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Sarasota County Fire Chief Mike Regnier speaking at a press conference about COVID-19 alongside Assistant Chief Carson Sanders
Sarasota Friday, Mar. 27, 2020 11 months ago

Sarasota firefighter tests positive for COVID-19

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County Fire Chief Mike Regnier discussed the department’s safety protocols at a press conference today.
by: David Conway Deputy Managing Editor

A Sarasota County Fire Department employee has tested positive for COVID-19 and three of his coworkers are self-quarantined, Fire Chief Mike Regnier said today.

Regnier held a news conference Friday afternoon shortly after the Florida Department of Health confirmed the firefighter tested positive. Regnier said the firefighter is in his 30s and lives outside of Sarasota County.

Regnier said the firefighter felt ill while working March 22 at Fire Station 7, located at 4754 17th St. The firefighter worked from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. that day but had not worked for nearly a month prior. Regnier said the fire station is closed for disinfection, and firefighters working out of that location have temporarily moved to a different facility.

Three people the firefighter worked with that day are in self-quarantine. Regnier said 31 fire department employees in total have gone into self-quarantine because of travel guidelines or potential contact with individuals who have the coronavirus disease. Regnier also said the department is investigating calls the firefighter responded to on March 22. Regnier said the man was working as a lieutenant on a fire engine, which limited his contact with patients that day.

Assistant Chief Carson Sanders said the department has taken a variety of steps to limit the chance of exposure among workers and the individuals who receive service. That includes screening workers for fevers, wearing personal protective equipment, disinfecting equipment, maintaining distance while responding to calls and more. The Longboat Key Fire Rescue Department has instituted similar procedures.

Regnier said the fire department has been preparing to deal with the effects of COVID-19 even prior to the positive test.

“We knew something that like this was going to happen in Sarasota County with our first responders, so we’ve placed a lot of contingencies into this,” Regnier said.

Click here for more of the the Observer’s COVID-19 coverage.

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