PITTSBURGH (KDKA) — About 100 Pittsburgh police officers are in quarantine as Public Safety tries to stop the spread of coronavirus through the ranks.
Pittsburgh Public Safety says the infections in police, fire and EMS are relatively low compared to like-sized cities, but officials are taking steps to make sure it does not get out of hand.
Protecting the public while trying to protect themselves. That is the challenge facing police, fire and EMS — frontlines workers who run a greater risk of infection in close contact with the public while working together in tight quarters.
“You can’t have a small room with four to eight people in there for 12, 24, 36, 48 hours at a time and not have any air movement,” said Ralph Sicuro, fire union president.
One fire station house, in particular, has been the site of a coronavirus outbreak, with one member currently in the hospital making what Sicuro calls a slow but steady recovery. Meanwhile, Sicuro says emergency response times have not been hindered.
“That station was completely decontaminated. The members of that station are off and will stay off until their 14 days quarantines are done. And the public should be aware we are operating in a very safe fashion,” the union president said.
According to Pittsburgh Public Safety, nine Firefighters, nine police officers and three EMS members tested positive for coronavirus. In the case of the Pittsburgh Bureau of Police, about 100 officers are being quarantined.
Sources told KDKA’s Andy Sheehan that officers at two police zone stations and one detective unit at police headquarters make up the lion’s share of those sidelined.
“The hope right now is you’re being quarantined for precautionary purposes,” said Pittsburgh Councilman Corey O’Connor.
O’Connor, the chair of the Public Safety Committee, says all of the bureaus are looking to isolate and contain these small outbreaks to prevent future spread without a disruption in services.
“We want to get that out to the people of Pittsburgh that if they call for an emergency, there will be people who will show up,” he said.