Four Des Moines police officers tested positive for COVID-19

This is a new image of the novel coronavirus that causes COVID-19, the disease that flared in Wuhan, China, in late December and has killed nearly 2,000 people. (Credit: National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, Rocky Mountain Lab)

Four Des Moines police officers recently tested positive for COVID-19, police spokesman Sgt. Paul Parizek said Tuesday.

The news came one day after the Des Moines Fire Department confirmed three firefighters had tested positive for the coronavirus. Two West Des Moines firefighters have also contracted the virus.

Parizek said the Des Moines officers were tested after they showed symptoms. They are in quarantine.

The department has 379 sworn officers, and 110 civilian support workers.

The police department has not tested all officers but is following guidelines set out by the Iowa Department of Public Health and the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Parizek said.

Des Moines officers have been told to go home immediately and call 211 or their doctor if they have a fever of 100.4 degrees or higher, a cough, sore throat or shortness of breath, according to department documents. They also are supposed to use sanitizing wipes on themselves, equipment and vehicles, and to take reports outdoors when they can.

Health officials have said the odds of getting the coronavirus are lowered outside.

The police department has thermometers throughout the downtown police station, Parizek said. Workers constantly clean any surfaces that police or staff members might touch, he added.

The police department is using the Des Moines Fire Department’s protocols, including assuming a person has COVID-19 if they have symptoms consistent with the illness. They are supposed to wear respirators, goggles and gloves and remain 6 feet from the person in those cases.

The rules also govern disinfection procedures, personal protective equipment and ventilation of vehicles.

Perry Beeman
Senior reporter Perry Beeman has nearly 40 years of experience in Iowa journalism and has won national awards for environmental and business writing. He has written for The Des Moines Register and the Business Record, where he also served as managing editor. He also is former editorial director of Grinnell College. He co-authored the recently published book, "The $80 Billion Gamble," which details the lottery-rigging case of Eddie Tipton.