EL PASO, Texas-- Covid-19 has changed the way life and work operate on a daily basis. The El Paso Police Department is no different, nor immune to the challenges brought on by the coronavirus.
On Thursday, officials told ABC-7 that five of their recruits in the police academy, as well as six training officers there have tested positive for Covid-19. EPPD became aware the outbreak at the academy in early July. Officials are now enforcing a strict quarantine for both recruits and officers involved.
"Same as the recruits, those six instructors are quarantined, once they retest and they are negative then they will return and resume their normal activities," Sgt. Enrique Carrillo said.
It is unclear who the first positive case was and whether or not it was a case of community spread outside the academy. However, officials with the police academy said they have been proactive at keeping facilities clean and sanitized for everyone involved.
“Classrooms are sanitized twice a day any equipment is sanitized before and after each use however social distancing is gapped during that time that its necessary for practical application during certain exercises,” Carrillo said.
The recruits and all other staff at the academy have been undergoing a health screening since the outbreak first began. Everyone must sign in, answer whether or not they've had any symptoms of Covid-19, and lastly get their temperature taken.
"All department employees are screened, if the temperature is at the level that is acceptable, within the acceptable range, then you are allowed to proceed through the day then they are retested at the end of the day," Carrillo said.
While the screening process is done twice daily, testing is not. Testing for patrol officers, recruits and all other personnel is ordered once an individual presents symptoms of the virus.
While the news of the positive cases has sidelined five members of this police academy graduating class and six instructors, graduation will be moving forward as scheduled.
"There will be a graduation in November, as it stands today. We can't forecast the future as to what is going to happen, but its scheduled for November. So hopefully 32 recruits will be graduating and going out to the field, including the five when they make up the lost time," Carrillo said.