High School Student 3D Prints Face Shields for Law Enforcement, Others

Introducing Project Face Shield! The CSA, CPS, and local 16-year-old future engineer Konnar Jones is switching from respirators to making face shields. Hospitals and first responders are asking for these shields – 5,000 or more are needed. The group is also asking other local 3D print owners to join them in their efforts. The website with the shield files is attached. The group is also  working on protocol for getting the shields shipped to them for distribution. Information will be posted soon on the Columbia STEM Alliance website…



Healthcare providers biggest challenge is still a shortage of personal protective equipment.

One Columbia high school student saw the need in the community and he printed a solution.

Konnar Jones is 3D printing face shields to donate to hospitals and first responders during the coronavirus pandemic.

He prints 30 face shields a day with 24/7 printing. Jones said he had to go through several design changes.

“It’s just hours and days worth of changes,” Jones said.

He’s working with Executive Director of the Columbia Stem Alliance Craig Adams. Their goal is to print 6,000 face shields.

Adams said the hard part is finding things like elastic, and the acetate material for the visor.

“It’s an awesome feeling to be able to help people. My family is a law enforcement family. So that’s just what we do. I’m finally being able to help people with the skills that I have. It’s just rewarding and I love it,” Jones said.

Adams said Jones has been 3D printing since the fifth grade.

“It’s impressive. He’s a really special individual. He was driven from an early age to do this. He’s got some great training from the career center and the classes he’s taken,” Adams said.

Adams said he doesn’t look at Jones as a 16 year old anymore. He said he views Jones as a colleague.

“Its phenomenal to see what somebody can do when they’ve got the skill and they’ve got the motivation and the curiosity that it takes to do that,” Adams said.

Jones said he would like more people to join the project.

If you’d like to donate money, materials or 3D print face shields reach out to Craig Adams craigadams1965@gmail.com.

For more information please visit Columbia Stem Alliance’s website and Facebook page.The grou

Hospitals Now Allowed to Share COVID-19 Patient Info with First Responders

An FDNY provider wears personal protective equipment outside a COVID-19 testing site at Elmhurst Hospital Center in New York. (AP Photo/John Minchillo)

Many hospitals and healthcare facilities have long resisted sharing any protected health information (PHI) about patients with their public safety partners – even when sharing that important information was permissible under HIPAA. Now, in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic, the HHS Office of Civil Rights (which enforces HIPAA) has issued important guidance to those facilities that should help clear the ​​way for better information sharing about COVID-19 infected patients with law enforcement, firefighters, paramedics and EMS agencies.

The March 24, 2020, guidance clarifies that the HIPAA privacy rule permits a covered entity (e.g., hospitals, nursing homes and other medical facilities) to disclose the PHI of an individual who has been infected with or exposed to, COVID-19, with law enforcement, paramedics, other first responders and public health authorities. The circumstances described in the guidance are exceptions to the general rule that covered entities may not disclose PHI to others without authorization of the patient and are not new – they’ve always been in the regulations:

  • When the disclosure is needed to provide treatment. Permits disclosure of PHI about an individual who has COVID-19 to EMS personnel who will provide treatment while transporting the patient to a hospital emergency department or other location.
  • When notification is required by law. Permits disclose of PHI about an individual who tests positive for COVID-19 in accordance with a state law requiring the reporting of confirmed or suspected cases of infectious disease to public health officials.
  • To notify a public health authority in order to prevent or control the spread of disease. Permits disclosure of PHI to a public health authority (such as the CDC, or state, tribal, local and territorial public health departments) that is authorized by law to collect or receive PHI for the purpose of preventing or controlling disease, injury or disability, including for public health surveillance, public health investigations and public health interventions.
  • When first responders may be at risk of infection. Permits disclosure of PHI to a first responder who may have been exposed to COVID-19, or may otherwise be at risk of contracting or spreading COVID-19, if the covered entity is authorized by law to notify persons as necessary in the conduct of a public health intervention or investigation. HIPAA permits a county health department to disclose PHI to a police officer or other person who may have had contact with a person who tested positive for COVID-19, for purposes of preventing or controlling the spread of COVID-19.

