COVID-19 And Public Safety

Police Get Creative To Stay Safe And Keep Order As Coronavirus Spreads

Late last month, as officials in Cambridge, Massachusetts, scrambled to defend the city against the coronavirus, Patrol Officer Bob Reardon got an assignment that signaled how suddenly his job had changed.

Someone complained about a football game.

There was no violence, no loud noise, no threats — just a group of men playing pickup in violation of a recently enacted prohibition against large gatherings.

Reardon pulled up in his cruiser and without getting too close told the men to scatter. They were respectful, and left without a fuss, he said. But the confrontation left an impression on the 30-year-old officer.


For Paramedics, COVID-19 Outbreak ‘10 Times Worse Than 9/11’

Members of the EMS FDNY Help Fund are requesting donations to support their members as the number of emergency calls in the city eclipse those during 9/11.

“This is like 9/11 happening every single day, with a bit of Hurricane Sandy thrown in,” said Lt. Vinny Variale, a 25-year FDNY EMS veteran who is president of the Uniformed EMS Officers Union.

For the city’s EMS personnel, who are receiving about 7,000 calls each day, compared to about 4,500 after 9/11, the situation is growing dire as protective equipment like masks and gloves are rationed and exhausted paramedics work 16-hour days regularly.


Coronavirus: NY Correctional Officers Can Wear Masks; 120 Tested Positive: Union

Correctional officers serving in prisons across the state can now wear protection against coronavirus.

The state Department of Corrections and Community Supervision is allowing officers to wear N95 respirators or surgical masks inside correctional facilities.

The decision reverses the stance the state had taken for weeks in which officers were allowed to wear masks only “when appropriate to the medical situation,” and comes at the urging of the New York State Correctional Officers and Police Benevolent Association.

There were 120 correctional officers who had tested positive across the state, and 700 in quarantine, as of Thursday, according to James Miller, spokesperson for the union. On Monday, the union announced its president, Michael B. Powers, had tested positive, along with roughly 56% of all correctional officers and sergeants in New York.


Massachusetts Firefighters Ask For Help As Coronavirus ‘Spike’ Looms

The state firefighter union president is sounding the alarm over a potential “very large spike” in firefighters sidelined by coronavirus over the next few weeks, calling for legislative help as protective equipment runs thin.

“Over the next few weeks we’re predicting a large number of firefighters and other public safety personnel being either quarantined or sick,” said Richard MacKinnon Jr., president of the Professional Fire Fighters of Massachusetts union. “We could see a very large spike in first responders, firefighters effected.”

MacKinnon called for the state to pass bills that would make it so that emergency responders who contract contagious diseases be presumed to have done so in the line of duty unless proven otherwise — and therefore be in line for benefits as though injured on the job. One bill that would do that generally is in the Committee on Public Safety, and another specifically about COVID-19 is in Ways & Means, both pending on Beacon Hill as the state prepares for its peak in cases to come in the next few weeks.


Local Firefighters Issue Concerns Over FFCRA

There have been issues raised with the recently passed bill — Family First Coronavirus Response Act (FFCRA — H.R. 6201) — which includes a section excluding “emergency responders.”

Randy Ruble, union president of Tiffin Firefighters Local 322, said as a union, they are frustrated as they are on the front lines, battling this fight everyday, coming in contact with individuals who may show signs of symptoms of the COVID-19 coronavirus.

The FFCR, which went into effect Wednesday, includes amendments expanding the reasons for the use of Family Medical Leave. Under section 3105 of the act, “employers are permitted to exclude emergency responders from the application of the provisions of the FFCRA.”


Officers May Be Reassigned To Patrol Amid COVID-19 Pandemic

Clark County Sheriff Joe Lombardo will pull officers from sections across the Metropolitan Police Department to supplement the patrol division in the event that patrol officers test positive for COVID-19.

“This action has been made, as added care, in case there is a need to supplement uniform patrol in the event that field operations are significantly impacted by COVID 19 in the upcoming weeks,” according to a statement released Thursday by Metro.

The sheriff’s plan was briefly outlined in a letter sent Tuesday to members of Metro’s union, the Las Vegas Police Protective Association. As of this week, about 3,100 Metro employees are union members, according to Steve Grammas, president of the association.


CLAIM DENIED: Quarantined HFD Firefighter Denied Workers’ Comp

HOUSTON – Friday, The Houston Professional Fire Fighters Association raised concerns about firefighters — who were ordered to quarantine after on-the-job COVID-19 exposure — being denied workers’ compensation claims.

There are approximately 140 quarantined firefighters who believe they were exposed but may have not tested for the virus.

Union President, Patrick “Marty” Lancton forwarded a portion of a redacted denial letter. A company called Tristar manages the city employees’ workers’ compensation claims.


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