Orlando Fire Department reports jump in coronavirus cases, 28 test positive for COVID-19

Jump of 21 cases since day previous for department

ORLANDO, Fla. – The Orlando Fire Department is reporting an increase Thursday in coronavirus cases among its staff.

As of Thursday, 28 members of the Orlando Fire Department have now tested positive for COVID-19, and 87 are in quarantine, according to a statement sent by department officials Thursday.

“The Health and Safety Division is making exposure notifications to all individuals and providing tests to all those who are symptomatic or had a direct exposure. These individuals will also be retested a week later. All others will self-monitor at this time,” a spokesperson for OFD said in a news release.

The news comes just a day after the department said seven firefighters had tested positive, with 64 in quarantine; that number jumped overnight as more test results came back positive. The new statistics include the original number of COVID-19 positive department members and those in isolation.

From the day previous, 21 more COVID-19 cases were confirmed within the department, as well as 23 more in a mandatory 14-day quarantine.

“The Orlando Fire Department continues to take the necessary precautions to reduce the spread of the virus, which includes wearing PPE on every emergency call and inside the fire stations, practicing physical distancing, performing wellness checks, and thoroughly cleaning all fire department facilities,” a spokesperson said. “We are coordinating efforts between all our stations to ensure we have response coverage throughout the city.”

On Wednesday, Orlando Fire Chief Benjamin Barksdale Jr. said he did not believe any of the firefighters who tested positive for COVID-19 had any impact on the public, saying, “They had come into work early before they went out on any calls.”

The chief also said 64 firefighters were in quarantine or in self-isolation due to possible exposure to the infected firefighters. Of those 64 firefighters, 32 were new hires who were only two weeks into their new job and six were instructors responsible for training those new employees.

The chief said the department has around 550 firefighters on staff.

On Thursday, the Florida Department of Health reported a jump of 316 confirmed cases of coronavirus in Orange County from Wednesday into Thursday. According to health officials, Orange County has seen a total of 3,900 COVID-19 cases since the virus was first detected in the state on March 1, as well as 48 deaths and 420 hospitalizations.

About the Author:

Erin began her career at News 6 as an assignment editor, then became a show producer. She is now a digital storyteller as part of the Click Orlando team.