Huntsville Police, Mayor talk about Coronavirus and social distancing

The police chief said no officers have tested positive for Coronavirus so far.

Posted: Mar 26, 2020 6:37 PM

The Huntsville Police Department is making changes during the pandemic to keep it's officers healthy.

Mark McMurray, police chief, said some officers in the department were tested for Coronavirus, but the tests came back negative. He said right now they are not allowing officers to congregate to ​abide by social distancing guidelines.

The department said it passed out personal protective equipment to every officer which included masks, gloves and hand sanitizer. Huntsville Fire and Rescue gave police the masks while the department ordered more, he said. McMurray said the department also reduced training, stopped roll call and are asking for everyone to stay six feet away from each other.

"Itt's been working out great. The few little scares we had and several have gone down and gone through the line to be tested down at John Hunt Park. It's all come back negative," he said.

Right now, police said less calls are coming in to dispatch and there are more officers available to patrol. McMurray also re-assigned school resource officers back to patrol.

The department also relaxed time off regulations because McMurray believes fewer officers lessens the risk of Coronavirus hitting the department and spreading.

Mayor Battle said there are still no plans to shelter in place in Huntsville. This came minutes after Jeff Birdwell, Huntsville-Madison County Emergency Managment Director, announced the health department is investigating a possible Coronavirus related death.

"We're going to follow the CDC guidelines. We are going to follow the Alabama Department of Public Health. We will do everything that we do in conjunction with both the Alabama Department of Health, CDC guidelines and with our local health organizations. We talk on a continuous basis and will continue to monitor," Battle said.

Battle also said social distancing is something everyone in the city needs to practice, and he instructed people to gesture separating by using their hands to people who are not following the order.

"Our whole motto and everything we are working for is separate. We will have new hand signals in the City of Huntsville if you see somebody not separating you can go like this and this and smile nice at them and nod," he said.

Battle said the idea of the hand gesture came after people in big stores were not social distancing by staying six feet away from each other. He said the city even plans to put signs in city parks by the weekend.

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