Coronavirus (COVID-19): Resources for Law Enforcement

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The National Police Foundation (NPF) is committed to providing resources to law enforcement agencies during the COVID-19 pandemic. The NPF recognizes the challenges law enforcement is currently facing in this rapidly changing environment. In response, the NPF has launched a Real-Time COVID-19 Law Enforcement Impact Situational Awareness Dashboard (viewable below) to help law enforcement leaders better assess and monitor the impacts COVID-19 is having on law enforcement agencies across the United States. The dashboard tracks workforce impacts, including the number of officers unable to work/placed in off-duty status due to possible or confirmed exposure and/or due to experiencing symptoms of illness, the number of officers that have been tested and diagnosed, as well as personal protective equipment (PPE) needs and projections.

In addition to the dashboard, the NPF is dedicated to assembling relevant and trusted resources for law enforcement (listed below) that have been prepared by a variety of associations and organizations that may be helpful as your agency plans, prepares and responds. Please note that this is a rapidly evolving event and information on this page will be updated frequently.

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COVID-19 Law Enforcement Impact Dashboard

 

ENLARGE DASHBOARD (DESKTOP)ADD YOUR AGENCY’S DATA

In response to the Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic and its impact on law enforcement and other first responders, the National Police Foundation, in collaboration with the National Alliance for Public Safety GIS Foundation and Esri, has developed a real-time situational awareness tool for law enforcement agencies. The tool, featuring a real-time dashboard, provides critical insights for executives, commanders, and others to better assess and monitor the impact of COVID-19, including officer exposures, diagnoses, workforce impacts, and personal protective equipment (PPE) needs and projections.

The interactive tool allows agencies to provide confidential, real-time updates that are instantly incorporated into the national dashboard and map. The dashboard identifies the number of officers exposed through their work, officially tested and diagnosed, placed in off-duty status due to exposure, and that are self-isolating due to symptoms or off-duty exposure. The dashboard also estimates the availability of necessary PPE, the most critical PPE that agencies are lacking, and current and projected shortages of PPE. The data is then aggregated and mapped at the state-level in order to show these impacts across the country. Individual agencies are not identified. Law enforcement agencies can then compare impacts in their state with those of other states.

Law enforcement executives and their incident command teams (or those responsible for overseeing the COVID-19 response within their agencies), are encouraged to participate by submitting data via the button above. It takes approximately 5 minutes to provide the update and an ORI9 identifier is required for each submission along with other validation features. The NPF is asking respondents to provide updates at least weekly, on the same day and time each week (as possible), in order to track progress throughout the event and impacts on law enforcement over time.

 

COVID-19: Frequently Asked Questions by Law Enforcement

 

Cleaning and Disinfection

What chemicals should be used to disinfect surfaces, objects, and gear?

The CDC has published guidance on how to clean and disinfect surfaces, available at: https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/community/disinfecting-building-facility.html.

For a searchable list of which disinfectants are approved for use against SARS-CoV-2, visit: https://www.epa.gov/pesticide-registration/list-n-disinfectants-use-against-sars-cov-2.

Does soap need to be antibacterial to be effective against SARS-CoV-2?

No. See: https://www.cdc.gov/handwashing/show-me-the-science-handwashing.html.

How do officers decontaminate their clothing?

The CDC has published guidance for law enforcement here: https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/community/guidance-law-enforcement.html.

See also:

Are there alternatives for agencies unable to obtain traditional cleaning supplies?

In addition to the list of disinfectants that have been approved for use against SARS-CoV-2 by the FDA (available here: https://www.epa.gov/pesticide-registration/list-n-disinfectants-use-against-sars-cov-2), the CDC has provided alternative instructions for diluted bleach solutions here: https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/community/disinfecting-building-facility.html.

HIPAA & Information Sharing

Does the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) Privacy Rule allow a covered entity to share the name or other identifying information of an individual who has been infected with, or exposed to, the virus SARS-CoV-2 or the disease caused by the virus, COVID-19, with law enforcement, corrections personnel, or other first responders without an individual’s authorization?

The Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) has provided guidance pertaining to HIPAA protections amidst the COVID-19 pandemic. See: https://www.hhs.gov/hipaa/for-professionals/special-topics/hipaa-covid19/index.html.

