Three FHP members test positive for coronavirus

Three FHP members test positive for coronavirus
. (Source: WXIX)

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (WWSB) - Three members of the Florida Highway Patrol have tested positive for the novel coronavirus, a spokesman confirmed to The News Service of Florida on Tuesday.

Spokesman Aaron Keller said the three employees who contracted the highly contagious virus are part of Troop E in Miami, Troop L in Lake Worth and Troop I in Panama City, and the facilities where they work are being decontaminated.

“In each case, the Florida Highway Patrol immediately engaged with local health officials and followed self-isolation guidelines,” Keller, communications director for the state Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles, which includes the highway patrol, said in a statement.

Agency officials have not disclosed exactly when the highway patrol members tested positive for COVID-19, the respiratory illness caused by the coronavirus, or how many people have been identified as coming into close contact with them. The statement also did not provide detailed information about their job duties.

But people who may have been in contact with the infected employees are being notified about their potential exposure, Keller said.

One of the roles highway patrol troopers are playing during the public health emergency involves them helping check motorists entering Florida from Connecticut, Louisiana, New Jersey and New York.

Gov. Ron DeSantis targeted motorists from those states in an executive order to try to slow the spread of the coronavirus from states that are experiencing large numbers of cases.

DeSantis last week mandated that all visitors from the hotspots isolate for 14 days upon entry to Florida or for the duration of their visit, depending on what time period is shorter.

As Florida soared past 6,300 coronavirus cases and 77 deaths as of Tuesday morning, the total number of positive cases within the state's workforce is unknown.

"At this time, we do not have case data broken down by employer," according to a statement provided Tuesday by the state Emergency Operations Center.

However, some state agencies have started to independently report their cases.

Officials with the Florida Department of Corrections officials said Monday evening that they have a dozen confirmed cases among prison employees and no cases within the inmate population. Also, the Department of Juvenile Justice announced Sunday that an employee at a South Florida juvenile-justice facility had tested positive. The facility is operated by a contractor.

If state workers need to miss work to self-isolate due to COVID-19 exposure, they can use accrued paid time off, whether it be annual, sick, or personal leave.

DeSantis has also directed state agencies to allow employees to donate paid time off to colleagues who run out of paid leave as a result of COVID-19.

“The employee requesting to use donated leave must exhaust all accrued personal leave and have a documented/legitimate reason(s) regarding COVID-19 to be absent from their work location,” officials wrote to state workers in a memo obtained by The News Service of Florida.

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