LBPD COVID-19 outbreak continues with 6 more employees testing positive

Long Beach officials continue to report more COVID-19 cases spreading through the police and fire departments since they revealed there was an outbreak two weeks ago.

On Monday, officials announced six more police department employees tested positive for COVID-19 between Nov. 19 and 25. Four of these employees were assigned to the South Division, which includes Downtown, one employee was assigned to the airport security detail, and another was assigned to the park ranger station.

The health department also reported two public-facing fire department employees tested positive for COVID-19, including one employee assigned to Fire Station 1, who was last at work on Nov. 19, and one assigned to Fire Station 16, who was last at work Nov. 21.

“As the COVID-19 transmission rates continue to rapidly increase locally and across the state, the rise in cases among public-facing Long Beach Police Department and Long Beach Fire Department employees is reflective of this trend,” city spokeswoman Chelsey Finegan said. “The City remains committed to ensuring proper training for employees and has safety protocols in place for all staff at City facilities and out in the field.”

She noted that the health department does not believe the fire department cases are associated with the police department outbreak.

Health officials have been investigating the outbreak that appears to have started in early November with a dozen police officers testing positive for the virus, but beyond the positive tests, they have not released any information about where the chain of infections may have started. Each time there is an outbreak, employees who may have been exposed get tested and workspaces get disinfected, officials said.

Officials have been steadily reporting new cases from public safety personnel who interact with the public: One police department employee in the South Division who was last at work Nov. 20 tested positive for the virus last week and four public-facing fire department employees also tested positive. The fire department employees were each last at work between Nov. 16 and 20.

The outbreak comes as COVID-19 case numbers and hospitalizations continue to surge at alarming rates throughout Los Angeles County.

Editor’s note: This story has been updated with statements from a city spokeswoman.

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Valerie Osier is a breaking news and crime reporter for the Long Beach Post. 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.
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