When the disclosure of PHI to first responders is necessary to prevent or lessen a serious and imminent threat to the health and safety of a person or the public. This exception has not been used often under HIPAA as it is ordinarily a rare occurrence when it would be invoked – rare until now that is, with a nationwide pandemic of a dangerous and highly contagious virus! This exception permits disclosure of PHI to prevent or lessen a serious and imminent threat to a person or the public, when the disclosure is made to someone they believe can prevent or lessen the threat, which may include the target of the threat.

This exception permits a covered entity, consistent with applicable law and standards of ethical conduct, to disclose PHI about patients – who have tested positive for COVID-19 – to fire department personnel, paramedics, EMTs, ambulance services and others charged with protecting the health or safety of the public. To make the disclosure, the covered entity must have a good faith belief that the disclosure is necessary to prevent or minimize the threat of imminent exposure to such personnel in the discharge of their duties. This exception gives hospitals and any medical facility receiving an EMS patient the authority to share with that EMS agency and its personnel who transported the patient whether the patient was a positive COVID-19 patient, without the authorization of the patient.


One important consideration, as explained in the guidance, is that except when required by law or for treatment disclosures, a covered entity must make reasonable efforts to limit the information disclosed to that which is the “minimum necessary” amount to accomplish the purpose for the disclosure. For example, in sharing PHI about a positive COVID-19 patient, it would likely not be necessary to share information about the patient’s other diagnoses or non-contagious medical conditions.


OCR specifically uses two common EMS examples in explaining the regulations:

Example 1: A covered entity, such as a hospital, may provide a list of the names and addresses of all individuals it knows to have tested positive, or received treatment, for COVID-19 to an EMS dispatch [center] for use on a per-call basis. The EMS dispatch [center] would be allowed to use information on the list to inform EMS personnel who are responding to any particular emergency call so that they can take extra precautions or use personal protective equipment (PPE).

Under this example, the OCR states that a covered entity should not post the contents of such a list publicly, like on the EMS agency’s website or through distribution to the media. A covered entity also should not distribute compiled lists of individuals who are COVID-19 positive to EMS personnel. Instead, it should disclose only an individual patient’s information on a “per-call basis.” Sharing the lists or disclosing them publicly would not ordinarily constitute the minimum necessary amount of information to accomplish the purpose of the disclosure (i.e., protecting the health and safety of the first responders from infectious disease for each particular call).

Example 2: A 911 call center may ask screening questions of all callers, for example, their temperature, or whether they have a cough or difficulty breathing, to identify potential cases of COVID-19. The call center is permitted to inform a police officer being dispatched to the scene of the name, address and screening results of the persons who may be encountered so that the officer can take extra precautions or use PPE to lessen the officer’s risk of exposure to COVID-19, even if the subject of the dispatch is for a non-medical situation and even if the dispatch center is a covered entity under HIPAA. (And most public agency 911 centers are not covered entities under HIPAA, so the HIPAA regulations would likely not apply to them).

This example would most certainly permit a situation where the 911 center shared essential information about a COVID-19 patient with any responding EMS or first responder entity. But what information may be shared with first responders and EMS? The minimum amount of information that would be necessary so that responders may take appropriate precautions to minimize the risk of exposure, such as PPE including masks and face shields. OCR says this may also include the patient’s name and the results of their COVID-19 screening.


These rules and the guidance are very helpful in ensuring that EMS agencies have access to essential information about contagious patients they transport. They help take away the “hide behind HIPAA” approach that some hospitals and facilities have followed to completely shut down any sharing of patient information with EMS. The problem is that this is a permissive regulation – meaning that hospitals “may” share this PHI with EMS – but they are not required to do so.


