Sources: 20 Philadelphia police officers, 14 firefighters test positive for COVID-19

PHILADELPHIA (WPVI) -- Action News has learned at least three dozen firefighters, police and EMTs here in the city have tested positive for COVID-19.

Dozens of more test results are pending but that number is expected to jump.

As police and fire do their best to sanitize equipment and protect themselves from the coronavirus, new light is being shed on the number of infections within the ranks.

This, despite city Managing Director, Brian Abernathy,saying this while keeping a lid on numbers:

"We want to make sure, one, that their privacy is protected, but also that we don't create a level of panic by saying 12 officers, or 50 officers, or 100 officers have tested positive," Abernathy said.

Law enforcement sources tell Action News, as of Tuesday morning, 20 Philadelphia police officers had tested positive at last check. Two were hospitalized, one in stable condition. Another is in critical condition but a source says his condition is improving.

Some officers, who didn't want to be identified, tell Action News the city is trying but there are concerns that some police districts and facilities are not being cleaned and sanitized enough to make officers comfortable.

Police Commissioner Danielle Outlaw would not provide specifics on safety measures at a press conference on Tuesday, but said there is a plan.

"We have several protocols in place, a tiered approach. One, keeping in mind we have to conserve the equipment we do in fact have, but we sent out very specific protocols depending on the type of call we are responding to," Outlaw said.

The fire and EMT union, Local 22, says there have been 14 confirmed cases within its membership as of Monday afternoon.

None had been hospitalized, but 80 were awaiting test results. Firehouses are tight quarters where there's a high risk of spread.

The department has hired the company ServPro to disinfect buildings where employees with confirmed cases have been. It's unclear if police and the city are doing the same.

"We are taking every step possible to keep our officers, our firefighters, our corrections officers, our EMTs safe to the best of our ability, given the circumstances," he said.

In New York, 800 police officers have tested positive, but its department dwarfs Philadelphia and its outbreak is further along.

Houston, which is comparable in size, has had 18 confirmed cases for fire and police at last check... half the number of Philadelphia.

The total number of cases of COVID-19 has risen to 1,315 in the City of Philadelphia as of Tuesday.

The city also reported five new deaths, bringing the city total to 14. Seven of the reported deaths were residents in nursing homes.

The city also reports at least 6,850 negative COVID-19 test results as of 9:30 a.m.
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