First published in the Sept. 4 print issue of the Burbank Leader.
Six Burbank Police Department personnel tested positive for the coronavirus last month, according to Los Angeles County health officials, though the city said only two contracted the virus while working.
The county Department of Public Health’s website in August listed the BPD — which includes a jail and shares space with the Burbank Fire Department — as the location of an outbreak, though the listing was recently removed from the page. Simone McFarland, a city spokeswoman, said in an email that six sworn police employees tested positive for COVID-19 after experiencing symptoms. All have since recovered and returned to work, she added.
McFarland explained that one employee contracted the virus away from work and appears to have infected two co-workers. The three remaining personnel, she added, also tested positive after “off-duty exposures.” Contract tracing procedures indicate that no other employees or members of the public were exposed as a result of the six cases, she said.
The county public health department defines a COVID-19 outbreak as a workplace with three or more cases within a 14-day period; the county, McFarland said, lists a location even if its employees contracted the coronavirus while off duty.
None of the BPD’s cases resulted from a violation of city policies, McFarland added. The spokeswoman said county workers visited the department on Aug. 23, determined the facility had complied with health orders and declared the outbreak over a week later.
“PD is to be commended for their adherence to the city’s policies, and it is reassuring to have independent confirmation from L.A. County that the city’s policies and procedures are in compliance with applicable regulations,” McFarland said.
One of the police personnel was vaccinated, she added, but two were not and the remaining three declined to provide their vaccination status to the city.
The BPD has one of the lowest vaccination rates of any city department, according to data provided by the city. As of Aug. 30, only 58% of the department’s employees reported being vaccinated, with 31% saying they weren’t and 11% declining to say. The only workforce with a lower rate was the city treasurer’s office, which had a 40% vaccination rate.
The total vaccination rate for all city employees was just under 73%, the data showed. At a recent meeting, the Burbank City Council agreed to consider requiring municipal workers to get vaccinated or undergo weekly coronavirus testing, as several other California jurisdictions have. The panel will discuss the topic in greater detail at a future date.