The new cases mark the highest spike among the agency in months
Since the deadly Capitol riot on Jan. 6, 38 Capitol Police officers and about 150 National Guard members have tested positive for COVID-19, officials told CBS News. According to the New York Times, most of the Trump supporters who attacked the Capitol were not wearing masks, raising fears that the insurrection would become a super-spreader event that would not only expose law enforcement officers to the novel coronavirus, but also expose local residents.
“The union is very concerned and has been voicing its concerns with the USCP [United States Capitol Police] chiefs since March 2020,” Gus Papathanasiou, chairman of the U.S. Capitol Police Labor Committee, wrote in an emailed statement to DCist. “The union had been pushing the department for testing and recently pushing for vaccines, but the incompetence of the USCP chiefs of police, both former and current with the new acting chief and assistant chiefs, speaks volumes of the lack of leadership at the top of the USCP.”
The 38 — and possibly counting — officers join a growing number of people infected since the Capitol riot, including seven members of Congress. A source told the Times that Capitol Police officers were given rapid COVID-19 tests to determine which other officers may have contracted the virus from the riots that took place earlier this month. DCist reports that the new cases mark the highest spike among the agency in months.
“The continued systemic failures of this Department is unacceptable and the congressional community as well as the officers that put their lives on the line every day deserve better than being led by inept chiefs of police,” Papathanasiou said.
The Metropolitan Police Department (MPD) has also seen an uptick in COVID-19 cases: On Jan. 6, 498 personnel tested positive; and on Jan. 21, another 82 tested positive, making it a total 580 cases.
“At this time, MPD is not able to ascertain if officers who have tested positive for COVID-19 contracted it as a result of working during the insurrection at the Capitol on Jan. 6,” a spokesperson for the department said in a statement. “MPD officers continue to show up day after day during the public health emergency, putting their health at risk in order to serve the residents and visitors of the District of Columbia.”
According to NBC 4 reporter Mark Segraves, acting MPD Chief Robert Contee said some platoons were “hit harder than others.” And according to Huffington Post reporter Matt Fuller, Guard members and USCP officers are “worn out” due to working 12-hour days since the insurrection.
“The USCP and the National Guard have coordinated their efforts to ensure that National Guardsmen and women are stationed throughout the Capitol Complex are in appropriate spaces within Congressional buildings, including the U.S. Capitol, where they may take on-duty breaks,” the National Guard Bureau Public Affairs stated in a press release published today. “Off-duty troops are being housed in hotel rooms or other comfortable accommodations.”
According to the DC Police Department’s Twitter, MPD’s Command staff received their first COVID-19 vaccination today.
“We are excited to be leading this charge as we work to vaccinate all of our members in order to keep our communities safe and stop the spread of the virus!”
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