By Christina Hager

BOSTON (CBS) – After 15 years on the Boston Police force, it took a pandemic to knock down Officer Omar Borges. Now, he’s slowly getting back up again. “Obviously as a police officer you find yourself in…dangerous situations at times, but you know, ever being sick from contracting a virus? No I never thought of that,” he said.

Nine months after Borges became infected with COVID-19 he returned to Boston Police Headquarters for a visit Wednesday. He’s not back on the job yet, but Commissioner William Gross was glad to see him for a few minutes. “Thank you to the nurses at Beth Israel,” said Gross, bumping elbows with Borges.

Officer Omar Borges (WBZ-TV)

The 47-year-old looked different than he did the last time he made a public appearance, leaving Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center back in April. He had spent a full month there, suffering, and then recovering from COVID-19. “Other than the birth of my children, it was probably the greatest feeling I’ve ever had, being wheeled out of the hospital and seeing my family there for the first time in 30 days,” he said. “To actually physically touch and hold them is something that I’ll never forget, and my children actually still talk about it to this day.”

The pandemic has hit the Boston Police Department hard and 193 officers have tested positive. While Borges doesn’t think first responders should be required to get vaccinated, he’s glad they’re at the front of the line if they want it. “At the end of the day, everyone can be quarantined and everyone can stay at home and work from home,” Borges said. “Unfortunately, first responders can’t.”

Borges’ fellow Officer Jose Fontanez couldn’t stay home. “I think about it all the time. Officer Fontanez and I were at the hospital at the same time. We were admitted to the ICU at the same time,” he said. But Fontanez lost his battle with COVID-19. “We pray for officer Fontanez’s family,” he said. “We’re always going to keep them in our prayers.”

Christina Hager