A dozen police officers test positive for COVID-19; officials investigating outbreak

The Long Beach Health Department and Police Department are investigating a COVID-19 outbreak after 12 police officers and one civilian employee in three different divisions tested positive for the virus in the last two weeks.

Officials had started investigating the outbreak last week when two officers in the North Division and one in the South Division tested positive on Nov. 6 and 7.

Now the outbreak has expanded to include the West Division too, officials said.

“The Departments are working together to investigate and conduct contact tracing to identify additional staff who may have come in close contact with the infected officers,” officials said in a statement.

It’s so far unclear what came of the investigation from last week or how the outbreak started.

Health officials said those who may have been exposed are being notified and told to quarantine. Employees in all three divisions are getting tested and workplaces have been cleaned and disinfected, officials said. LBPD is enforcing mask wearing, distancing and other COVID-19 safety protocols, a spokeswoman said.

“We are still investigating the LBPD outbreak so we can’t yet assign the source or sources,” said city spokeswoman Jennifer Rice Epstein.

The outbreak comes as COVID-19 case numbers are exploding in the state and Los Angeles County, hitting a record-breaking 5,000 new reported cases on Thursday in LA County alone.

As of Nov. 12, the LBPD had seen a total of 44 cases of COVID-19 since the pandemic began. The last time officials saw a large outbreak hit public safety personnel was in March when the virus swept through a Long Beach fire station, infecting at least 10 firefighters.

The Los Angeles Police Department has seen a total of 759 employees test positive for COVID-19, including two officers who died in July. The Los Angeles Fire Department has had 270 employees test positive for the virus and one firefighter die from coronavirus-related complications in July.

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Valerie Osier is the Social Media & Newsletter Manager for the Long Beach Post. She started at the Post in 2018 as a breaking news reporter. She’s a Riverside native who found her love for journalism while at community college. She graduated from the Cal State Long Beach journalism program in 2017 and covered the Palos Verdes Peninsula for the Daily Breeze prior to coming to the Post. She lives in Long Beach with her husband and two cats.