AUSTIN (KXAN) — Austin Fire Department officials are considering possible changes to COVID-19 testing policies amid a surge in COVID cases among staff and personnel.
AFD recorded 493 positive cases among staff and personnel during Quarter 2 of the fiscal year 2021-22, running from January to March. Currently, AFD Chief of Staff Rob Vires said there are 25 AFD personnel out with the virus.
“Right now, we’re experiencing another COVID spike with the folks…myself included,” he said. “[We’re] trying to keep them safe and healthy, but at the same time, as we live our lives, the exposures do create a situation where you could end up with COVID.”
More than 2,200 vaccinations were administered to fire department members through the city’s wellness center initiatives. More than 800 sworn personnel have received at least one dose, along with 65 civilian staff members and nearly 50 sworn retirees.
This doesn’t represent the total COVID vaccination levels among AFD staff, but the number of people vaccinated through the city’s wellness center, Vires added.
AFD previously had a mandatory daily testing policy in place, where staff would test at the start of each shift and, if positive, were sent home. Now, staff who are symptomatic or have been exposed or encouraged to test, with kits available at stations.
Given the latest wave running through staff, Vires said AFD might need to reevaluate that policy.
“With the current uptick of things, that might be something that we’re going to reevaluate and what sort of adjustment we need to make on that,” he said.