GROVELAND, Fla. – COVID-19 has impacted many first responders in Central Florida, now agencies are encouraging vaccinations and the wearing of masks.
Fifteen Lake County first responders have contracted COVID-19 since January.
News 6 sat down with Groveland’s Fire Chief who said it’s been a strain.
Chief Kevin Carroll said his department has been asked to help surrounding agencies while people were getting a coronavirus test.
Carroll said the biggest strain for his department was in December.
“Right around Christmas time,” Carroll said, “We were able to manage it with mandatory overtime and unfortunately some folks had to work Christmas and Christmas Eve, but we were able to overcome it.”
With coronavirus the top of mind, it has lead to increased measures of sanitation in Groveland’s public safety complex.
Carroll said the city encourages all staff as well as first responders to wear a mask, vaccinated or not.
However, if an employee is not vaccinated, it is mandatory for them to wear a mask.
“Every day you’ll hear… without making it mandatory, without badgering people we’re trying to educate… the city has done a great job in trying to educate people on why they should get vaccinated. That’s an ongoing challenge to try and get people vaccinated, we do see with the younger population, that that’s a little more challenging,” Carroll said.
Lake County has proclaimed September as the month to honor those in law enforcement who have died in the line of duty.
Currently, there are no first responders in Lake County hospitalized, but in April of last year, Clermont Police lost Officer Conrad Buckley who died from COVID-complication after returning from Boston.
Chief Carroll said he encourages everyone to get tested and get vaccinated.
“Get educated about it and make that informed decision that’s best for you, but also think about the others you will be around,” Carroll said.