As L.A. ponders vaccine mandates, infections in the LAPD spike sharply
LAPD Chief Michel Moore told the civilian Police Commission on Tuesday that the department had 33 personnel test positive for the coronavirus in the last week, a sharp uptick compared to recent weeks.
Over the course of the three prior weeks, the department had seen 19 new cases, Moore told the commission last week. At the prior commission meeting on June 29, Moore reported just one new case among LAPD personnel during the week prior.
Moore’s comments come amid escalating discussions at the city level on whether to mandate vaccinations among city employees, which would include police officers and civilian police employees.
Vaccinations among LAPD personnel stalled out months ago, with nearly half the department remaining unvaccinated.
Gov. Gavin Newsom recently announced that state employees would be required to be vaccinated or submit to regular testing. Some localities have said they would be mandating vaccines, as well, including San Francisco.
The L.A. Police Commission requested the LAPD report on a possible COVID-19 vaccination mandate and the work assignments of its unvaccinated personnel.
During the Police Commission meeting, Moore said one LAPD employee was hospitalized in “very critical condition” from COVID-19. Nine LAPD personnel have died, and Moore said three spouses of LAPD personnel also had died from the disease.
In the latter three cases, Moore said the department believed the personnel might have passed the virus on to their spouses..
There were 81 LAPD employees at home recovering from the virus as of Tuesday, Moore said. In total, 2,760 LAPD personnel have now tested positive for the virus since the pandemic’s inception. A total of 2,692 have returned to work.
Moore told the commission that he had had conversations about infections among LAPD personnel with Mayor Eric Garcetti, and is being kept apprised of discussions at the city level about efforts to increase vaccination rates among city employees.
“I understand the mayor’s team is working with labor across the city for vaccination protocols,” he said, “and we’re paying, again, close attention to that.”
Moore said he also sent a message to all officers on Monday in which he again urged that they get vaccinated, calling the vaccines a “critical lifeline” and the virus — particularly the Delta variant — a “real and present danger” to police personnel, their families and members of the public with whom they came into contact.
Moore said the department had worked with the city to offer vaccines directly to officers, who he said also had access to vaccines through their department health benefit plans.
“We’re trying to find every opportunity to encourage their participation in the vaccination process,” Moore said.
The department has been criticized for not doing more to force officers to comply with mask mandates, including by activists who have chronicled examples of officers not wearing masks — including as they interact with members of the public.
Police defenders have pointed out that police officers have risked their health by continuing to work in the field throughout the pandemic, even as many others shifted to working from home, and deserve credit for their commitment.
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