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Police Officers Exposed to the Coronavirus: Here’s What You Should Know

COVID-19 exposures are rising among first responders and law enforcement officers have one more issue to worry about on the firing line. Police officers in Nevada who contract coronavirus while on duty may be eligible to pursue workers’ compensation claims for their injuries.

Diving Into the Breach

Once again, law enforcement is being called upon to go above and beyond in the face of a national emergency. Many have been rushed into danger without the appropriate protective equipment and training. While there is no confirmed data regarding the total number of police officers who have acquired coronavirus, the nature of the job, and the rapid spread of the virus all but guarantee it is a significant statistic.

Not only is the spread of the virus dangerous to law enforcement, but it’s also dangerous to the community. If a significant number of police officers in a given area become sick, the effectiveness of the department to protect the community is severely diminished.  

Personal Protective Equipment for Police Officers

Law enforcement personnel, whether police officers, prison guards, or office personnel should be provided with adequate personal protective equipment. This includes gloves, masks, eye protection, sanitizers, etc. recommended by the Centers for Disease Control and provided by the individual’s employer or local health department.

Training, Support, and Monitoring are Crucial

Law enforcement officers should receive thorough training from their department in order to protect themselves from acquiring coronavirus. Training should include safe methods of apprehending suspects and quarantine procedures following a potential or confirmed exposure.

Police departments are also required to assist officers in the proper sterilization of clothing, duty belts, and other equipment that can become contaminated with the coronavirus pathogen.   

Police departments should closely monitor police officers for signs and symptoms of coronavirus. These include regular temperature checks, testing, and other measures recommended by the CDC and local health departments. Any officers exhibiting symptoms should be granted leave so as not to risk infecting their colleagues or the general public they come into contact with on a daily basis.

While not specifically addressed by existing statutes, coronavirus is most clearly a biological pathogen. This means any police officer or first responder who contracts COVID-19 and becomes sick or disabled would be eligible to pursue a workers’ compensation claim. Further, the surviving family members of any police officer or first responder who pass away from COVID-19 complications would be eligible to pursue compensation for wrongful death claims.

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