The Ryan White HIV/AIDS Treatment Extension Act of 2009 is a federal law named in honor of an Indiana teenager who lost his life to AIDS after contracting the disease through a tainted blood transfusion. The act requires a medical facility to notify, upon request, an emergency response agency if a patient transported by that agency to the medical facility is diagnosed with a potentially life-threatening infectious disease. The notification provisions are now contained in the Public Health Services Law of 2019, Title 26, Part G. It’s been applied in the context of AIDS, Ebola and SARS in the past.

But does the Ryan White Law apply to hospitals and this COVID-19 pandemic? We believe that it does – and so does nationally known EMS infection control expert and author Katherine West, BSN, MSEd. According to West, “COVID-19 is the disease caused by the novel coronavirus SARS-CoV-2, which is in the SARS-CoV family. SARS-CoV and Novel Influenza A viruses are on the CDC list of Potentially Life-Threatening Infectious Diseases: Routinely Transmitted Through Aerosolized Droplet Means which we believe would encompass this novel coronavirus. As such, we believe COVID-19 notifications would be covered by the Ryan White Law.” In that case, West explains, “hospitals would be required to notify the EMS agency designated infection control officer, and then that officer would need to determine whether an exposure to EMS agency personnel actually occurred.”

To help ensure the health and safety of all personnel, EMS agencies should make sure that all pertinent assessment and medical history information is thoroughly documented on the patient care report – especially any signs or symptoms that a patient may have that could indicate active or potential infection with the COVID-19 disease. All EMS field personnel must promptly report a potential COVID-19 patient exposure to a supervisor as well as hospital personnel. Hopefully, with better knowledge about what’s permitted under HIPAA, combined with an understanding of the need to share COVID-19 patient information with EMS providers, hospitals and medical facilities can do the right thing to help reduce the risk of COVID-19 spreading in the EMS community.

The OCR Guidance can be found here.

By Steve Wirth, Esq., EMT-P | Policeone.com 

Supreme Court Responds to Risk of Exposure to COVID-19 in Jails, Prisons

In response to questions about the risk of exposure to COVID-19 in prisons and county and city jails, ​on March 30 ​the Supreme Court of Missouri sent all state judges a letter calling attention to the various rules and statutes governing pretrial release of individuals charged with offenses but not yet found guilty as well as those governing release of individuals who have been found guilty and sentenced. 

In doing so, the Court leaves decisions about the release of any particular individuals to the discretion of local judges to make appropriate decisions under the facts and circumstances of each particular case. 
The verbiage of the letter, ​which is ​available on the Missouri Courts’ COVID-19 alerts page, is included below:

Re: Jail Populations and the Coronavirus Disease (COVID-19)

Dear Judges,

As a result of recent inquiries regarding the risk of exposure to COVID-19 in prisons and county and city jails, the Supreme Court of Missouri wants to call attention to the following rules and statutes.

In 2019, this Court revised its bond and pretrial release rules. Rule 33.01 addresses a defendant’s right to be released from custody pending trial. Rule 29.18 provides individuals detained as a result of a probation or parole violation also have a right to release prior to any final hearing on the matter. Likewise, Rule 37.15 addresses a defendant’s right to be released from custody following an ordinance violation.

Once a defendant has been convicted and sentenced, the power of courts to order release of an incarcerated offender is governed by statute. Missouri courts have the statutory authority to release an offender sentenced to a term in the county jail on judicial parole. Specifically, section 559.100.1 provides:

The circuit courts of this state shall have power, herein provided, to place on probation or to parole persons convicted of any offense over which they have jurisdiction, except as otherwise provided in section 559.115, section 565.020, sections 566.030, 566.060, 566.067, 566.125, 566.151, and 566.210, section 571.015, section 579.170, and subsection 3 of section 589.425.

This authority is limited by section 559.115.1, which provides: “Neither probation nor parole shall be granted by the circuit court between the time the transcript on appeal from the offender’s conviction has been filed in appellate court and the disposition of the appeal by such court.”

Section 559.115.2 further provides that, subject to the limitations in section 559.115.1 and 559.115.8, courts “have the power to grant probation to an offender anytime up to one hundred twenty days after such offender has been delivered to the department of corrections but not thereafter.”

