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Cleveland EMS worker tests positive for COVID-19 coronavirus, memo says

The Plain Dealer  Cleveland logo The Plain Dealer Cleveland 3/26/2020 By Adam Ferrise, cleveland.com
a person in a blue shirt: A Cleveland EMS worker tested positive for coronavirus. © cleveland.com file photo/cleveland.com/TNS A Cleveland EMS worker tested positive for coronavirus.

CLEVELAND, Ohio — A Cleveland EMS employee on Thursday tested positive for COVID-19 coronavirus, according to a memo from the EMS union.

It’s believed to be the first positive case of coronavirus for a frontline EMS employee in the city. Cleveland EMS spokesman Commander Chris Chapin did not return a message seeking comment.

The memo from the executive board of the Cleveland Association of Rescue Employees Local 175 does not identify the worker or their condition.

Union leadership is notifying other employees that might have worked with, or come into contact with, the employee, the memo says. City officials will decide if some need to be tested for the virus based on their symptoms and contact with the infected employee.

Ohio officials on Thursday said 867 people have tested positive for the virus and 15 have died from it. That number is expected to exponentially increase over time.

Cleveland EMS officials on Wednesday set new guidance for employees on how to handle their job and what to do once an employee tests positive.

EMS workers are self-monitoring for symptoms, including regularly taking their own temperatures. Any employee with a temperature of more than 100.4 degrees, or showing any other symptoms of the virus is supposed to stay home.

They also must report their temperature one hour before their shift starts.

Employees who test positive are expected to take FMLA leave and cannot return to work until they’ve been symptom-free for at least three days and at least a week from the onset of symptoms, the policy says.

An employees work partner can still work, but must self-monitor their temperature at least twice per day and wear a mask during their shift for two weeks.

“COVID-19 has presented CEMS with unprecedented challenges for our daily operations as a Division and has raised questions that the Union has never thought of before,” the memo says. “This is an important time for us all to not only trust each other to do the right thing but also speak up when we have a thought or policy change for consideration.

Read more from cleveland.com:

Ohio coronavirus deaths climb to 15, with 867 total infections: Gov. Mike DeWine’s Thursday, March 26 briefing

16 Ohio prison inmates tested for coronavirus, no positive results so far

HIV-positive prison inmate in Ohio argues to state Supreme Court that imprisonment during coronavirus is a death sentence

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