LA area police, fire employees out sick amid COVID surge

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Hundreds of Los Angeles-area police officers, firefighters and emergency responders were sick or quarantining Tuesday after testing positive for COVID-19 amid a surge in confirmed cases in the region, according to media reports. 

More than 500 Los Angeles Police Department employees were out, as well as 201 city fire department workers, the Los Angeles Times reported. The Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department had 573 employees out, of which were 399 sworn deputies, as of Wednesday. 

“That’s a big chunk of people,” Sheriff Alex Villanueva said during a Facebook Live stream. “But that’s not close to what we had last year with the Delta variant, so this is good news.”

The Los Angeles region has seen a sharp pike in COVID-19 cases as concerns over the omicron variant continue to grow. 
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LAPD Chief Michel Moore told the newspaper the figures for his agency were well below the peak of cases in January 2021. An LAPD spokesman said the department has not been impacted by the staff reductions. 

“The department is prepared to make adjustments to our staffing, including the reallocation of human resources in the event it becomes needed, however we are not at that point,” LAPD Capt. Stacy Spell told the Times. “We continue to meet the demands needed and will ensure Angelenos’ public safety needs are met.”

Fox News has reached out to the LAPD.

A Los Angeles Police Officer Badge.
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Cheryl Getuiza, a Los Angeles Fire Department spokeswoman, said the LAFD had a number of “24-hour closures to engines and trucks” in place due to a reduction in staff. The company closures are not the same as fire station closures, she said. 

As COVID-19 cases continue to rise, the county is seeing increased 911 call response times, the paper previously reported. 

The city has mandated that public employees get vaccinated. Those who apply for an exemption must get tested twice a week as their request awaits a decision. 

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Over the weekend, county health officials reported 45,000 new COVID-19 cases and more than 21,000 new cases on Tuesday. On Wednesday, California extended its indoor mask mandate by a month through Feb. 15 in response to the surge. 

Some courts have also been paused to prevent further infections. 

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