ST. JOSEPH — A St. Joseph police officer has tested positive for COVID-19, Public Safety Director Steve Neubecker confirmed on Friday.

He said the officer was being quarantined for a possible exposure, which turned out to be negative, when he was then exposed to the virus by a family member. A second test came back positive.

Neubecker said the officer was cleared Thursday by the Berrien County Health Department to return to work, but he’s having the officer stay home for another week just to be on the safe side.

The officer’s name was not released.

Communications Manager Gillian Conrad with the Berrien County Health Department said this is the only officer in the county who has tested positive for the virus. But she added that anyone could potentially be infected, since about 25 percent of people with the virus have no symptoms.

Neubecker said his officers are handling as many calls as possible over the phone to reduce their possible exposure to the virus. He said officers wear face masks, gloves and shields when they are out in the public to help stop the possible spread.

He estimated that crime has dropped 30 percent since Gov. Gretchen Whitmer ordered that all people stay home, except for essential services, on March 24.

Beach concerns

Neubecker said he’s worried about people wanting to congregate on the beaches this weekend since temperatures are anticipated to be on the warm side.

“Stay away from the beaches,” he said. “We don’t want tons of people at the beaches.”

He said people walking along the beach staying at least 6 feet away from other people is allowed.

In addition, he said people will not be allowed to have garage sales until the crisis is over.

“Our city isn’t going to issue any garage sale permits so in the city, they won’t be able to do it,” he said.

Anyone holding a garage sale without a permit will be shut down, he said.

“It falls under the non-essential business category,” he said.

Contact: lwrege@TheHP.com, 932-0361, Twitter: @HPWrege