Two EMS providers with the Baltimore City Fire Department and one Baltimore police officer in the Eastern District tested positive for COVID-19, city officials announced today.
“On behalf of the people of Baltimore, we are all extremely grateful for our first responders. They have a very difficult job that requires them to place their lives on the line in order to protect the public’s health,” Mayor Bernard C. “Jack” Young said outside City Hall. “We all owe them a debt of gratitude.”
In a statement, City Council President Brandon Scott said the positive cases underlined the need to stay home, self-quarantine if someone displays symptoms and practice social distancing when out in public.
“My prayers are with them and their families,” he said. “I’m forever grateful for the work they do and their willingness to risk their health in service of the people of Baltimore.”
Baltimore City Health Commissioner Dr. Letitia Dzirasa said her department first learned of the three positive tests today. She said the health department is investigating to find other personnel the three people may have been in contact with so they can quarantine “because they are on the frontline with ill residents.”
Prior to today’s announcement, firefighters and EMTs were required to wear personal protective equipment with goggles, masks and gloves when responding to calls with “patient contact,” Baltimore Fire Chief Niles R. Ford said.
Police Commissioner Michael Harrison said today the police officer who tested positive had self-quarantined for the last seven days after learning they were possibly exposed to the virus.
Harrison said he spoke today to the officer who is “in good spirits.”
Today’s announcement comes two days after Fox 45 reported a police officer in the Eastern District had tested positive. There were also rumors of a positive test floating around social media.
At a press conference yesterday, Harrison denied it, while adding that “given the nature of this virus, it’s possible this could change.”
The BPD received 3,000 N95 protective masks from the Baltimore Fire Department, and another 2,000 are being donated by big-box hardware store Home Depot, Harrison said on Wednesday.
Speaking today, he said the department disinfected the area where the officer worked and they are trying to disinfect all squad cars and district stations. Officers are also practicing social distancing, he said.
The BPD has also restricted public access to district stations.
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