The coronavirus is having an impact on first responders in North Texas.
Plano, Dallas and Fort Worth have all announced recent cases of COVID-19. Dallas Fire-Rescue said its firefighters have also been exposed.
Three Dallas firefighters recently tested positive for COVID-19.
Jim McDade, the president of the Dallas Fire-Rescue Association, said he has talked to the sick firefighters and all are doing well. But because of close contact, 28 other firefighters are now in quarantine.
RELATED: Coronavirus coverage
“Right now the number, we have about 28 people who are quarantined. We’ve had a total of 47. We had a few people whose test results came back negative so that’s released a few people from quarantine. Because if one person on a crew gets sick, the entire crew will get quarantine,” McDade said. “We are not cutting our manpower. We are not cutting our response. Dallas firefighters will be there for the citizens through this whole thing.”
McDade believes the three firefighters contracted the virus while at work. As a precaution, all first responders in Dallas are now being asked to wear masks while interacting with people in the public.
A third Dallas police officer tested positive for COVID-19 on Monday. The officer started feeling sick almost two weeks ago and hasn't been to work since then. He has been resting at home.
The Dallas Police Department said it has sanitized the area where the officer works, which is a training center for other officers. No one else who works there is showing symptoms of the virus.
DPD received a donation of much-needed supplies over the weekend. Operation Blessing donated more than 80 buckets filled with masks, bleach spray, gloves and other items to DPD. The non-profit organization said it is reaching out to first responders to make sure they have what they need to stay safe.
In Fort Worth, police are notifying anyone who came in contact with two officers who tested positive for the coronavirus.
The two officers worked in the same unit and did not have much contact with others at work. They are now self-isolating at home and are said to be “in good spirits.”
Other officers in Fort Worth are now required to wear N95 masks and protective gloves while interacting with the public.
Fort Worth Police Officers Association President Manny Ramirez says every officer when responding to calls must now wear a mask and gloves when they are within six feet of citizens. He says the new rule is for the safety of officers as well as those in the community they encounter.
“We are fairly confident we’ve been able to contact everybody who was in contact with these officers, and we’re hoping that all those results are negative too,” he said. “Now, there are guidelines in place where our officers have to wear the N95 mask and gloves whenever they are in contact within that six-foot range of a citizen. It’s definitely an adjustment. It’s something we don’t like to do, but we recognize its necessary. It’s necessary to keep our officers safe and more importantly to keep our community safe.”
Ramirez says both officers are in good spirits and managing their symptoms while self-isolating at home. Without saying how many, Ramirez says there are a number of other officers who are self-isolated who may have come in contact with someone positive. He says that has been the case for some time now.
The Plano Police Department said two more of its officers tested positive for the virus. The department now has a total of four cases.
The first Plano officer contracted the virus while on a work trip out of state. That officer then spread it to the other three people.
Coronavirus health tips
While COVID-19 is a new respiratory virus, daily precautions recommended to prevent respiratory illnesses are the same:
• Wash hands frequently with soap and water for at least 20 seconds. Use hand sanitizer when you can't wash your hands.
• Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth.
• Cover your coughs and sneezes with a tissue and throw the tissue away. If you don’t have a tissue, use the elbow of your sleeve. Don’t use your hands to cover coughs and sneezes.
• Avoid close contact with people who are sick.
• Stay home when you are sick and keep children home when they are sick.
• Clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces.
• Get a flu shot. (Although the flu shot does not protect against COVID-19, it is flu season.)