BOSTON (CBS) – As one officer put it, “it’s been a week from hell” for first responders. Numbers WBZ compiled found the rate of state and Boston law enforcement, corrections officers, firefighters, and EMS crews testing positive for COVID-19 has doubled in just days.
“You’re not losing one officer. You’ve got to do the tracing and go backwards and see who that officer had unprotected direct exposure with and sometimes that might be another fellow officer. Sometimes it could be ten officers,” said Chelsea Police Chief Brian Kyes, President of the Massachusetts Major City Chiefs of Police.
Coronavirus has hit Boston Police especially hard. The number of infected officers and employees more than tripled from 22 last week to 69 a week later. The number of Massachusetts State Police doubled from five to ten. At the Massachusetts Department of Corrections and its vendors, the number more than doubled to 41. Nine Boston EMS employees and 15 Boston firefighters have tested positive.
There is proposed legislation that would guarantee Massachusetts first responders get paid if they’re quarantined or sick, without giving up vacation time or sick days.
“These heroes should be protected,” said Massachusetts State Rep. James Arciero, who introduced the bill on the House side. He says coronavirus should be considered a line-of-duty injury.
“A nursing home in the town of Littleton had an outbreak that resulted in ten deaths, just horrifying, but the first responders made almost 22 visits to the nursing home to take care of sick people,” he said. “There are two dispatchers that are quarantined now.”
This week the Boston City Council voted to support the legislation.