Policing COVID-19

The force is in harm's way ... in a new way

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By Stacey Sheridan

Staff Reporter

COVID-19 has breached the Oak Park Police Department, with two police officers thus far having tested positive for the virus.

Village Manager Cara Pavlicek said, "We will not give information about the employees' cases. We won't tell you whether they are work-related. The rest is protected by HIPAA [Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act] and we won't release any more information."

However, she did say in response to a question, that "We have not had to contact any members of the public regarding these officers." She said that should a case meet necessary criteria, that village staff would notify members of the public who may have been exposed.

The village of Oak Park announced March 30 that an Oak Park police officer tested positive for COVID-19. One day later, the village announced a second Oak Park police officer received a positive COVID-19 test result.

According to the March 30 village announcement, the village placed personnel who had come into contact with the officer in quarantine as a precaution.

The second officer chose self-quarantine immediately upon experiencing symptoms and has "remained out of the workplace since mid-March," according to the March 31 village announcement.

The announcement also stated that, pursuant to village of Oak Park personnel policies, "employees who have had direct contact with the officer have been notified, but because the contact was greater than 14 days ago, they are not subject to quarantine."

Pavlicek noted that the village of Oak Park is abiding by the guidelines laid down by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

Unable to operate successfully from the safe confines of their homes, police officers and other essential service providers continue to work in the community despite increasing numbers of COVID-19 cases.

Prior to the March 31 announcement, the village of Oak Park moved to split police officers, public works employees and firefighters into discrete workgroups — those employees work the same shifts on the same days as their group members; they do not move days or shifts.

Most village employees have been working remotely from their homes to curtail the chance of contracting or spreading COVID-19. According to Pavlicek, fewer than 30 employees are ever on the main floor of village hall and never at the same time. 

"We're observing social distancing," she said. "We are making sure that we also do proper cleaning and everything else that we can."

However, due to the highly contagious nature of COVID-19, it is likely that more village employees will come down the virus, she said.

"With 370 employees," Pavlicek said, "sadly, this probably won't be the [only] time we have to report that we have a positive case with an employee."

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Tommy McCoy  

Posted: April 8th, 2020 9:42 PM

This is unfortunate that the projection is more people within the Village staff will become infected and being prodigious regarding information being released is prudent

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