BUTLER, Pa. (KDKA) – We continue our “Cops and COVID” series with Pennsylvania State Police Trooper Jim Long. He works out of the Butler barracks.
“Most of January was boring for us,” said Long.READ MORE: WalletHub: Pennsylvania Among Least Safe States During Pandemic
Boring, but also a month filled with sickness for Long and his family. He and his family all got COVID-19 as it spread through their household.
“My wife got it. Both my kids were presumed positive so it kind of shut down our family. Unfortunately, it shut down some sports too that I was involved with,” said Long.
Long says he was down for the count for about three days. However, he was off work for several weeks. He said he felt awful and he knew something was off when he couldn’t taste or smell.
“The stomach pain was the worst symptom that I had. I had no respiratory issues. I had no fever,” said Long.
Ironically, Trooper Long got his first COVID shot the day before he got sick.
“Unfortunately, it wasn’t soon enough in my case,” said Long.
Long developed a slight cough the day after his first dose of the Pfizer vaccine, then found out he had COVID.READ MORE: Heinz Field COVID-19 Vaccination Clinic Adding More Appointments
First responders are part of Pennsylvania’s Phase 1B vaccine rollout which hasn’t happened yet. However, Trooper Long says he considers himself one of the lucky ones who already got the shot at Butler Memorial Hospital.
A spokesperson with Butler Health System said it considered law enforcement part of the state’s original 1A distribution plan prior to the new rollout recently announced.
“I was lucky I was contacted by a local health care provider and they said, ‘hey, we have extra vaccines if you’re interested and went through all the people on the list and have extra ones,’ so I took the opportunity to get it,” said Long.
Long has now had his second dose and he says he hasn’t had any side effects other than some soreness in his arm. One thing he wants others to learn from his experience: “No matter what the precautions are and no matter how safe you’re being, if there’s any symptom whatsoever, even a slight cough like I had that went away in 24 hours, take it seriously.”
For his brothers and sisters in blue, he says that’s especially important.
“The idea of being a public servant is you have to be available. So if I’m unavailable because I’m sick, I’m not helping anybody,” said Long.
Trooper Long is now back on the job helping others and hopeful he gets his sense of taste and smell back soon.MORE NEWS: Pennsylvania Department Of Health Says Flu Activity Across State Remains Low
A spokesperson with the state police says COVID-19 has minimally impacted its troopers so far. The state police plan to offer shots to everyone once the state enters its next phase.