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Local first responders hit with COVID-19 as cases continue to climb

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TUCSON (KVOA) - With Arizona seeing a spike of COVID-19 cases, first-responders are typically at high-risk for contracting the virus.

14 firefighters for the Tucson Fire Department have tested positive. 13 of those positive tests have taken place since June 1.

None of those 14 firefighters have had to be hospitalized. As of Friday, 12 had returned to work.

Tucson Fire Chief Chuck Ryan says the department has mandated their crews wear masks while congregating in public areas within their station houses.

The positive tests represent just 2% of the department's 632 firefighters. That is remarkably low compared to what many large market departments are experiencing.

The Tucson Fire Department had just one COVID19 case up until June 1 but 13 firefighters have tested positive in the last six weeks

TFD has been tracking high-risk locations throughout the city where multiple COVID patients reside, creating information about "cluster" or "hot spot" facilities.

One protocol that has been changed in the field for Tucson Fire personnel is the number of people who enter a residence when responding to calls involving possible COVID19 patients.

Tucson EMS and the department's Medical Director have also established a telemedicine application.

It allows EMS personnel to communicate virtually with area hospitals to determine if a patient can remain at home or needs to be brought into the facility for treatment.

The recent surge of cases within the Tucson Fire Department has caused the department to incur some overtime but it has not led to any disruption in services for city residents.

Copyright 2020 News 4 Tucson. All rights reserved.

David Kelly

David Kelly is the weekend sports anchor at KVOA in Tucson. He is a 28-year veteran of the sports broadcast business.

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