For specific guidance on the disclosure of protected health information (PHI) to law enforcement, see: https://www.hhs.gov/sites/default/files/covid-19-hipaa-and-first-responders-508.pdf.

Operational Impact

How should jails and detention facilities handle a suspected or confirmed case of COVID-19 to protect staff, other inmates, or individuals with imminent release?

The CDC has provided specific guidance for correctional and detention facilities here: https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/community/correction-detention/guidance-correctional-detention.html.

If law enforcement takes a person into custody who exhibits symptoms of COVID-19, where should they take the person for intake processing (such as jail, a hospital, or some other facility)?

The CDC has provided specific guidance on this question here: https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/community/law-enforcement-agencies-faq.html.

Should changes be made with regards to field training programs, public access to government buildings, and officers’ use of common areas like break rooms and gyms?

To the greatest extent possible, agencies should follow the CDC’s guidelines for maintaining healthy business operations and protecting personnel, found here: https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/community/guidance-business-response.html.

Personal Protective Equipment (PPE)

What are the PPE recommendations for law enforcement officers?

The CDC has listed the minimum recommended personal protective equipment (PPE) law enforcement officers should wear when contacting individuals with suspected or confirmed COVID-19. The recommendations are available at: https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/community/guidance-law-enforcement.html.

If law enforcement agencies cannot obtain the recommended PPE for their officers, are there alternatives available?

The CDC has provided guidance on how to optimize the supply of PPE, including recommended courses of action and alternatives if supplies are extremely limited and/or depleted. Please see: https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/hcp/ppe-strategy/index.html.

How important is proper fit testing for the use of N95 respirators?

Fit testing is required to ensure the user is receiving the expected level of protection from the respirator. See: https://www.cdc.gov/niosh/npptl/hospresptoolkit/fittesting.html.

How does an agency ensure it is purchasing only NIOSH-approved respirators?

See https://www.cdc.gov/niosh/npptl/topics/respirators/disp_part/default.html for a searchable list of NIOSH-approved respirators.

See also https://www.cdc.gov/niosh/npptl/usernotices/counterfeitResp.html for CDC alerts on counterfeit respirators.

What are some strategies law enforcement can use to conserve PPE?

The CDC has provided guidance on how to conserve the supply of PPE, including guidance on the extended use and/or re-use of equipment: https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/hcp/ppe-strategy/index.html.

How large of a supply of PPE does an agency require, or how long will the agency’s existing supply last?

To assist agencies in determining how much PPE they will need or how long their existing supply will last, the CDC has provided a PPE burn rate calculator, available here: https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/hcp/ppe-strategy/burn-calculator.html.

What should law enforcement agencies do if they are having trouble acquiring new PPE?

According to the CDC during a March 19, 2020, briefing for law enforcement (available below in the National Police Foundation Resources), the federal government (not CDC) operates the Strategic National Stockpile (SNS). Resources from the SNS, including PPE, are typically released to the states for the states to distribute. Accordingly, if agencies cannot acquire PPE through regular channels, agencies should contact their local and state public health departments and emergency preparedness partners and ask about the possibility of receiving an allocation of PPE from their state. See: https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/community/law-enforcement-agencies-faq.html.

See also FEMA’s Eligible Emergency Protective Measures announcement: https://www.fema.gov/news-release/2020/03/19/coronavirus-covid-19-pandemic-eligible-emergency-protective-measures. State, territorial, tribal, and local government entities and certain private non-profit organizations are eligible to apply for assistance through FEMA’s Public Assistance Program. Under the COVID-19 Emergency Declaration, FEMA may provide assistance for emergency protective measures, including supplies.

Symptoms

What are the common symptoms associated with COVID-19?

The CDC has listed the common symptoms of COVID-19 here: https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/symptoms-testing/symptoms.html.

For definitions of symptoms, see: https://www.cdc.gov/quarantine/air/reporting-deaths-illness/definitions-symptoms-reportable-illnesses.html.

Can someone spread the virus without showing symptoms?

Yes. See: https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/prevent-getting-sick/cloth-face-cover.html#studies.

Where can an agency access up-to-date information on the virus?

The CDC provides regular updates on COVID-19, including the agency’s response and latest recommendations, available here: https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/cases-updates/summary.html.

When can an officer return to work after exhibiting symptoms of COVID-19 and/or testing positive for COVID-19?

