Town Manager Andy Nota said Thursday five police officers have tested positive for COVID-19, four who had been vaccinated and one who had not. So far, the officers are only experiencing mild symptoms of, Nota said, “a cold-like nature.” All five are not working and isolating as per current R.I. Department of Health guidelines.
That leaves the department down by 11, because of 4 vacancies and 2 employees out for other reasons.
Nota said Chief Steven Brown is using overtime to fulfill minimum manning requirements. “We expect this to be a short-term issue, although the matter remains fluid and can improve or worsen at any time,” he said. Regarding those out with COVID, “we will follow up with subsequent testing for these individuals to allow a return to work at the appropriate time in the coming weeks.”
Nota said the police department has implemented an internal mask mandate to limit additional exposure.
In general, Nota said, this is a tough time for hiring new officers, noting a shortage of candidates, a situation that could continue “for the foreseeable future.”
The Town has an indoor masking policy for all public gatherings and meetings. Masks are recommended but not required for short-term interactions with town personnel in all public buildings.
“We continue to monitor this policy on a daily basis and will make any necessary changes should conditions change warranting a tightening or lessening of these restrictions in a timely manner,” said Nota. “We are seeing a slow migration to more restrictive indoor masking policies around the state at the municipal and state level of government.”
Additionally, a number of town services can be accessed online. Find the town’s website HERE.