State, local officials address COVID-19 impact on MN's public safety

Emily Ness
Updated: December 02, 2020 10:42 PM
Created: December 02, 2020 08:46 PM

Across Minnesota, COVID-19 has forced police officers, detectives, fire fighters and first responders to quarantine as a result of illness or exposure.

On Wednesday, officials called on the public to slow the spread, so they can provide public safety as the pandemic continues.

“This is literally a statewide issue that is affecting public safety from the northern tip all the way down to the Iowa border, and from the Dakotas through Wisconsin and everything in between,” Department of Public Safety Commissioner John Harrington said.

According to Harrington, departments across the state have had to change the way they live and respond to emergencies in order to stay safe.

In Duluth, the police department moved to what they call an “emergency schedule” where patrol officers work five days on, followed by ten quarantine days off.

This came after the Duluth Police Department saw nearly 30 cases of COVID-19.

Meanwhile, the Duluth Fire Department has re-designed their living quarters to allow for more social distancing and switched to N-95 masks for all fire fighters at all times.

They have also downsized the vehicle that they take to medical calls from a fire truck to a rapid response vehicle because it is easier to swap out and clean if need be.

This came after the Duluth Fire Department saw nearly 10 cases of COVID-19.

Fire Chief Shawn Krizaj said he is proud to say they have not had a drop in their service, despite the difficulties they have faced.

“We have been able to keep up the high level of service that we are proud of and that the community again expects and deserves,” Krizaj said.

Harrington said other struggles presented by the pandemic include people lying about being sick to avoid arrests—including here in Duluth.

“Mike Tusken, the Police Chief in Duluth called me up and said he had, had four guys go in on a medical call. That was his entire midnight shift I believe on that particular day. The person reported being COVID positive, so now, do you lose your entire midnight shift? How long do they need to be quarantined? As it turns out, that guy wasn’t COVID positive,” Harrington said.

Commissioner Harrington said the best thing the public can do to help police, detectives, fire fighters and first responders is be honest about their health and follow the advice of public health experts.

Harrington said that slowing the spread in the community will, in turn, slow the potential spread in departments.

Credits

Emily Ness

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