The Court appreciates your continued efforts to prevent the spread of COVID19 in your respective jurisdictions.

Sincerely, GEORGE W. DRAPER III Chief Justice

Supreme Court of Missouri Extends Precautionary Measures to Combat COVID-19

In response to the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19), the Supreme Court of Missouri today extended through Friday, May 1 its statewide suspension of most in-person proceedings, subject to certain listed exceptions for urgent matters required under the constitution or state law or otherwise necessary to protect health or safety.

Despite the restrictions, the state’s courts remain open to conduct necessary business, though access to court buildings – including the Supreme Court Building – has been limited to help prevent the spread of the disease. The Court’s order does not affect a court’s ability to consider or rule on matters and does not affect required deadlines through the state’s electronic filing system.

The Court’s order authorizes local courts to determine how best to conduct the excepted proceedings and other necessary court business. The Missouri Courts COVID-19 alert page – https://www.courts.mo.gov/pandemic/, launched March 13 – links to the various orders and notices issued by the Court, the three districts of the Missouri Court of Appeals, each of the state’s 115 circuit courts and a growing number of the state’s stand-alone municipal divisions. This web page is updated throughout each day as new information become available. Individuals with questions about the status of particular cases should check Case.net, sign up for alerts through Case.net’s Track This Case tool, ask their attorney or contact the local clerk’s office.

As information about and best practices for dealing with COVID-19 continue to evolve, the Court will continue to discuss how best to balance the health and safety of the public, judges and court staff statewide with the judicial branch’s responsibility to uphold the constitutional rights of litigants seeking redress and other core constitutional functions.

Last Year’s CDC Drill Revealed Potential Problems in Handling Pandemic

A fake flu drill ​conducted in 2019 ​eerily mirrored the real coronavirus outbreak the country is struggling through now, right down to some of the recommendations​.​

A severe unknown flu virus is sweeping the world, nearly 14,000 have already died, the World Health Organization has declared a pandemic, and while U.S. officials know the virus is here they have no idea how many people have been infected because not enough testing has been done.

Welcome to “Crimson Contagion” – a CDC-led exercise last summer that has almost eerily played out in real life not more than nine months later. The Courant obtained a copy of the CDC exercise Thursday, each page has the word “exercise” written in giant letters across the page and warns it is for “internal government use only.”

Officials from 15 states from New Hampshire to Idaho and several federal agencies participated in the exercise. One of them was the Connecticut Department of Public Health, which had dozens of people involved in it — many of whom are now leading the state’s response to the real deal COVID-19.

The New York Times reported that a draft report from the exercise revealed widespread confusion among federal agencies taking part in the pandemic exercise. According to the Times, it was uncertain which federal agencies were in charge, hospitals struggled to find equipment and cities and states acted independently to close schools.

The fake flu pandemic eerily mirrors the real coronavirus outbreak the country is struggling through now, right down to some of the recommendations such as – decrease social interactions whenever possible, imploring people to stay home when sick, prepare for prolonged school closures and the cancellation of mass gatherings.

But DPH spokesman Av Harris, who particapted in the drill, said there are several things that have come up in fighting the real one that weren’t addresse​d​ in the summer one.

“The issue of child care for priority people such as health care workers and first responders is a much bigger problem than anticipated,” Harris said. “We are still actively trying to solve that problem and it is just as critical as the lack of ventilators or the need for personal protection equipment.”

Harris said representatives of the states Department of Emergency Management and Homeland Security also were involved in the drill and the state opened its emergency operations center just as it has now. Harris said at DPH people from Infectious Diseases, Preparedness and Response and administrators participated in the drill.

Under the simulation, a flu labeled H7N9 originated in China and was believed to be brought back to the United States by a Chicago man.

As with COVID-19, under the drill some parts of the United States experienced high 2019 H7N9 activity; other parts of the country weren’t widely affected.

It also talked about testing, or lack thereof.

