Williamson County places 25 medics on leave after positive COVID-19 tests

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(Credit: Williamson County Government)

GEORGETOWN, Texas (KXAN) – Williamson County is down at least 25 paramedics after five tested positive for COVID-19. The county confirmed the status of those late Friday.

The 25 medics are all on paid leave while the county works to identify others who might have come into contact with the infected workers.

The county’s press release only identified five employees, but in a follow up conversation, the county confirmed a total of 25 paramedics are out on leave as of this report.

“While we have employees out due to illness or self-isolation, the WCEMS system retains the ability to respond to all calls and ensures continuous service to the community with existing resources,” said Williamson County EMS Director Mike Knipstein in a press release issued by the county after KXAN questioned the county Friday afternoon.

KXAN’s investigative unit received a tip about the COVID-19 cases Friday.

KXAN contacted Williamson County EMS Director Mike Knipstein by phone, but he would not confirm any information. The director referred investigators to the county’s public information officer for confirmation and offered no comment on the situation.

“We have strict protocols in place for our paramedics when responding to someone with flu-like symptoms or a potential infectious disease,” Knipstein is quoted in the press release. “We have been working over the past sixty-plus days to ensure our first responders are properly protected and equipped while performing their jobs. The health and safety of our employees is our highest priority.”

Williamson County has 18 stations across the county and each station holds at least one ambulance, according to the county’s website. A total of 36 paramedics man those 18 ambulances. There are currently 125 paramedic positions.

The county has now lost 20% of its entire paramedic fleet. Williamson County has 125 paramedics total.

The latest budget report published by the county shows 136 total positions listed as part of the county’s EMS division. The 25 paramedics make up 18% of the entire EMS workforce.

The county’s press release did not indicate how the medics contracted COVID-19. As of Monday, Williamson County had the second-most confirmed cases in Central Texas with 328 and 10 deaths. A total of 191 people have recovered in Williamson County, which has 127 active cases.

Travis County’s latest numbers show 2,462 total cases, 67 deaths, 886 recoveries and 1,509 active cases.

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