SALT LAKE CITY, Utah (ABC4 News) – Dozens of officers within the Salt Lake City Police Department have been placed in quarantine, so how will that impact Wednesday night’s vice presidential debate being held at the University of Utah? Well, according to an SLCPD detective, it won’t.
As news outlets around Utah, and the entire country for that matter, caught wind of the high number of officers affected by COVID-19, security questions arose about how a city with such a large portion of its force unable to work could handle the big event.
The answer is simple, says Detective Michael Ruff, SLCPD is not the lead agency over the debate. Salt Lake PD, among several other agencies, are only assisting the University of Utah Police, who have jurisdiction over the venue.
“We have been planning the debate for a year now and are fully prepared to help out where we are needed,” says Ruff. “We are a supporting agency only, so the main security is coming from the U and the secret service.”
Ruff says he is unsure if the number of officers having COVID-19 is really considered an outbreak because, until numbers were released last week, they had not been informed of any positive case totals, only case-by-case positives that might impact staffing issues.
Ruff says Salt Lake City PD currently has 51 officers in quarantine; 16 of those officers are battling active COVID-19 cases, a number, Ruff says, changes by the hour.
The department has been handling positive cases off and on since the onset of the pandemic. Officers needing to be quarantined have been quarantined, and officers testing positive have all recovered, albeit at different rates.
Security efforts for Wednesday night’s debate belong to the University of Utah Police and a collaboration with the secret service as well as multiple other assisting agencies including the Utah Highway Patrol.
Traffic is expected to be impacted.
“There will be some road closures around President’s Circle and Kingsbury Hall,” said Chris Nelson, University of Utah Spokesperson. “So, pretty much from Tuesday evening through Wednesday, University Street and 100 South, you’ll want to avoid that area.”
Primary Children’s Hospital will have open access for anyone needing medical care.
All campus buildings are closed with the exception of the health care system, in what is called a “coronavirus circuit breaker.”
In the event there are protests, the University is asking everybody who plans to come up to the area to wear masks, practice social distancing. Nelson said they will respect peaceful protests and those who want to make their voices heard.