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Clearwater police officer tests positive for coronavirus

Police Chief Daniel Slaughter said the diagnosis, the first reported in his department, was “inevitable.”

The Clearwater Police Department learned Thursday that an officer tested positive for COVID-19, the disease caused by the novel coronavirus.

The officer is the first city employee to test positive. Seventeen other city workers have been tested, said city manager Bill Horne said, but so far the officer is the only one who has tested positive.

Police Chief Daniel Slaughter said the officer had flu-like symptoms. The officer was out sick for more than a week before the test results came back.

The chief did not disclose the officer’s name or assignment, but he said the employee is recovering at home. The department is getting in touch with other employees who may have had contact with the infected officer, Slaughter said.

For weeks, Slaughter said police officials have been working to minimize the chances of the disease spreading within the department.

“We did a lot of things early on trying to minimize the impact of when this occurs," the chief said, "which we basically considered inevitable.”

The department says it was taking the temperatures of officers who were consistently in close contact with other people. Now, Slaughter said, the department plans to double down on those efforts and will expand the number of employees whose temperatures are taken.

This week, officers also started to wear surgical masks in public to align with the most recent guidelines for public safety from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Slaughter noted.

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