Facing protective equipment shortages, first responders worry about COVID-19 infection

Coronavirus

NORRIDGE, Ill. — Hundreds of first responders showed up to a coronavirus testing site in northwest suburbs Monday, but demand was so high that many were turned away.

At least seven first responders have tested positive for COVID-19 in Chicago alone, including four CPD officers, two CFD paramedics and a corrections officer with the Cook County Sheriff.

The departments all said they dispatched crews to clean work areas and are looking into who the infected individuals had contact with.

But with more than 1,000 cases of COVID-19 confirmed in Illinois, there are still major concerns that first responders don’t have the supplies they need to stay safe on the front lines.

At the Norridge testing site, cars started lining up before 9 a.m. and the line extended for blocks by the afternoon. The site was supposed to stay open until 5 p.m., but with only 250 kits available, they reached their max by 12:30pm.

“I’ve seen a lot in my life especially being a first responder but I’ve never seen anything like this,” said Ald. Nicholas Sposato (38th Ward). 

Watch Above: Illinois Governor JB Pritzker, health leaders give their daily update about the novel coronavirus in the state

Governor Pritzker said more medical supplies are on the way.

In the meantime, Chicago’s Fraternal Order of Police tried to make up for some of the shortfalls last week by providing 100 gallons of hand sanitizer and 2,000 masks for the city’s 22nd Police District. But FOP President Kevin Graham says it’s far from enough.

“We have more than that on each of the watches. The responsibility of this is on the City of Chicago and the Chicago Police Department,” Graham said.

City officials say these are unprecedented times, but they’re working on finding first responders everything they need to do their jobs safely.

The Norridge testing facility will be open again at 9 am Tuesday, but will remain first-come-first-serve, with only 250 tests available each day.

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