Following weeks of shortages and red tape, thousands of New York City firefighters with coronavirus symptoms as well as those on medical leave will be tested for the virus over the next week, The Post has learned. Previously "there was no bonafide way to get it done," a high-ranking FDNY source told The Post, adding that only 50 first responders were being tested on a daily basis. "What are you going to do with that? By the time you're on line, they're out of tests."
Beginning Monday, 2,000 firefighters are scheduled to be tested, the source said, citing an internal FDNY operations bulletin released to the 10,000-member force. "It falls short of all members being tested," he said, adding that most firefighters also want the CDC-mandated tests which consist of the original test showing a positive result, plus two additional tests to show negative results in a 24-hour period.
Hospitals run by Northwell Health will give first responders access to their urgent care and give them priority testing, a second FDNY source said. The source was concerned for the first responders who are asymptomatic and might be unwittingly infecting others if testing is not done quickly. They anticipate 500 tests a day. The internal FDNY announcement comes after Suffolk County recently tested 20,000 first responders for COVID-19 — a situation that outraged some in the FDNY.
"We are the greatest fire department in the country, possibly the world," the FDNY source said. "On September 11th firehouses felt like they were on their own. This parallels that. … We are a state-of-the-art fire department. Why are we not doing state-of-the-art testing?" Firefighters who show COVID-19 related symptoms with be contacted by the FDNY's Bureau of Health Services for free testing.
Three FDNY first responders and other employees have died from COVID-19. The latest victim was Kellie Childs, a 32-year veteran of the FDNY who worked in the Bureau of Revenue Management. The Bronx mother was 54. A spokesman said Friday 376 members of the FDNY, including firefighters, EMS and civilians, have tested positive for the virus.
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