Detroit, MI – A 38-year-old Detroit police dispatcher died early Monday morning after he returned from vacation sick and went to work.
Detroit Mayor Mike Duggan said the dispatcher, whose name has not been released, traveled out of state on vacation during the week of March 9.
When he returned to work on March 16, he wasn’t feeling well and ended up taking sick leave the following day, the mayor explained during a press conference on Tuesday.
The dispatcher worked one more shift on March 18 before he took another sick day on March 19.
He was admitted to intensive care for suspected bronchitis on Saturday, WJBK reported.
Duggan said that the dispatcher’s COVID-19 test result did not come back until hours after he passed away early Monday morning.
Wayne State University Dr. Robert Dunne, who has been working with the department’s employees, said that the dispatcher did not have any significant pre-existing medical issues.
“It is not just elderly people who are dying of this disease,” Duggan said during the press conference. “It is critical that we respect the social distancing rules.”
The mayor said he is withholding the dispatcher’s name out of respect for his family.
“The thoughts and prayers of every Detroiter are with you today,” Duggan told the employee’s loved ones.
Detroit Police Chief James Craig said he has spoken with the employee’s parents on multiple occasions.
The dispatcher served the City of Detroit for a total of 11 years. He initially worked for the city’s transportation department before he joined the DPD eight years ago, Chief Craig said.
“Make no mistake – our 911 call-takers, our dispatchers are indeed first responders,” the chief continued. “He was beloved. He was respected by all who worked with him…He’s going to be truly missed.”
The Detroit Police Department’s (DPD) had already established a backup 911 center to be utilized in the event the primary facility was ever compromised, WJBK reported.
The 911 operators have already been moved to the backup facility while the primary center is being deep-cleaned.
“Had this happened two years ago, this would have been an operational difficulty,” Duggan explained. “Because we have [other] sources, I doubt any citizens were even aware the transition took place.”
The dispatcher’s death was the first COVID-19 fatality for DPD.
Nearly 300 DPD officers have been quarantined and nine have tested positive for the novel coronavirus as of Tuesday, WJBK reported.