Houston police, fire departments see tighter staffs as coronavirus cases among first responders rise, HFD chief says


HOUSTON – As the Houston area grapples with growing coronavirus cases and more urgency from local officials pleading with residents to take it seriously, a public safety issue may also be arising.

The city’s police and fire departments are seeing tighter staffs as more first responders test positive or are under quarantine.

HFD Chief Sam Peña announced Monday at Mayor Sylvester Turner’s press conference that there were 146 Houston police officers who have tested positive for the virus and 52 who have since returned to work after making a full recovery. At present, he said there are also 103 officers who are under quarantine for possible exposure.

Meanwhile, HFD saw a 140% increase in COVID-19 cases among firefighters and 88 are under quarantine, Peña said. Two firefighters are currently in the ICU with coronavirus-related complications, he said.

Even the number of emergency calls related to coronavirus that Houston officials are receiving has grown, Peña said. Just in the last week, calls for an ambulance have increased 20%, he said.

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