At least 29 Florida law enforcement officers have died from COVID-19 as cases and hospitalizations rise throughout the state.
Three officers in the Tampa Bay area recently lost their lives to the virus — St. Petersburg police officer Michael Weiskopf, 52, Manatee Corrections Department worker Douglas Clark, 67, and Polk County sheriff’s deputy Christopher Broadhead, 32, Fox13 reported.
Weiskopf was unvaccinated, but the vaccination status of Clark and Broadhead is unknown.
“Mike could probably be here today if he was vaccinated,” St. Petersburg Police Chief Anthony Holloway told FOX 13. “Wife and I talked about that. But he didn’t. All politics aside, get vaccinated. The wife now has to go through this. The police department has to go through this.”
“When Mike was in the hospital, a lot of officers started getting vaccinated,” Holloway added. “I am telling the officers that are out there listening, deputies, do this, please. If you don’t want to do it for yourself, do it for your family, your coworkers. You need to get vaccinated.”
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Fox 13 reported that 19 staff at the St. Petersburg Police Department were out due to COVID-19 as of Aug. 28. None were hospitalized at the time, according to the outlet.
COVID-19 has taken the lives of at least 120 officers across the country in 2021, according to the Officer Down Memorial Page, which lists the virus as the leading cause of death among law enforcement officials this year.
The number of COVID-19 hospitalizations increased by 4 percent in Florida over the past 14 days bringing the average number of hospitalizations to more than 16,000. Approximately 52 percent of the state is fully vaccinated.
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