PINELLAS COUNTY, Fla. -- Some Tampa Bay area law enforcement organizations are rolling out mandatory temperature checks to keep first responders and the community safe.
Deputies in Pinellas and Hillsborough Counties are now being screened for fevers before starting work.
The change comes as dozens of first responders are under quarantine orders after having contact with someone with COVID-19.
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St. Petersburg Police Department is doing voluntary temperature checks for officers. Meanwhile, in Pinellas and Hillsborough Counties, deputies must have their temperature taken before entering any sheriff stations.
“They have to have a temperature of below 100 degrees in order to come into work and that’s really to protect the community as well as our deputies. If our deputies start falling ill, who’s going to protect Hillsborough County?” Amanda Granit, with the Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Office explained.
In Pinellas County, deputies must receive a wristband in order to get into the jail or sheriff stations.
“Everybody gets a wristband and the color changes every day. If you don’t have a wristband, then you’re not going to be here. Employees have to answer a series of health questions and have their temperatures taken to get one,” Sheriff Bob Gualtieri said.
Officers and firefighters are also fogging vehicles with a disinfectant spray after each transport.
So far, St. Petersburg police has had two employees test positive for COVID-19. The most recent case was an officer who became ill while on vacation and had not returned to work.
The Pinellas County Sheriff's Office says they have 50 employees under quarantine and 1 positive COVID-19 case.
In Hillsborough County, 3 deputies are under quarantined after performing CPR Sunday on someone diagnosed with the virus.
Police officers and deputies are also responding to fewer non-emergency calls. If you call to report a minor theft, chances are you’ll only be able to talk to law enforcement over the phone.
Officers and deputies are also using foggers to disinfect police cruisers after every transport, and in St. Petersburg, Police leaders are drafting a tier plan to space out crews if too many officers get sick.
“Hopefully we don’t get to that point but there’s a plan so we know how to direct our officers and what we need to do if we start having to pull multiple numbers of crews off the street,” Yolanda Fernandez of the St. Petersburg Police Department added.
Fire departments are also rolling out new protocols to keep staff safe. Clearwater Fire Department is teaming up with Largo and Safety Harbor to staff a COVID-19 response truck.
The vehicle is lined in plastic and is specifically designed to prevent cross contamination with specialized gear.
Volunteers from all three fire departments will respond to patients with fevers, dry coughs and other symptoms of COVID-19. After every call, the truck is sprayed down with hydrogen peroxide.
St. Petersburg Fire Department also started using a strike unit to respond to coronavirus calls.
Fire department leaders tell ABC Action News having specialized units respond to the COVID-19 calls will also cut down on the amount of personal protective gear needed for crews, which is in short supply across the country.