MIAMI (CBSMiami) – South Miami Police Chief Rene Landa is speaking out about his battle against the coronavirus after he contracted the disease just four months after being fully vaccinated.
In an exclusive interview with CBS4’s Peter D’Oench, Landa said, “I was vaccinated back in March and just recently in July I turned around and I got infected. I tested positive.”READ MORE: French Forces Kill ISIS Leader Believed To Be Responsible For Sgt. La David Johnson’s Death
Landa said, “I lost my sense of smell and taste. And there was no energy whatsoever. I was down 14 to 15 hours sleeping. I was just very, very tired. I had no energy whatsoever.”
Of 28 police officers and administrators who were vaccinated, Landa was the only one to get a breakthrough infection. He had been fully vaccinated by March 5th. He is glad that he was inoculated.
“The good thing about it is that by having the vaccine and taking the vaccine, I was able to get back after testing negative within 7 days or 8 days and get back to work,” he said.
Landa said of 28 officers who were not vaccinated, 17 of them contracted COVID.
Landa said, “The concern number one is making sure that they are ok and that we take care of our officers to make sure medically they are ok.”
Landa, who is also President of the Miami-Dade County Association of Chiefs of Police, has concerns about COVID and the highly transmissible Delta Variant.
He said, “This can become a spreader into a police department where you can knock out your staff very quickly by spreading this. The other thing is the amount of time someone can be out and how aggressive it is if you are not vaccinated.”
Landa said one of his officers was out for three months.
“He got pneumonia and it does hit you a lot stronger and you are out a lot longer and I would be concerned about people being hospitalized and on a ventilator,” said Landa.READ MORE: COVID Booster Shot Confusion Ahead Of FDA Advisory Committee Meeting
As President of the Miami-Dade County Association of Chiefs of Police, Landa said, “We put out the science and we put out the information and we do that to all the police departments making sure that all Chiefs are getting information out to all of their personnel.”
Though he is chief of Police, Landa can not require his employees to get vaccinated. He can only suggest that they do. He said he has a mission and that is “Saving officers’ lives so they can do the functions of getting out every day and taking care of each other.”
He said his department also conducts Officer Wellness programs.
South Miami Police traffic unit officer, 32-year-old Darien Rodriguez said he contracted COVID at the beginning of March.
“I was out almost a month,” he said. “I started feeling bad so I got tested because I didn’t want to be at work and expose other people.”
He said he was not able to get vaccinated. He said, “The lines were so long and wasn’t able to do that at first and right after that when the vaccines were getting out that’s when I got it. I wanted to get the vaccine because I have a grandmother and you know they are at high risk and I was also dealing with the public and I didn’t want to expose anyone to this virus when I am talking to somebody.”
Rodriguez said, “At first I didn’t feel symptoms but then I felt like I had a cold, and then it was getting worse with shortness of breath and chest pains and heaving coughing. At first, I was scared because you never know about officers and people are dying from this.”
He said, “I believe people should get vaccinated. Of course, it is their choice but it helps everyone out, not only yourself but for others, you don’t want to give them the virus and so many people have passed away and the numbers are rising. You still have to take precautions after getting the vaccine but that little extra peace of mind makes it easier and a little less worrisome.”
D’Oench also obtained brand-new statistics showing how many county employees are not working because of COVID. Miami-Dade Police said 117 officers are out and Fire and Rescue said 99 people are off the job and the Department of Transportation and Public Works said 74 bus drivers are out.MORE NEWS: Rodney Rodriguez, Driver In High-Speed Crash That Killed 3, Finally Booked Into Jail
On Tuesday, A Miami Police spokeswoman said 72 employees of the department are out because of COVID.