Coronavirus is causing chaos all over the United States right now, but things are particularly bad in California, where people are literally calling 911 to report their neighbors for coughing.
Yes, you read that correctly. The panic has progressed to the point where people are snitching on their neighbors just for coughing.
Sgt. Mike Casavan of the Palm Springs Police Department told the Desert Sun that about five calls came in last night from people reporting their neighbors after hearing them cough. Cathedral City police Cmdr. Paul Herrera from the neighboring city of Desert Hot Springs said that his department has been inundated with similar calls.
Dispatchers have typically been forwarding these calls to the fire department, which then sends paramedics to the scene to offer any medical attention that may be needed. Police must take every one of these calls seriously, and can’t discount any of them as “paranoia, hypochondria or fakery.”
Emergency personnel in California were prepared for some fear and paranoia from the public as soon as the outbreak began. When fielding calls about people reporting their neighbors, dispatchers have been asking if the coughing individuals recently returned from a trip abroad. They have now also started asking if the neighbors had come in contact with anyone infected with coronavirus.
California Peace Officers Association President Neil Gallucci, who is also chief of the Carlsbad (California) Police Department, told reporters the worst case scenario is first responders becoming infected by a patient and then spreading it to other first responders, adding that he is doing everything possible to ensure that this does not happen.
“If that happens enough, we worry about calls for service,” Gallucci said. ”We’re prepared to deal with issues that come up, but it’s a concern chiefs worry about.”
He added that it is unlikely that this would happen since police officers and other first responders are trained to maintain sanitary conditions. Indio police spokesman Ben Guitron said that officers have been given things like hand sanitizer and latex gloves to hopefully help them stay healthy.
“We deal with ill people all the time,” he said. “All of the safety measures are already in place… We’ve warned everyone on our staff to be careful, anyone from the front-line officer to detectives and records staff, every part of our department.”
Indio police Assistant Chief Christopher Shaefer added that his department’s goal is to keep “our workforce healthy in spite of everything going on around them. We have to maintain continuity of service to our community. We’ve provided (officers) with the CDC’s coronavirus quick reference guide—maintain good social distance, that kind of thing.”
Please keep all first responders across the United States in your thoughts and prayers during this difficult time.