“At this point in the pandemic, laboratory confirmed case counts represent an underestimate of the true burden of 2019 H7N9 related disease in the United States because of the large number of people sick and the fact that not all people infected are tested,” the report said.

One of the biggest issues with the COVID-19 pandemic has been the United States slowly ramping up testing of its citizens. In Connecticut less than 100 people were tested in the first week of the emergency and it was only this week that several drive through testing facilities opened and more people could get tested.

As a result the numbers of positive cases have risen steadily to 162 cases as of Thursday. Three people have died in the past few days and officials are warning the worst is yet to hit the state. While the majority of the cases, and all of the deaths have been in Southwestern Connecticut there are now positive tests in every county but New London County.

Harris said the other issue that didn’t come up in the drill was communicating with employees working remotely.

“Everyone is working from home now from all businesses and that’s caused some issues with WiFi overload,” Harris said.

Harris said the drill lasted several hours and was a learning experience.

“But I don’t think any person who was there and participated in the drill had any idea that in such a short period of time we’d see the real thing.”

​ ​Dave Altimari | Hartford Courant  ​McClatchy-Tribune News Service

COVID-19 Webinars Available to Law Enforcement, First Responders

No-Cost training on COVID-19 is being made available for law enforcement and first responders through PoliceOne Academy.

Agencies currently using PoliceOne Academy can access the training through their normal P1A account.

For those agencies not using PoliceOne Academy, they can access the training by going to https://www.lexipol.com/coronavirus/, and again, it is 100 percent free.

An individual can self-sign-up to get access to the training, but if a training supervisor wants to make the training available to his or her entire department, that is free too.

The website states that the individual training would be helpful for law enforcement officers, fire and EMS, corrections officers and city employees.

Department heads and leaders should register under the tab titled “Organizational & Agency.” After filling it out,  someone from the PoliceOne staff will on-board the department and roster information so the training can be assigned to all personnel and progress can be tracked.

COVID-19 Response for Chiefs and Administrators, contains policies and the Roll-call video by Gordon on Pandemic Ready as well as the following courses:

  • Business Continuity
  • Crisis Management
  • Dealing with the Media
  • Pandemic Planning – Elements of the Plan
  • Pandemic Planning – The Planning Organization  

COVID Response for Police contains the following courses:

  • COVID-19 for Law Enforcement
  • COVID-19 for Local Government Personnel
  • Infectious and Communicable Diseases
  • Airborne and Bloodborne Pathogens
  • Roll-call video by Gordon on Pandemic Ready

There will be additional policies added to it throughout the weekend, so it matches everything listed above.

 Please feel free to share this – we want to do our part to keep our cops and their families safe!

County Jails Lack Protective Equipment for Coronavirus Pandemic

A supply of N95 protective masks are stored and ready in the supply room of the Emergency Department on Thursday, Feb. 27, 2020, at St. Clare Hospital in Fenton. The N95 masks are the type of masks that filter airborne particles such as those produced by the co​​rona virus. Photo by J.B. Forbes, jforbes@post-dispatch.com

In a conference call last Wednesday, experts from across the country discussed a shortage of protective equipment and other measures to combat a potential outbreak of the coronavirus in county jails.

“Among many topics, we talked about a shortage of personal protective equipment and N95 masks for law enforcement and jail personnel,” Kevin Merritt, executive director of the Missouri Sheriff’s Association, said by email. “Priority is given to EMS responders and health care facilities.”

The protective equipment helps protect against the spread of infectious disease.

Merritt said the shortage of equipment was among the concerns mentioned in a conference call about COVID-19 on Wednesday with representatives of the White House, Department of Justice, Department of Homeland Security, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and other experts.

Merritt said the following precautions are suggested to sheriffs and jail administrators:

• Screen staff, arrestees and current incarcerated population for COVID-19.

• Prepare to handle staff coming to work despite being ill because they do not have paid leave or enough paid leave who may pose a risk to other staff and inmates.

• Do non-contact visitation.

