COVID-19 And Public Safety News

Coronavirus Impact: As More Massachusetts First Responders Test Positive For COVID-19, Police And Fire Departments Lean On Each Other To Maintain Services

Police and firefighters in Massachusetts have started to test positive for coronavirus, prompting the question of what happens if one department has several members sick, or in quarantine?

While some of the larger departments in the state — Boston, Springfield and Worcester for example — can absorb having personnel out of duty due to quarantine or positive results of COVID-19, smaller departments may struggle.

Those struggles may come with a price. Coronavirus could be potentially expensive for taxpayers if there is a significant increase in overtime hours to cover shifts.

For fire departments and police departments across the state, the plan is to rely on mutual aid agreements, along with backup from the Massachusetts State Police and the Massachusetts Department of Fire Services if too many members are out due to COVID-19.

Read more at www.masslive.com

Eight Long Beach Firefighters Test Positive For COVID-19

Eight firefighters in Long Beach have tested positive for the novel coronavirus, officials announced Wednesday, March 25.

In all, Long Beach announced 13 new positive diagnoses Wednesday, upping the citywide total to 41 confirmed cases of the novel coronavirus, officially known as COVID-19. Four of the firefighters are Long Beach residents and were included in Wednesday’s updated total, while the others live elsewhere.

Mayor Robert Garcia said during a press briefing Wednesday afternoon that more firefighters were being tested, and the number of those with confirmed cases of COVID-19 could grow.

Read more at www.gazettes.com

Mansfield Fire Chief Orders Staff To Limit Side Jobs During Pandemic

MANSFIELD – Mansfield Fire Chief Steve Strickling has issued a directive to his employees to limit their exposure working at other jobs, including township fire departments and hospitals, for the time being due to COVID-19 concerns.

Strickling said he does not know the exact number of his employees who work elsewhere too but said “there are quite a few.”

He asked his employees, firefighters, EMTs and paramedics to devote their interest to their primary job for now.

The directive raised concerns for firefighters union, said Scott Miller, president of the International Association of Firefighters Local 266.

Read more at www.mansfieldnewsjournal.com

9 Newark Cops, Firefighters Test Positive For Coronavirus

Three Newark police officers and six firefighters have tested positive for the coronavirus that causes COVID-19, city officials announced Tuesday.

A temporary COVID-19 unit composed of police and firefighters who are nurses and EMTs is being created to monitor the city’s first responders. The unit will respond randomly or by request to monitor the temperature of on-duty personnel, while any staff member with a fever will be sent home, city officials said.

Read more at www.nj.com

Beck Orders New Virus Protections For Chicago Police Officers

Interim Chicago Police Superintendent Charlie Beck on Wednesday made a series of changes to prevent even more officers from contracting the coronavirus, but the steps he took were nowhere near enough to satisfy the police union.

From now on, roll calls will be held in groups of “below 10” and in “areas that create a great opportunity for social distancing,” instead of in cramped roll-call rooms at police stations, Beck said.

“With the mayor’s help, we’ve put up stanchions in our lobbies to keep the public six feet back to provide social distancing for both the protection of the public and protection of the officers working the desk,” Beck said.

Read more at www.chicago.suntimes.com

Agencies Adapt To Keep First Responders Healthy Amid Coronavirus Outbreak

It’s become a common cautionary tale among first responders.

With no goggles, masks or gowns, firefighters in the Seattle suburb of Kirkland, Washington, unknowingly raced again and again into a nursing home that would soon be recognized as one of America’s earliest coronavirus epicenters. It was only later that all the reports of pneumonia and breathing struggles were understood as symptoms of the highly infectious disease — at which point, more than 27 first responders had potentially been exposed.

A month later, COVID-19 has shifted to the front of mind for first responders, but similar stories continue to crop up nationwide. Last week, in Washington, D.C., officials announced three firefighters had tested positive for the virus. In San Jose, California, that number climbed to 13 as of Friday.

Read more at www.opb.org