MIAMI (CBSMIAMI) — Miami Police Chief Jorge Colina is speaking out for the first time about his battle against the coronavirus which he found out he had last Friday.
The 53-year-old Colina tells CBS4’s Peter D’Oench that he has had some difficult days but he is getting better and he appreciates the public’s support and says he is proud of his nearly 1400 officers and 400 civilian employees.
“We have had 22 people come back positive. Twenty of them are officers and two are civilian employees. Nine officers are back at work. We have 11 at home recuperating. Everyone is doing better. We did have a couple of them who were hit pretty hard but they are getting much better. They are getting stronger at home.
Colina spoke in detail about his symptoms and was surprised to learn that COVID-19 gave him a stomach ache.
He said on Friday of last week he had a “low-grade fever” and felt ill and “It kind of went rapidly. I found out Friday I had tested positive. I had a pain in my stomach and I had a bad headache and I just felt generally fatigued. I had a bad headache and several days of stomach pain. I had not heard that was a symptom. I discovered that it is. Also, I had fatigue, Peter. I just got up and about but I was fatigued.”
Colina said “After a couple of days when I forced myself to move around which was the medical advice I was given I actually felt much better because I forced my lungs to exercise. Your body is telling you to lay in bed and sleep just like you would if you have a cold or flu basically like you need to be in bed but the reality is that it is not a good idea since your lungs are not expanding the way they should. At least I felt significantly better when I did that.”
Colina, who is a 30-year veteran and who has two children and two grandchildren, has been Police Chief since January of 2018. Before that, he had overseen every division within the Police Department. He had actually self-isolated in mid-March after Mayor Francis Suarez tested positive. Colina at the time tested negative for the virus.
Now he says “I won’t go back to work until I am absolutely certain I am ok because I want to be responsible and not make anybody else ill. Even if I feel fine in the next couple of days I am going to make sure I follow all the protocols. I guess I have another 9 days of this.”
“Any idea how you contracted the virus?” D’Oench asked Colina.
“Not really,” he said. “I have been very careful wearing the mask and as you know Peter we started to have teleconferences and Virtual meetings well over a month ago. And I was always wearing a mask and social distancing. I thought I was being careful but I guess I was not careful enough.”
He says he has tried to keep a good attitude.
“Part of keeping a good attitude is the amount of email and text messages and well wishes I have received from so many different people,” he said. “And that really does lift your spirits.”
In the past Colina had some of his top priorities included increasing community policing and stopping gun violence. As he did before when he self-isolated, he is running the department remotely and Deputy Chief Ron Papier is the Acting Chief.
Asked about his nearly 1800 employees, Colina said, “I can’t tell you how proud I am of them. They are used to going to work and they know it is a dangerous job—-not knowing what’s out there and showing up every day and going out there to serve their Commanders knowing that they could be bringing this virus back home in spite of all the risks that they take and being out there on the road. I am incredibly proud of the work they are doing.”
“And as for my message,” he said, “We still have to be so careful and try to practice social distancing the best we can. Sometimes we forget but you have got to wash your hands and be careful. You have got to take care of yourselves and by doing that you are taking care of the people around you.”
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