• Limit contact between inmates and the community during trips outside of jails.

• Use telemedicine when possible for medical appointments.

St. Louis Today

What Can Law Enforcement Do to Stay Safe During COVID-19?

Police check cars and pedestrians at a checkpoint at the entrance to the Village of Key Biscayne, Fla., Monday, March 23, 2020. The village issued an emergency order, banning all travel, starting Monday, within the village by non-residents, with a few exceptions. (AP Photo/Wilfredo Lee)

The COVID-19 pandemic is bo​​mbarding us at every turn. As a result, it can be easy to dismiss all the information as hype or over-reaction. You cannot let that become your mindset. The coronavirus is present in our communities, and it is our responsibility to take precautions to avoid infection or spreading the virus. This means changing how you provide services so you can still protect yourself and your community. So, as a patrol officer what can you do?


Read and understand your agency’s current policies and procedures for dealing with COVID-19. There may be additional preventive guidelines on bloodborne pathogens, communicable diseases, or other biohazardous exposure. If you have any questions, ask. If you have any expertise on a topic from your training, offer to share your knowledge with others within your agency. Regardless of rank, knowledge stands on its own. It is always appreciated when someone expresses concern about an issue and offers a solution.


You should have a PPE kit. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends your PPE kit contains at a minimum:

  • Disposable examination gloves
  • Disposable isolation gown or coveralls
  • An N95 or higher-level respirator
  • Eye protection

If you do not have access to a respirator, a facemask may be an alternative. Your eye protection should completely cover your eyes on the front and side. It is crucial that you know the location of your PPE kit, how to use it and that it is properly maintained. Now is not the time to find out your kit is missing equipment or that you do not know how to use the equipment when you’re out in the field.

Always use your disposable examination gloves. Viruses can be spread by touching contaminated surfaces. Protect yourself by using your gloves as a barrier between surfaces and your hands. Do not reuse disposable gloves. Remove and dispose of the gloves before touching another person or as soon as practical. Always wash your hands or use hand sanitizer immediately after removing your gloves.


The virus causing COVID-19 is thought to spread via respiratory droplets during close contact. This can occur when an infected person sneezes or coughs and respiratory droplets enter the respiratory systems of people who are nearby. As with bloodborne pathogens, the CDC also expresses concerns about contact with other bodily fluids such as blood and mucus from an individual carrying COVID-19.

As much as possible, limit direct contact with people. That is not an easy task based on the nature of your work as a law enforcement officer. But these are not normal times. You must make wise decisions to avoid direct contact for everyone’s safety. A health threat anywhere is a health threat everywhere. For example, you may want to avoid going into a business for a cup of coffee and instead opt to use a drive-through. A friendly wave may be better than stopping to talk to a group of kids. If allowed by your agency, consider handling calls for service that are not “in progress” or an “emergency” over the telephone.

If you’re responding to a situation that requires close contact, try to limit your exposure to persons who may be ill or have COVID-19 type symptoms. Allow emergency medical personnel to assess and treat patients. Wear your PPE and follow disinfecting procedures if you are required to assist emergency medical personnel.


There are times we must talk with people at their homes, businesses or other calls for service. During those calls, try to control the distance between you and the person you are speaking with. Because the virus can be spread through respiratory droplets, it is recommended you keep a 6-foot distance between yourself and others.

As you know, keeping that distance is not always possible. When you place someone under arrest, work crash scenes or are near others, your uniform and equipment may become contaminated. As a result, you need to properly clean and disinfect your equipment. Your duty belt and gear should be cleaned using a disinfecting wipe or spray before reuse. If your uniform is contaminated (such as being spit on, sneezed/coughed on or exposed to blood) change into a clean uniform. At a minimum, wear a clean uniform each day and launder your uniform after each use. Avoid shaking clothes when taking them off or before cleaning.

