Columbiana cops in isolation for COVID-19
Both quarantined after 1 tested positive, other had symptoms
COLUMBIANA — An officer from the Columbiana Police Department has tested positive for COVID-19 in the midst of self-isolating himself for about three weeks, according to Police Chief Tim Gladis.
When the officer who tested positive experienced symptoms about three weeks ago, he immediately quarantined himself. Another officer, who has not tested positive for COVID-19, also experienced symptoms and has been quarantined for weeks as well.
The department was able to identify the symptoms by taking temperatures daily at the station. The Ohio Department of Health then spoke with anyone who was in contact with the officers.
“We are already well beyond the 14-day incubation period, so it’s not likely that we’ll be infected by that particular contact,” Gladis said.
The health department’s minimum standards say that the officer is able to return after at least seven days after the first onset of symptoms. He also has to be asymptomatic without medication for 72 straight hours. But Gladis said the department is airing on the side of caution.
“Both of them say that they are on the back side of this and are getting better,” Gladis said. “I’m trusting my people to take care of the other people that they work with, and that’s what they are doing. We’re giving them as much time as they need.”
The department is taking a cautious approach in all areas of sanitation, as they have “obsessively” cleaned surfaces. Gladis said that social distancing is important, but it’s only part of it. Another concern is surface contamination, as the virus can live on some surfaces for days.
While Gladis said the department hasn’t found any violations of non-essential businesses remaining open, he is concerned about the gathering of groups of teenagers, who are just trying to hang out.
“That’s our biggest problem right now,” Gladis said. “You can’t do that. That’s such a prohibited activity right now and parents are asked to keep their kids at home or keep track of them, so they aren’t continuing to aggravate the spread of the virus.”
The officers who self-quarantined took care of the situation before it escalated, but Gladis realizes that their job puts them at risk every day.
“The problem is that we still have to be out there,” Gladis said. “If you leave your home, you’re at risk of being exposed. When making an arrest, it is impossible to social distance. So, while we’ve dodged this bullet, who knows how many we’ll be able to dodge. But we are monitoring each other and being as clean and safe as we can.”