MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — The Minnesota Department of Health says a St. Paul police officer has tested positive for coronavirus (COVID-19). Public health officials have told the officer, Eric Vang-Sitcler, that he could not have infected any of his fellow officers.

His last contact with the department was on March 11 and investigators “are not concerned about any of his encounters with people prior to March 12.”

Now Vang-Sitcler is encouraging others to protect themselves from the disease. He writes that he’s hoping for a mild case of COVID-19 because of his “age, healthy lifestyle, and lack of underlying health complications.” He also acknowledged that others in the community may be facing different circumstances.

In a message sent to WCCO that was approved for distribution by the office of the police chief, Vang-Sitcler wrote:

On March 12 I took a trip with family and friends. We had a Public Health Nurse and a Medical Doctor in our party. They constantly reminded us to correctly wash our hands, wipe down surfaces, and maintain social distance. We followed all of the Public Health recommendations as we went about our days. We specifically avoided places where we’d have contact with strangers and crowds and spent our time outdoors away from others. We are all back home now. While everyone else from our trip feels well, my sickness has just become a significant burden on my family. They have been quarantined for the next two weeks and could possibly go through a similar health episode – we are closely watching for any signs and symptoms. This brings me to my second point.

The use of personal protective equipment and the other recommended precautions are less about us and more about our families and the community. Like most of you, I accept the risks that come with this job, but I refuse to unnecessarily risk my family or the public. I don’t mind being sick, but I’m infuriated that perhaps someone else’s negligence may have caused me to get sick – which caused my family to worry and to be quarantined. Please remember how easily this virus infects, even when an individual does not have symptoms. Protect yourself, protect each other, protect your families, and protect the untold thousands of people connected to them. Take good care and be well!

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