The average recovery time for employees to come back to work after testing positive is about 24 days, Moore said. There are currently 803 department employees quarantined, while just one month ago, the number of quarantined employees was 89, Moore said.
Last week, a total of 562 department personnel tested positive for COVID-19, up from 424 the week before. During the previous week, only 82 COVID-19 cases were reported within the department, Moore said.
The department has a total of 9,524 sworn employees and 2,689 civilian employees.
“Moving forward, the department does have contingency plans to ensure that we continue to maintain essential patrol, investigations involving violent crime, and our 911 services,” Moore said. “We’re using overtime as necessary to ensure that our civilian and sworn personnel have the resources needed to staff these positions.”
The department’s vaccination rate is about 84%, Moore said, and about 22% of the people currently testing positive for the virus are vaccinated. County health officials have stressed that unvaccinated people remain 21 times more likely to wind up hospitalized with COVID than vaccinated people.
He added that there are “additional levers” the department can invoke to augment staffing and ensure necessary services are provided to the city.
The department’s recruit academy is currently shut down due to a COVID-19 outbreak, but is expected to reopen on Sunday.
Coronavirus cases throughout the county have surged in recent weeks, with the Los Angeles County Department of Public Health reporting an additional 43,582 new cases on Monday, bringing the county’s cumulative number of cases throughout the pandemic over the 2 million mark.
Last week, Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti said he had authorized overtime dollars to maintain staffing levels for police and fire amid the surge. Garcetti aimed to assure the public that both the police and fire departments “have maintained staffing levels that are needed to keep Angelenos safe.”
“Let me repeat that — we have maintained staffing levels to make sure you, your family, our communities are safe,” he said, adding that “five out of six members” of each of the two departments are fully vaccinated. Last week, L.A. Fire Department Chief Ralph Terrazas said that while stations are not closing, but some stations have “less resources than normal.”
“When you call in for help (to the Los Angeles Fire Department) we will respond,” Terrazas said. “However, our response times have been impacted by our lack of staffing due to COVID.” He said that for “critical advanced life support response” the time has increased by 13 seconds, and for structure fires, response times went up by six seconds.
The county surpassed the 2 million mark in total number of COVID-19 cases confirmed throughout the pandemic, with 43,000 new infections reported on Monday, and another 35,000-plus posted on Tuesday. And while still well short of the peak hospitalization numbers seen last winter — when more than 8,000 COVID-positive patients filled hospitals — the rising number is still generating wide concern. While evidence indicates that omicron is not as virulent as its predecessors, it spreads swiftly and officials fear that it could swamp local hospitals. Health care facilities are finding themselves increasingly short-staffed, in part because of COVID infections among health care workers.
Staffing concerns have intensified as the county grapples with record daily coronavirus caseloads, driven by the highly transmissible omicron variant. “As we’ve always done, we will continue to evaluate on a daily basis our ability to maintain operational readiness to deal with any emergency that occurs within our city,” Terrazas said.
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