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Akron, Ohio

The City of Akron taking aggressive steps to protect city employees and the public from COVID-19 spread

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City confirms first two positive COVID-19 test results for first responders

City of Akron Press Release
From the desk of Ellen Lander Nischt
Published: 03-27-2020

Akron, Ohio, March 27, 2020 – As our city, state, nation, and world continue to combat the coronavirus/COVID-19 pandemic, Mayor Horrigan and his public safety leadership team have been proactively planning for how to minimize the impact of this virus on City staff, particularly first responders.  Today, Mayor Horrigan confirmed that the first city employees have tested positive for the coronavirus disease, COVID-19. These two full-time employees are firefighter/medics with the Akron Fire Department who work out of the same fire station.

“While we do not know how these firefighters contracted the virus, we know that our first responders are at an increased risk for exposure. These men and women put their lives on the line every day for this community and their commitment to selfless public service has only been strengthened during this crisis,” said Akron Mayor Dan Horrigan. “I am incredibly proud of the preparedness and response of Fire Chief Clarence Tucker and Police Chief Ken Ball and their teams. These positive test results are not unexpected, and we are executing a well-developed protocol to reduce the impact of this virus on our first responders and the citizens we serve. I wish the affected employees a full and quick recovery.” 

Here are a few steps the City is taking to ensure the best possible outcomes for our staff and the public, as we work on safely responding to the COVID-19 surge:

  • Having any symptomatic City first responders tested for COVID-19 before returning to work;
  • Fully cooperating with Summit County Public Health as they perform contact tracing and notify individuals, including City employees, who have been in direct contact with those testing positive;
  • Using FDA-approved disinfectants, in accordance with public health guidance, to regularly and thoroughly clean workspaces, fire stations, and City buildings; 
  • Establishing optional temporary “quarantine” housing for first responders who have tested positive or are symptomatic;
  • Implementing mandatory personal temperature checks for all employees reporting to work;
  • Providing personal protective equipment and protocols for first responders, to protect them from exposure during medical care or interactions with symptomatic citizens, (including N95 masks for all frontline fire and police personnel);
  • Posting signage and education about constant handwashing, sanitizing, cleaning protocols, and public health guidance;
  • Ensuring all non-essential employees and those essential employees who are able to work from home no longer report to City buildings and enforcing social distancing wherever possible;
  • Limiting public access to City buildings and temporarily closing community centers, playgrounds, etc.

Fire Department personnel have thoroughly disinfected all surfaces in the station where the two employees testing positive were stationed. The employees who tested positive are self-quarantining at this time and managing their symptoms.  Residents and other individuals who had contact with the employees are being contacted by staff at Summit County Public Health, and provided advice for how to self-quarantine and take precautions to prevent spread.  

“It is critical that our residents continue to use 9-1-1 as they normally would for medical emergencies,” Chief Tucker said.  “Our staff is well-trained to continue to provide emergency care and protection during challenging times.  We will be wearing protective gear, as needed, to protect ourselves and the public during calls.”  Residents who have questions about COVID-19 or mild/moderate symptoms are encouraged to contact their primary health provider or the Ohio Health Department’s coronavirus hotline at 1-833-4-ASK-ODH (1-833-427-5634).

“As a reminder, the most important thing that any of us can do to avoid spreading the virus is to follow the Ohio’s Stay at Home Order and limit any travel outside our homes to what is absolutely essential,” Mayor Horrigan continued.  “Everyone should be maintaining a physical distance of at least 6 feet from others, and thoroughly washing their hands for at least 20 seconds at a time before making any contact with their mouth, eyes, or nose.” 

The City will not be providing additional details about these cases for medical privacy, and does not have plans to release details of every future confirmed COVID-19 case among City workers. These first cases were confirmed to provide relevant information about the City’s comprehensive preparations and response.

For the most up-to-date information on the City of Akron’s proactive response to this virus, please visit www.akronohio.gov/COVID19. For information from Summit County Public Health, visit www.scph.org/covid-19 or call their hotline at (330) 926-5795.  For information regarding the State’s continuing efforts, please visit www.coronavirus.ohio.gov or call 1-833-427-5634.

For further information, contact:
Ellen Lander Nischt
Press Secretary
Phone: 330-375-2325
E-mail: [email protected]

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