DALLAS - Five Dallas police officers are back at work Tuesday after arresting a man who claimed to have the coronavirus. It appears to be a scare over nothing.
The officers were sent home Monday because a 24-year-old suspect they interacted with on Sunday, during a disturbance call at an East Dallas apartment, told staff members at the county jail that he had been on an international flight and was feeling sick, potentially because of the coronavirus.
But the head of the Dallas Police Association believes it was just a failed attempt to avoid going to jail. The suspect was taken to Parkland Hospital for detailed screening and reportedly isn’t showing any signs or symptoms of the virus.
It’s a situation that caught the attention of state officials.
“I want to make it real clear, there is no coronavirus in the jail. None. We've already gotten a call from Austin, governor's office, commission on jail standards. There is none,” said Dallas County Commissioner John Wiley Price.
The recent scare is forcing the department to fine tune it's health crisis protocol.
[REPORTER: “Will Dallas have enough first responders if there is a spread of the virus?]
“My understanding is we have a plan in place to make sure the city can continue to function, all essential services can still be provided, including first responders, in the event people are having to take time off to make sure no one is coming to work sick. So I'm confident we will be fine there too,” Dallas Mayor Eric Johnson said.
Dallas Police Chief Renee Hall said the department was following the advice of medical professionals.
“We take the safety of our officers very seriously. When we got the information, we followed all the direction of the doctors and county. At this point, there is no need to be alarmed. Again, following emergency preparedness we’ve been instructed to and being guided,” she said.
But the medical director for Dallas Fire-Rescue, who is working closely with DPD, said he is not yet advising officers who may have encountered the virus to stay home.
“We don’t offer that guidance at this time, but we rely on our public health partners at Dallas County Health and Human Services, who are experts at monitoring for any signs in the community,” Dr. Marshal Isaacs said.
Dr. Isaacs said they are focused on prevention right now, and first responders have special protective gear in case they know they will be coming into contact with someone with any infectious disease.
In Dallas County, there are more than 100 people being monitored for COVID-19, the virus that has already killed six people in the United States and thousands more in China.
Many of those who are being monitored locally recently returned from China.
Mayor Johnson said no one has tested positive yet.
Collin County is monitoring nearly 50 people. They are under a 14-day home quarantine.