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Sarasota County firefighter tests positive for COVID-19

Sarasota County

SARASOTA COUNTY, Fla. (WFLA) – A Sarasota County firefighter has tested positive for coronavirus.

During a press conference on Friday, Sarasota County Fire Chief Michael Regnier said the firefighter-paramedic, who is in his 30s, started to feel sick and developed a fever on March 22 after a 12-hour shift. He was cleared at the beginning of the day from a temperature check at the fire station.

“My heart goes out to him. I am very concerned and want to make sure that he is okay. He is part of our family,” Regnier said.

The firefighter does not live in Sarasota County but is currently at home in self-quarantine.

Regnier said the first responder came in contact with three other firefighters that day and was acting as a lieutenant on the fire engine, allowing him to have fewer opportunities to come in contact with potential patients.

Out of precaution, all three firefighters have been asked to self-quarantine at home despite not showing any symptoms of the virus in addition to 31 other firefighters who have been quarantined due to recent travel or possible exposure while on duty.

Prior to March 22, the firefighter was off for almost a month. Regnier said he had a family matter to take care of and was on vacation during that time.

The firefighter worked out of Fire Station 7, located at 17th Street, which has since been disinfected along with the ambulance and fire engines at the station. Other firefighters positioned there have been relocated to a nearby station.

As a way to prevent further spread of coronavirus, Sarasota County Fire Rescue has had every station deep cleaned once, if not twice, a day, all fire engines and ambulances cleaned, every firefighter checked for a fever at the beginning of their shift and all gear left and cleaned at the station.

Additionally, all firefighters are to follow the 6-foot rule when responding to a call. They will wear an N-95 mask, gloves, goggles and sometimes a Tvyex suit, and will ask patients a list of questions before giving them their own mask and performing their normal care.

Regnier said Sarasota County has close to 530 firefighters who respond to roughly 70,000 calls a year for service.

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