By Joe Holden

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — Philadelphia leaders have doubled down on their position of shielding the number of fire and police personnel who are quarantined. The same goes for the number who have tested positive for the coronavirus.

Other cities have been more transparent. Updates on absentee rates at the NYPD are provided regularly to reporters.

Coronavirus Latest: What You Need To Know And Staying Connected

Philadelphia Managing Director Brian Abernathy defended the decision to withhold the numbers.

“We are comfortable with our officer level at this point. I feel like our core services and our calls are being met,” Abernathy said.

Police department sources tell Eyewitness News that more than 200 police personnel are quarantined, with upwards of 50 testing positive.

A department spokesperson said neither the city nor police department would provide that information. The spokesperson didn’t dispute the numbers.

Meanwhile, the city is mourning the loss of Lt. James Walker, who worked in the department’s traffic unit. The veteran member of the force for 33 years died Sunday from COVID-19 complications.


He is survived by his wife, a daughter and grandchildren.

“The loss of his life illustrates the commitment that he and members of the Philadelphia Police Department have to serve the communities of this city, even in times of unprecedented risk and challenge. Lt. Walker devoted nearly 33 years to serving the communities in Philadelphia. I appreciate his and other members’ commitment. With a COVID-19 surge anticipated in our area, PPD members are expected to follow protocols put in place to reduce the risk of exposure to themselves and others,” Philadelphia Police Commissioner Danielle Outlaw said in a statement.

Sources tell Eyewitness News that members of the traffic unit have been hit particularly hard, with more than a dozen who have been quarantined. Sources say that some of them have tested positive.