COVID-19: Waterloo police chief says 93 members are off the job

Waterloo Regional Police Chief Bryan Larkin says the service is managing despite having 93 members off the job due to COVID-19.

The count as of Wednesday evening includes 57 sworn officers and 22 civilian members who are away from work. Another 123 members are self-monitoring for symptoms.

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In a news conference on Thursday, Larkin said they have had 90 confirmed cases of COVID-19 among the ranks since the beginning of the pandemic. Up until Dec. 17, that number was 33.

“So you can see the impact and the spread of the Omicron variant,” Larkin said.

“This number alone is a concern, but we haven’t had to restrict calls for service and restrict the way we do business. We’re able to manage accordingly.”

Larkin also added that in the last 30 days, only three positive cases were from on-duty exposures.

The service also announced that it is transitioning away from traditional medical masks to N95 masks for front-line officers.

In Ontario, police officers are not eligible for PCR testing and Larkin said the service is utilizing rapid antigen tests.

The service has enough rapid tests and N95 masks to last through February and they are trying to get more.

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Larkin added that it has been a busy start to 2022 in terms of responding to calls, but the service is not in a position to redeploy or reassign officers.

“We’re very much focused on workforce protection, ensuring adequate staffing and adequate response levels to manage the demands of our community,” he said.

© 2022 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

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