St. Paul Police Chief Todd Axtell revealed Monday that he has recovered from COVID-19 after two weeks of self-isolation.

Axtell tested positive for the virus on Sept. 3, shortly after a close relative contracted it. He is among 17 officers and department employees who fell ill with the respiratory disease since the pandemic began. A police spokesman confirmed that the vast majority have returned to work.

The agency has taken a number of precautions to combat the virus, such as requiring officers to wear masks on calls, disinfecting squad cars and screening staff as they enter local precinct offices to make sure they don’t have a fever.

Axtell has appeared at several public events and award ceremonies while wearing a mask and social distancing.

“No matter what we do, the risk is always there,” said Axtell, who started working from home in late August. He tested positive for the infection on a morning when he awoke with a loss of taste and smell.

As the virus progressed, Axtell reported experiencing body aches and a cough — symptoms that didn’t require hospitalization. He returned to the office on Monday.

Across the river in Minneapolis, more than 40 police employees, including three deputy chiefs and a senior civilian staff member, have tested positive for COVID-19.

The infections forced Police Chief Medaria Arradondo to quarantine at home in July as a precaution and squeezed a department already faced with staffing shortages from a wave of departures following the death of George Floyd.

Liz Sawyer, Libor Jany