MIDDLETOWN TOWNSHIP >> A Middletown Township Police officer who tested positive this week for COVID-19 has experienced moderate symptoms and hopes to return to work when cleared.
Bucks County District Attorney Matthew D. Weintraub spoke on Saturday, March 21 via video messaging with Officer Ryan Morrison, who learned Friday, March 20 that he is infected with the virus. He will remain isolated in his home for a minimum of seven days.
Morrison never had any symptoms while working and has not returned to work since becoming symptomatic.
The officer said he felt returning to work without first getting tested for the virus would have been a selfish decision.
“I figured I’d go get tested, because if I were going to work Friday with symptoms, if I had it, I’d spread it to the rest of the people I work with. And then before you know it the whole police department is out of commission,” Morrison said. “So it’s better to get tested earlier rather than later.”
Despite the COVID-19 outbreak, police across Bucks County continue to serve the public while armed with new protocols in place to protect themselves from the virus while keeping the public safe.
In addition to enhanced hygiene measures, the protocols include a mutual aid agreement which allows the county’s 900-plus officers to patrol any Bucks County jurisdiction should exposure to the virus cause manpower shortages.
“The health and safety of the public is our first priority, and ensuring the community stays safe and healthy requires planning ahead,” said District Attorney Matthew D. Weintraub. “This crisis continues to present new challenges every day, but we’re prepared to work together to meet them and continue doing our jobs.”
Dr. David Damsker, Director of the Bucks County Health Department, said Officer Morrison’s relatively mild symptoms are not unusual among otherwise healthy patients who test positive for COVID-19. He said some of the first people in the county to contract the virus have already recovered.
While the virus can have serious medical consequences, especially among the elderly and immunocompromised, only one case in Bucks County so far has required extended hospitalization, he said.
“People need to know that this virus will cause mild illness in the vast majority of patients, who will fully recover,” Damsker said. “It can be a very serious illness, but for most it’s not the end of the world.”
However, social mitigation efforts like avoiding crowds, staying in your home and keeping non-essential businesses closed are still of paramount importance in slowing the spread of COVID-19.
The Health Department encourages people at home experiencing mild symptoms not to go to the hospital.
“The reality is that many more people are going to test positive for this virus,” Damsker said, “and we need to ensure our hospitals do not become overwhelmed. Otherwise, the people who need care most may not be able to receive it.”
For up-to-date information on the COVID-19 virus and its spread in Bucks County, refer to online resources from the Bucks County Health Department.