The CDC has provided guidance on when individuals can discontinue home isolation: https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/hcp/disposition-in-home-patients.html.

Note, in critical staffing shortages, consider the CDC guidance for mitigating staff shortages in healthcare settings, available here: https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/hcp/mitigating-staff-shortages.html.

Screening

How should agencies screen their officers when they report to work?

The CDC provided interim guidance for critical infrastructure workers, including a recommendation on pre-screening, available here: https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/community/critical-workers/implementing-safety-practices.html.

See also:

For an example of screening protocols, see: https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/community/correction-detention/guidance-correctional-detention.html#verbal-screening.

If an officer exhibits a symptom during screening, how long before the officer can return to work?

The CDC has provided guidance on when individuals can discontinue home isolation after exhibiting symptoms: https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/if-you-are-sick/steps-when-sick.html.

See also:

In critical staffing shortages, consider the CDC guidance for mitigating staff shortages in healthcare settings: https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/hcp/mitigating-staff-shortages.html.

Testing

What is the turnaround time for COVID-19 testing?

Turnaround time will vary by jurisdiction based on the capacity of local and state laboratories doing the testing. See https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/symptoms-testing/testing.html.

How does an officer get tested?

The CDC has provided guidance on testing for COVID-19, including how to get tested, available here: https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/symptoms-testing/testing.html.

See also: https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/community/law-enforcement-agencies-faq.html.

The CDC has also provided guidance as to who should be prioritized with respect to testing while testing capacity remains limited: https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-nCoV/hcp/clinical-criteria.html.

Transmission & Exposure

How is the virus, SARS-CoV-2, that causes COVID-19 transmitted?

See https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/prevent-getting-sick/how-covid-spreads.html for a description of how the virus is transmitted.

Is it possible for someone to spread the SARS-CoV-2 virus before they are symptomatic?

See https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/prevent-getting-sick/how-covid-spreads.html for information about how the virus is spread.

Can the SARS-CoV-2 virus remain on surfaces, and if so, for how long?

See the following resources for information on how long the virus can remain on surfaces:

What is considered an “exposure” to COVID-19?

The CDC included some information on what can be considered an exposure in its interim guidance for critical infrastructure workers, found here: https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/community/critical-workers/implementing-safety-practices.html.

The CDC has also provided guidance on exposure risk categories in a healthcare setting, some of which may be applicable to law enforcement: https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/hcp/guidance-risk-assesment-hcp.html.

If an officer is exposed to a person with suspected or confirmed COVID-19, can they continue working, or should they be isolated?

The CDC has provided interim guidance on critical infrastructure workers (to include law enforcement) who may have had exposure to a person with suspected or confirmed COVID-19. You can access that guidance here: https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/community/critical-workers/implementing-safety-practices.html.

See also: https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/community/law-enforcement-agencies-faq.html.

Is there any specific guidance for protecting police canines from COVID-19 exposure?

The CDC has provided specific guidance on this issue, available here: https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/community/law-enforcement-agencies-faq.html.

See also:

What precautions should officers take to avoid exposing their families, even if the officers are asymptomatic?

The CDC has published multiple resource pages that address precautions individuals can take in their households to avoid spreading the SARS-CoV-2 virus. See:

Should special precautions be taken when conducting death investigations?

The CDC has published guidance on precautions during death investigations, available here: https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/community/law-enforcement-agencies-faq.html.

The CDC has also published interim guidance for funeral home workers handling decedents who had COVID-19, and some of this guidance may be applicable to law enforcement: https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/faq.html#COVID-19-and-Funerals.

Vaccines & Treatment
 


Need a search tool to find answers and resources to just COVID-19 issues for first responders? Try our COVID-19 First Responder Research & Practice Reference Search (COFRS-19) tool, available here:

COFRS-19 Search Tool

 

National Police Foundation Resources

 

  • COVID-19 Briefing for Law Enforcement with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), March 19, 2020:

 

General COVID-19 Information

 

COVID-19 Surveillance Dashboard

 

ENLARGE DASHBOARD

 

The National Police Foundation (NPF) is currently providing and developing these resources from limited internal resources. If you would like to help support NPF’s efforts to provide vital resources to law enforcement agencies and first responders during this crisis, please visit: www.policefoundation.org/donate.