Law enforcement officers in the East Bay are concerned about COVID-19 exposure and are frustrated because they don’t know when they’ll get a vaccine.
In fact, they say they’re coming down with the virus at an alarming rate, and they feel like they’re being ignored by the health department.
“We’re spending every day on the streets of Oakland protecting our community and there’s still no sign of us getting the vaccine,” said Oakland Police Officers’ Association President Barry Donelan.
“Members are getting sick,” he said. “Our infection rates are increasing.”
Since the spring of 2020, 62 officers in the Oakland police union said they’ve tested positive for COVID-19.
More than 90 Alameda County Sheriff’s deputies have tested positive, and one officer, Oscar Rocha, died from the virus, along with one civilian worker.
Officials say that exposure for the combined 1,500 members means exposure to the public.
“On a day-to-day basis we are short 20 to 40 people who are either sick or at home on mandated quarantine due to exposure to the virus and aren’t allowed to come to work,” said Kevin Lewis of the Alameda County Sheriff’s Association.
It’s not only a problem in Oakland. San Francisco put out an urgent letter expressing the same concerns.
Out of 1,500 officers, they say 148 have tested positive, two have been hospitalized and close to 200 have filed COVID-19 worker’s compensation claims.
At a town hall meeting Thursday night in Oakland, the county’s health officer explained why East Bay law enforcement haven’t been vaccinated.
“Other counties are smaller, they’re able to move through that group faster,” said Alameda County Health Officer Dr. Nicholas Moss. “You may be hearing from other counties that some of those law enforcement personnel were able to get the vaccine.”
Moss said healthcare workers are first in line for the shot, and law enforcement will be next.