PHOENIX (3TV/CBS 5) — Two nonprofits who keep track of law enforcement line of duty deaths say that COVID-19 is responsible for killing more officers per year than gunfire, car accidents, and all other causes combined.
According to the Officer Down Memorial Page, at least 135 officers have died from complications with the virus so far this year.
“It tells us a lot. It tells us that the people on the frontline–the ones who are exposed to deal with the masses, with gatherings–are considered at high risk and that hasn’t really changed,” said Dr. Ernst Von Schwarz, a cardiologist who has been actively treating patients with COVID-19. “Keep in mind, police officers and law enforcement officers sometimes have to have physical contact and it’s not always that easy to keep a six foot distance to each other. They are at as high risk as we are as healthcare providers.”
The Phoenix Police Department reported 265 cases out of their 3,894 employees. Scottsdale Police say that 80 employees have asked for time off due to the virus. Tempe Police Department says they’ve had 28 cases within their department. And the Maricopa County Sheriff’s Office says they’ve had 352 employees out of 3,418 test positive for coronavirus.
According to the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial Fund, at least two officers in Arizona have died from COVID-19. Dr. Von Schwarz says high stress can also play a factor when it comes to fighting off the virus.
“There are plenty of scientific data available that any kind of stressors weaken your immune system, increase the thickness of your blood, can cause lack of oxygen in different organs,” Dr. Von Schwarz said. “The exposure to a virus in the view of a stressful job for example, with all the social stressors that come with it, economic stressors, of course make all of us more vulnerable to contract a disease but also to get a systemic reaction to it with a weakened immune system.”
Dr. Von Schwarz recommends having plenty of Vitamin C and rest to boost the immune system.