If you must transport a person, close any partitions between yourself and the transported person. Open any outside air vents or open a window in the driver’s area and in the rear of the vehicle to help create airflow to move air out of the patrol vehicle. Disinfect your patrol vehicle after each transport. Using a disinfecting wipe or spray, clean the passenger compartments and anything that may have been touched or exposed to respiratory droplets. Although doing this may take some extra time, it may save a great deal of time, effort, or even lives later down the road. Again, wear your PPE when there is a possible exposure to bodily fluids.


The CDC recommends you wash your hands using soap and water for a minimum of 20 seconds. Use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer containing at least 60% alcohol if soap and water are not available. To avoid dangerous drug interactions, alcohol-based hand sanitizers should not be used if you suspect you have had direct contact with an illicit drug. Avoid touching your face. Do not wash your face until after washing your hands to avoid spreading germs or contamination from dirty hands.


Lastly, if you suspect you have been exposed to COVID-19 or feel ill, notify your supervisor. Depending on the circumstances, it may be appropriate to contact a health professional and follow their recommendations.

The global pandemic will require a change of mindset in how you and your agency conduct daily business. It is important to limit your chance of catching or spreading the virus to your coworkers, family and the community. As law enforcement professionals, we must be available to assist those in need, maintain law and order and, as always, go home safe every day.

Center for Disease Control and Prevention. What Law Enforcement Personnel Need to Know about Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19), March 14, 2020.

Center for Disease Control and Prevention. Interim Guidance for Emergency Medical Services (EMS) Systems and 911 Public Safety Answering Points (PSAPs) for COVID-19 in the United States, March 10, 2020.

By David Belmonte | Policeone.com

About the author
David Belmonte is a content developer for Lexipol. David is a retired chief of police of the Lake Bluff (Illinois) Police Department with 31 years of law enforcement experience. He holds a bachelor’s degree from Columbia College of Missouri, a master’s degree from Webster University and is a graduate of the 237th session of the FBI National Academy.

COVID-19 FAQs for Law Enforcement

While there is much we still do not know about the novel coronavirus that causes COVID-19, we do know that the donning of personal protective equipment (PPE) can help reduce the risk of infection for frontline personnel.

Below we answer some frequently asked questions about PPE and other associated issues around the COVID-19 pandemic.


An N95 mask is designed to form a seal around the nose and mouth, preventing airborne particles from reaching the wearer of the mask. They are commonly used in healthcare, construction or other jobs that expose workers to dust and small particles. Prior to the utilization of an N95 mask, users undergo fit testing to ensure that the mask is effective.


N95 masks differ from surgical masks because they have a tighter fit and provide additional protection from airborne particles while a surgical mask only provides droplet protection. Surgical masks, which also might be called dust masks, are designed to protect against sneezes, fluids or splatters that may contain germs. Surgical masks don’t protect against the inhalation of germs in the air, which the N95 mask protects against.


Healthcare providers will use N95 masks to treat patients with respiratory symptoms (such as coughing and sneezing) to help prevent transmission of disease.


Surgical masks, which also might be called dust masks, are designed to protect against sneezes, fluids or splatters that may contain germs.


Patients with symptoms may be asked to wear a mask so that they reduce the number of germs they cough or sneeze onto people and surfaces near them.


Possibly, certain facial hair prevents the N95 from fitting correctly. Facial hair should be completely contained within the N95 mask boundaries. See the image below for guidance. Surgical masks/dust masks don’t require you to be clean-shaven.


Normally N95 masks are intended for single-use and should not be shared. Because of the national emergency, the CDC has posted National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) guidelines for extended use and limited reuse of N95 masks. Read more on stretching your service’s supply of N95 respirators.​​


Ventilators are machines that breathe automatically for a patient while they are sedated. They are used in ICUs when patients are unable to get enough oxygen on their own and during surgery when a patient is under anesthesia.


COVID-19 targets the lungs, leading to complications like pneumonia and acute respiratory distress syndrome, conditions which may cause a patient to need a ventilator to breathe for them while their body is fighting the infection.

