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3 Cobourg police special constables test positive for COVID-19

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An outbreak of COVID-19 has been declared at the Cobourg Police Station. Mark Giunta reports – Feb 8, 2021

Three Cobourg Police Service (CPS) staff members have tested positive for COVID-19, but the chief of police says any impact to service is minor.

According to CPS, one of the special constables received a positive test on Feb. 4.  Through case and contact tracing, two additional cases were detected.

“One of our part-time members, who also works at another part-time job and that’s where we think he contracted it, became sick on or about Jan. 28-29, when he had contact,” said Chief Paul VandeGraaf.

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“Our pandemic plan and communication plan with staff has been clear and this member stayed home on Feb. 1 and 2.  Out of abundance of caution, he went and got a COVID test and tested positive.”

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VandeGraaf said contact tracing followed using a facial recognition and screening station.

“Everyone who enters the building goes through the station.  We were able to print a list of people and times and dates and nail down the next layer of contact tracing,” VandeGraaf said. “We reached out to those people and had them get tested. A great deal came back negative, but we had two people, who had contact with the first person, come back positive.”

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VandeGraaf tells Global News Peterborough that all three members worked the front desk together, but the station is closed to the public, so it’s believed the cases were contained to those three special constables.

“The member, the first and then the next two, were isolated in the station, instead of in the community.  We know from a work perspective, there was no community spread. I can’t speak of what they did in their own time.”

Heavy cleaning of the area where they worked was completed.

Special constables are heavily involved in community patrols as well as court security.

“We’re using them, with our station closed, we’ve ramped up our online reporting systems and phone.  At this time, they were at the front desk at the station and were isolating.”

VandeGraaf said the team is broken up and there are cohorts of staff working, so it doesn’t impact the service too much when this happens.

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The three members were tested at the COVID Assessment Centre at Northumberland Hills Hospital.

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VandeGraaf noted that most of the team’s 21 special constables are being tested “out of an abundance of caution.”

“I’d say 70 to 80 per cent of my service has been tested.”

“There’s a small impact. We have a really robust pandemic plan. There’s a low potential, through personal relationships, the platoon working today might have been contaminated once or twice or through contract tracing,” VandeGraaf added.

“Out of an abundance of caution, we redeployed our team today and put different people on the road.  We’re getting all of our officers that would’ve worked today tested to get some negative results just to make sure and to be cautious.”

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