LAPD orders all department gyms to close as employee COVID-19 cases rise 27% in two weeks

The Los Angeles Police Department on Wednesday ordered the immediate closure of all department gyms effective immediately due to a surge in LAPD positive COVID-19 cases, according to an internal memo obtained exclusively by FOX 11.

According to the memo, sent by LAPD Deputy Chief Dominic Choi, positive COVID-19 cases amongst LAPD personnel have surged 27% in the last two weeks, and 138% in a single day reporting of positive cases.

The memo states that 848 sworn LAPD personnel have now contracted the coronavirus since the pandemic began, accounting for just under ten percent of the rank and file.

Also, 203 civilian LAPD employees have contracted the virus since March. And 1,051 LAPD employees in total have now been infected since the beginning of the pandemic. There have been three LAPD employee deaths due to COVID-19.

In July, civilian detention officer Erica McAdoo lost her life to COVID-19. Also in July, LAPD officer Valentin Martinez passed away due to complications of the virus. And just this past Sunday, 22-year veteran LAPD Sergeant Fred Cueto also died of COVID-19.

COVID-19 remains the leading cause of death for law enforcement officers in the United States. This year, at least 158 officers have died of COVID-19 across the country.

RELATEDStay up to date on all coronavirus-related information

"It is alarming, but we still have to do our job because we’re essential workers,” said Sgt. Jeretta Sandoz, Vice President of the Los Angeles Police Protective League. “Since the start of the pandemic, officers have not been able to shelter in place, so they’re at work all the time, they go to work every day doing the job and putting themselves in danger."

A source provided FOX 11 a photo showing a hazmat team cleaning an LAPD West Bureau station last week, and we’re told more cleaning crews were at least one other station on Wednesday.

"The gyms have been closed at certain stations, there’s been a mixed bag with that, officers do have to stay fit and this is a way for them to release some of their stress that they carry with them day in and day out,” Sandoz said. "If the department can prove that is one of the main reasons why officers are contracting COVID, then by all means, close it down."

Get your top stories delivered daily! Sign up for FOX 11’s Fast 5 newsletter. And, get breaking news alerts in the FOX 11 News app. Download for iOS or Android.