By Mark F. Gray
AFRO Staff Writer
The coronavirus is making its way through Prince George’s County and affecting the first responders, law enforcement and those behind bars. COVID-19 quarantines have impacted the Police Department, Fire and EMS units, a screening center at FedEx Field and a women’s correctional facility within the last week.
After constructing the pop up examination station at the home of Washington’s NFL franchise, a National Guardsman was diagnosed with the virus forcing an intense cleaning and disinfection effort before it could start seeing patients. The member of the Maryland Army National Guard who tested positive for COVID-19 was immediately quarantined. There were approximately 20 other soldiers from the same unit who were quarantined in hopes of limiting the spread of the virus.
A Prince George’s County Police Department officer also tested positive for COVID-19. The officer, normally assigned to duties with minimal public interaction, was confirmed April 2. Reports say the officer began feeling ill March 25, 2020 and has been self-isolating at home since the symptoms began. A group of fellow officers and department employees were quarantined also.
“We are in contact with the infected officer and are working to ensure the officer receives needed care,” said Chief Hank Stawinski.
The Department said that the temporary isolation hasn’t affected their ability to handle 911 calls and is now taking many reports over the phone. Officers are taking every opportunity to practice social distancing and have been equipped with personal protection equipment should it be required. PGPD is working with the Health Department as the investigation continues to determine when the officer contracted the virus.
Chief Tiffany Green of the Prince George’s County Fire/Emergency Medical Services (EMS) Department, confirmed March 31 that a member of her department tested positive for the coronavirus also. Once the first responder was diagnosed, the County’s Health Department began a contact search to determine what members of the personnel came in contact with the infected member at their station and during what shift they were working. The member of the unit’s identity has not been released.
“The member is now at home and all steps are being taken to ensure their recovery and well-being,” Green said, in her statement to the community. “Upon notification of the positive diagnosis, the station was immediately placed out of service and decontaminated. The process of notifying any patients who may have come in contact with the response provider is also underway.”
A woman who is a jailed inmate is being treated for the coronavirus, authorities with the County’s Department of Corrections confirmed March 30. A 29-year-old incarcerated female tested positive for COVID-19 and has been quarantined in a negative pressure isolation cell in the facility’s medical unit since first complaining of symptoms.
In response to the positive test, jail staff started providing additional sanitary supplies to the female housing unit, which currently holds 28 inmates at the correctional facility. Medical staff members have been taking temperatures and monitoring inmates for symptoms twice a day in the unit. Members of command and medical staff have briefed the inmates about the situation.
Currently there is no evidence that any officers were exposed to the ailing inmate.