Maple Grove Announces First COVID-19 Case, Adjusts Police Patrol Schedules
The city of Maple Grove has its first confirmed case of COVID-19, Maple Grove Fire Chief Tim Bush announced this week. Bush believes there are other cases in the city as well.
“We know there are other cases out there, we just don’t have them test confirmed,” said Bush at Monday night’s city council meeting held virtually.
To Bush’s knowledge, there are no confirmed deaths in Maple Grove. As of Wednesday morning, there were 1,154 cases in Minnesota, including 344 in Hennepin County. The number of deaths in Minnesota stands at 39, an increase of five since Tuesday.
The COVID-19 curve hasn’t flattened yet, as models predict cases to spike in Minnesota over the next couple of weeks.
“One of the things we know for sure is we expect the number of new cases, ICU cases, and unfortunately the number of fatalities, to significantly increase in the next couple of weeks,” said Bush.
Minnesota’s COVID-19 data dashboard says 35 percent of the cases are “community spread,” meaning transmission across the Twin Cities has spread rapidly.
COVID-19 Impact: Maple Grove Adjusts Police Patrols to Keep Officers Healthy
Maple Grove is also adjusting its police patrol schedules to keep officers healthy, said Heidi Nelson, Maple Grove’s city manager.
The city is having officers work three 12-hour shifts, followed by four days off. Nelson says some of the officers will be “on the bench” for the three-day shift.
“Calls for service have reduced dramatically in recent weeks, but we know that we need to be prepared for whatever might come next in terms of medical calls or other calls that might start to be part of day-to-day calls,” Nelson said.
Nelson responded to a concern from a resident who wrote the city feeling that a 12-hour shift is “inhumane and puts our officers at risk.”
“We appreciate the concern,” said Nelson. “We are focused on officer wellness and making sure we are able to provide police service to the community for the long run, throughout this situation. We felt this was the best scheduling option we had.”
Maple Grove worked out the new scheduling arrangement with the police union, Nelson said. She noted other neighboring departments are making these types of shifts as well. Nelson says the city was concerned about having too many officers on at once, referencing COVID-19 outbreaks in police departments in different cities across the country.
“We took this change seriously,” said Nelson.
Maple Grove Fire Department Makes Changes Too
The Maple Grove Fire Department has made changes as well. Fire inspectors have distanced themselves to each of the city’s fire stations, instead of in the same office area, said Bush.
Each patrol officer and firefighter will also use air-purifying respirator masks, which look like a “gas mask,” when responding to calls. Bush says these masks have advantages over the N95 medical-grade masks. The respirator masks protect the face and eyes, and don’t require a shield like the N95 masks do.