COVID-19 And Public Safety News

Coronavirus Hits Hundreds Of U.S. Police Amid Protective Gear Shortages

New York (Reuters) – When nine police officers showed up to make an arrest near Melrose Avenue in the Bronx last Wednesday, none wore a mask or gloves to protect them from coronavirus.

Similar scenes play out all over the city daily: officers making arrests, walking their beats and responding to 911 calls without protective gear, according to interviews with nearly two dozen New York City officers and scenes witnessed by Reuters.

As of Sunday, 818 members of the nation’s biggest police force had tested positive for coronavirus, including 730 uniformed officers and 88 civilian staffers, according to NYPD. The department said about 5,000 of its 55,000 total employees are on sick leave.


NYSCOPBA President Tests Positive For COVID-19; Union Pleads For State To Keep Members Safe

Albany, NY — The New York State Correctional Officers & Police Benevolent Association (NYSCOPBA) today announced that Union President Michael B. Powers tested positive for COVID-19. Powers, who is regularly in contact with correction officers from every corner of the state, has been self-quarantining at his home for the last several days. The news reaffirms the Union’s position that the State, including the New York State Department of Corrections and Community Supervision (DOCCS) and the New York State Office of Mental Health (OMH), must take immediate action to further prevent the spread of the COVID-19 virus in our state correctional and mental health facilities.

NYSCOPBA is imploring the State to allow all employees working in correctional facilities, mental health facilities, parole offices and other agencies deemed essential, the ability to use the necessary personal protective equipment (PPEs) — specifically N95 masks, gloves and disposable smocks — to assist in preventing the spread. Currently in DOCCS, only those employees who work in isolated or quarantined units are provided PPEs. Continuing to prevent the staff from protecting themselves will not only jeopardize the staff, inmates and inmate-patients, but also raises the likelihood of the virus spreading beyond work sites.


Over 300 Of Houston’s First Responders Under Quarantine For Coronavirus

Over 300 Houston police officers and firefighters were under quarantine for exposure to the coronavirus as of March 29, according to a city report.

In addition to those, 11 police officers and seven firefighters have tested positive for COVID-19.

“At some point, if nothing changes, we’re not going to have enough people to call in on overtime,” Houston Fire Chief Peña said.

About half of the firefighters who need to quarantine were exposed to the virus by another firefighter, Peña said and many were asymptomatic when they exposed others. The numbers fluctuate daily as new first responders are exposed and some quarantine periods end. Soon, the department plans to require firefighters to take their temperatures before beginning a shift, he said.


CT First Responders Deployed In NY To Help Coronavirus Effort

American Medical Response ambulances and emergency personnel crews from Bridgeport and New Haven have headed to New York as part of a contract with the Federal Emergency Management Administration to respond to the public health emergency created by COVID-19.

There will be no impact to the services provided to local communities, said Tawnya Silloway, spokeswoman for Global Medical Response, the parent company of AMR.

“As the nation’s largest provider of ground medical transportation and FEMA’s prime emergency medical service response provider, AMR has a national agreement with FEMA to provide ground ambulance, air ambulance, paratransit services and non-ambulance EMS personnel to supplement the Federal and Military response to a disaster, an act of terrorism or any other public health emergency,” Silloway said.


First Responders Say They Were Left Out Of Late-Night Negotiations, Minnesota COVID-19 Response Bill

ST. PAUL — First responders on Thursday, March 26, took to the Capitol steps to voice their frustration with the Minnesota Legislature for skipping a proposal to cover the emergency workers under the state’s workers’ compensation program.

Firefighters, police officers, nurses, corrections workers and others working in public health said they would remain on the hook for the cost of their health care and sick leave if they contract COVID-19, the disease caused by the coronavirus, while on the front lines. And they turned their focus to Gov. Tim Walz, asking him to issue an executive order covering them under the workers’ compensation program.

State lawmakers were set to meet later Thursday to take up a large emergency response bill, which was expected to include as much as $356 million in additional supports for child care providers, small businesses, homeless shelters, food banks and needy families. But the emergency workers said their request had been knocked out in secret negotiations after four legislative leaders failed to agree it was needed.


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