St. Paul police chief details COVID-19 battle

coronavirus masks
Photo credit Getty/ Maridav

St. Paul police chief Todd Axtell says he has recovered from COVID-19.

Axtell returned to work on Monday but was in self-isolation for two weeks because a household family member had been exposed to COVID-19.

That family member later tested positive.

"A few days later I woke up in the morning and couldn't smell or taste," Axtell told WCCO's Cory Hepola, who was filling in for Dave Lee, on Tuesday morning. "I went in and receive a positive test that day."

Other than the loss of smell and taste, Axtell said he experienced relatively mild symptoms, including body aches, coughing, and flu-like symptoms during his illness.

"As luck has it, I came down with a bought of vertigo, which was terrible and took me out of commission for a couple of days," said Axtell.

Keeping Saint Paul Police officers safe during COVID-19 has been a priority for the city and Chief Axtell. The city provides masks that officers are required to wear, and officers undergo a screening prior to every shift.

So far, Axtell says roughly 20 officers, including himself, have tested positive for COVID-19.

"It's a very challenging time right now in St. Paul as we have the highest levels of 911 calls and highest levels of regular police calls," Axtell said. "Our police officers are tired. They are out there every day providing trusted service with respect and I'm so proud of the work they do. It's a challenging time with historic crime rate and we're just trying to the best we can with trying to keep up with all of that."