough, fever and shortness of breath, hits close to home. He hopes the virus, expected to peak in a matter of weeks, is a “glancing blow.” But it’s difficult for health officers to know where the true virus hot spots are because testing has been limited statewide.
He said if any officer or staff shows signs of the disease, they will go to the fever clinic. If the clinic screens them out, they will return to work. If the clinic recommends a test and quarantine, the department will abide by that, he said.
Last week, staff have deep cleaned the facilities three times. This cleaning was beyond swiping down of tables, chairs and door knobs.
“We also set off a series of disinfectant bombs, vacuuming and all that on top of the normal process,” Spinks said.
Each shift cleans vehicles and police department offices. Employees get their temperatures taken when they show up at the office, he said. If they have a fever, they go to the fever clinic. Other procedural changes create distance between the public and interior police offices and between officers and the public they serve. Some crime reports are taken by phone and other cases are still investigated in person.
“We’re telling people to don’t commit crimes, be on their best behavior. Unbelievably, we’ve seen some response to that,” Spinks said.
Police received donations of cloth masks for officers to wear and the department ordered 4,150 N-95 masks, that have not come in yet.