EL PASO, Texas -- The spread of the Covid-19 coronavirus has continued worldwide. While health experts continue to say the virus spreading to El Paso is unlikely, the city's first responders aren’t taking any chances.
"Everything that the general public does, if they are sick stay home, make sure you wash your hands," said Asst. Fire Chief Jorge Rodriguez, who is the head of the Office of Emergency Management in El Paso.
The advice local first responders are giving and the way they prepare has not changed much even as the virus has spread.
Rodriguez said the threat to the city from Covid-19 is low, they are not taking this threat lightly.
"Right now it's a steady-state just taking everyday calls until something changes," he said. That change would be a confirmed case in the city.
El Paso public health labs now have coronavirus testing capabilities and with first responders already using protective equipment, the risk to emergency personnel is low. Rodriguez said it's up to individuals to realize when they have a problem, so first responders aren't put in harm’s way in the first place.
“If you are going to go to your doctor, and you have been traveling in one of these places, you let your doctor know well in advance and the doctor will contact the health department and make sure those steps are followed accordingly," said Rodriguez.
The cleaning procedures for local ambulances already are ahead of what is recommended by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control because of the wide variety of infectious diseases that get treated.
The main focus of the Office of Emergency Management is prevention, and Rodriguez noted that "we are still in influenza season and some of the symptoms are very common, so it can easily be misunderstood. but there is very specific criteria the CDC has put out."