Portsmouth first responders quarantined after 'possible exposure' to coronavirus

Posted at 10:59 AM, Mar 26, 2020
and last updated 2020-03-27 13:01:13-04

PORTSMOUTH, Va. - Nine paramedics and firefighters in Portsmouth are off the streets after a possible exposure to the novel coronavirus.

According to the city, all individuals are currently in self-isolation at home after responding to an emergency call on Tuesday. The city said in a statement that all companies and apparatus are staffed and in service.

Following the incident, the Portsmouth Professional Fire Fighters & Paramedics Association took to Facebook, saying, "As of last night, we have had multiple members quarantined, due to a possible exposure to COVID-19. Our Department's staffing is already at a dangerous level. This is an all hands on deck situation, but we are unable to use these personnel for 14 days. We ask that you pray with us, for our members and our community, in these uncertain times."

The group has also started a GoFundMe in order to help the individuals and families who will be quarantined for the next two weeks.

On Thursday afternoon, union leaders had a conference call to discuss how they can best support their brothers and sisters going forward.

In York County, Fire Chief Steve Kopczynski says four firefighters have been quarantined due to exposure to a COVID-19 positive patient. All four firefighters are doing well and expected back this week.

In a statement to News 3, the county said, "There has been no indication from the Health Department that these firefighters need to be tested for the virus. The staffing on any given day varies due to various types of leave etc., however, this temporary quarantine has not had any significant impact on staffing or our services to the community.”

Julie Hill with the City of Virginia Beach also released a statement, saying that any firefighters or first responders potentially exposed to coronavirus will be removed from duty as recommended by the CDC.

"Ensuring the health and safety of all our employees, including our first responders in Fire, Police, EMS, is a top priority," Hill's statement read. "In addition to ensuring they have the necessary personal protective equipment, we will temporarily remove from duty any individuals as recommended by the CDC and Health Department guidelines and exposure assessment tools. So far, the number is low.

"We have been informed that some have been tested, no results are back yet. They will return to work as soon as they are medically cleared. Fortunately, we have not had staffing impacts because of this and it’s important to underscore that we have procedures in place to deal with this and other emergencies. The Virginia Beach Fire Department has 505 sworn members. "

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