Currently, hospitals have ventilators proportional to the number of beds they have. For example, a 150-bed hospital may have 20 ventilators. This has worked so far because not every hospitalized patient needs a ventilator but if a lot of patients who need respiratory support are admitted, eventually there won’t be enough machines for every patient. If large numbers of patients are admitted to the hospital all at once, the system will get overwhelmed.


Exponential growth is growth that increases even more rapidly the more cases that are present. Therefore, if cases are doubling every day, 1 person will become 2, then 4, 8, 16, 32, 64, 128, 256, 512, 1024 and so on.


Small numbers will become much larger in a short period of time without any intervention. For example, one infected person will lead to one hundred and twenty-eight in a week. Then in two weeks, there will be 16,384 sick people.

What questions do you have about protecting your health during the COVID-19 pandemic? Email editor@policeone.com.

By Marianne Meyers | Policeone.com
​About the author: ​Marianne Meyers, BS, is a third-year medical student at the University of Washington School of Medicine interested in pursuing emergency medicine. Previously, she was a member of the Santa Clara University collegiate EMS squad where she received her B.S. in Public Health Science. Additionally, she has worked with the King County Public Health Department in Seattle, Washington studying EMT naloxone administration.
References​: ​World Health Organization. Coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19): situation report, 46, March 6, 2020.

FBI Sees Rise in Fraud Schemes Related to Coronavirus Pandemic

Scammers are leveraging the COVID-19 pandemic to steal your money, your personal information, or both. Don’t let them. Protect yourself and do your research before clicking on links purporting to provide information on the virus; donating to a charity online or through social media; contributing to a crowdfunding campaign; purchasing products online; or giving up your personal information in order to receive money or oth​​er benefits. The FBI advises you to be on the lookout for the following:

Fake CDC Emails. Watch out for emails claiming to be from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) or other organizations claiming to offer information on the virus. Do not click links or open attachments you do not recognize. Fraudsters can use links in emails to deliver malware to your computer to steal personal information or to lock your computer and demand payment. Be wary of websites and apps claiming to track COVID-19 cases worldwide. Criminals are using malicious websites to infect and lock devices until payment is received.

Phishing Emails. Look out for phishing emails asking you to verify your personal information in order to receive an economic stimulus check from the government. While talk of economic stimulus checks has been in the news cycle, government agencies are not sending unsolicited emails seeking your private information in order to send you money. Phishing emails may also claim to be related to:

  • Charitable contributions
  • General financial relief
  • Airline carrier refunds
  • Fake cures and vaccines
  • Fake testing kit

Counterfeit Treatments or Equipment. Be cautious of anyone selling products that claim to prevent, treat, diagnose, or cure COVID-19. Be alert to counterfeit products such as sanitizing products and Personal Protective Equipment (PPE), including N95 respirator masks, goggles, full face shields, protective gowns, and gloves. More information on unapproved or counterfeit PPE can be found at www.cdc.gov/niosh. You can also find information on the U.S. Food and Drug Administration website, www.fda.gov, and the Environmental Protection Agency website, www.epa.gov. Report counterfeit products at www.ic3.gov and to the National Intellectual Property Rights Coordination Center at iprcenter.gov.

If you are looking for accurate and up-to-date information on COVID-19, the CDC has posted extensive guidance and information that is updated frequently. The best sources for authoritative information on COVID-19 are www.cdc.gov and www.coronavirus.gov. You may also consult your primary care physician for guidance.

The FBI is reminding you to always use good cyber hygiene and security measures. By remembering the following tips, you can protect yourself and help stop criminal activity:

  • Do not open attachments or click links within emails from senders you don’t recognize.
  • Do not provide your username, password, date of birth, social security number, financial data, or other personal information in response to an email or robocall.
  • Always verify the web address of legitimate websites and manually type them into your browser.
  • Check for misspellings or wrong domains within a link (for example, an address that should end in a “.gov” ends in .com” instead).

If you believe you are the victim of an Internet scam or cyber crime, or if you want to report suspicious activity, please visit the FBI’s Internet Crime Complaint Center at www.ic3.gov.