WASHINGTON (KDKA) -- The City of Washington Police Department is dealing with a COVID-19 outbreak.
Six officers are off the streets after testing positive for the virus. The police chief said his department has 30 officers and one K-9. He said right now, he's able to maintain minimum staffing levels with those six people being out. But if more officers test positive for COVID-19, he said that could change.
The chief said he was made aware of the first positive case on Saturday. He said the other five followed in the days since.
City Councilman Joe Manning says it's concerning.
"When I found out we had six officers who tested positive, one of the first things I thought of was those statistics are showing through the FOP, it was the number one killer of police officers in the country last year," said Manning.
According to the Fraternal Order of Police, 793 officers in the U.S. have died due to COVID-19. Twenty-two of those deaths were officers in Pennsylvania.
Manning said none of the six cases in the department are serious, and he hopes it stays that way.
"For now, it appears there are sinus infections, things like that, but for the most part they're all doing well," said Manning.
The chief said some of his officers are vaccinated while others are not and the concern now is if other officers in the department come back COVID-19 positive -- not only for their health, but for overall public safety.
"We would rely on mutual aid from surrounding communities if it became necessary to do that," said Manning.
However, Manning stresses the city is covered at this point, and other officers are filling those six vacant spots with overtime. He also said the chief is taking extra measures to keep his staff safe.
"I'm glad the chief is being proactive and taking steps to mitigate further spread by having officers in cars by themselves practicing social distancing, masking within the confines of the police station," said Manning.
Manning said this is the first time the city has had this many public safety employees come back positive for COVID-19 at one time.
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