How are Hampton Roads’ first responders being impacted by COVID-19? We asked them

10 On Your Side

HAMPTON ROADS, Va. (WAVY) – During the COVID-19 pandemic, police and fire personnel across Hampton Roads continue to answer emergency calls even as other areas of local government have closed or given the option for many employees to work from home.

Last week, 10 On Your Side told you about the Portsmouth Fire Department’s struggle to protect first responders while answering emergency calls during the coronavirus outbreak.

PFD Fire Chief Jim Hoffler spoke exclusively with 10 On Your Side. He shared that some of his employees have tested positive for COVID-19 and several have been isolated at home after they were possibly exposed to the disease.

The impact on the PFD has resulted in increased spending on personal protective equipment and overtime to keep all of the its companies operating, Hoffler said.

10 On Your Side reached out to the police and fire departments in Hampton Roads and asked them five questions related to the impact of COVID-19 on their departments. Here are their responses:


Chesapeake Fire Department

  1. How many first responders work in your department? 
    444 sworn members who are considered “front line responders” not to include staff positions. 
  2. Have any of your staff tested positive for coronavirus? 
    According to the City’s Public Communications Department, personnel information will not be released. 
  3. Are any of your staff quarantined or self-isolated due to possible COVID-19 exposure? If so, how many? 
    Same as previous question. 
  4. Has COVID-19 impacted your staffing levels? 
    No, we are fully staffed with all equipment in-service.   
  5. How much money, if any, has your department paid first responders in overtime in the last two weeks?  
    This question should be directed through the City’s FOIA process and would probably result in a processing fee as this would require staff hours to compile the data. If you wish to proceed with this request, you can respond to this email or use the City’s records management system, see link below: 
    https://chesapeakeva.govqa.us/WEBAPP/_rs/(S(vob23u133twoaxsaerbw4ucd))/SupportHome.aspx

Chesapeake Police Department

  1. How many first responders work in your department?
    362 
  2. Have any of your staff tested positive for coronavirus? If so, how many?
    Personnel exemption 
  3. Are any of your staff quarantined or self-isolated due to possible COVID-19 exposure? If so, how many? 
    Personnel exemption 
  4. Has COVID-19 impacted your staffing levels? If so, how?
    No
  5. How much money, if any, has your department paid first responders in overtime in the last two weeks?  
    That information would need to be developed as a FOIA request. There will be costs associated in that determination. If you wish to make a formal FOIA, please advise. 

Hampton Police Department

  1. How many first responders work in your department?  
    312 
  2. Have any of your staff tested positive for coronavirus? If so, how many?  
    We currently have 1 employee affected by coronavirus 
  3. Are any of your staff quarantined or self-isolated due to possible COVID-19 exposure? If so, how many? 
    We currently have one employee affected  
  4. Has COVID-19 impacted your staffing levels? If so, how? 
    There have been no changes in our staffing levels. 
  5. How much money, if any, has your department paid first responders in overtime in the last two weeks? 
    We are in the middle of a 28-day pay cycle and presently have no system in place to track COVID specific overtime costs. 

For clarification purposes, impacted employees includes those in self-quarantine, or displaying symptoms. It does not reflect a positive diagnosis.    


Hampton Fire Department

The Hampton Fire Department has not responded to our questions as of April 7.


Newport News Police Department

  1. How many first responders work in your department?  
    435 Sworn 
  2. Have any of your staff tested positive for coronavirus? If so, how many?  
    No 
  3. Are any of your staff quarantined or self-isolated due to possible COVID-19 exposure? If so, how many?  
    No 
  4. Has COVID-19 impacted your staffing levels? If so, how?  
    No 
  5. How much money, if any, has your department paid first responders in overtime in the last two weeks?  
    $0 

Newport News Fire Department

Please see my responses at the end of each question. I am hearing of some difficulties within our area with responses and staffing however we have not experienced that at this point. We are certainly prepared should we be affected. If I can be of further assistance please do not hesitate to contact me. 

  1. How many first responders work in your department?
    Newport News Fire Department has 386 personnel with approximately 350 first responders 
  2. Have any of your staff tested positive for coronavirus? If so, how many?
    None 
  3. Are any of your staff quarantined or self-isolated due to possible COVID-19 exposure? If so, how many?
    The number is minimal but have not had more than 5 at one time. 
  4. Has COVID-19 impacted your staffing levels?
    If so, how? At this point we have not seen an impact on our staffing. We are continuing to staff units as we have been prior to the COVID event. 
  5. How much money, if any, has your department paid first responders in overtime in the last two weeks?
    I don’t have that number at this time due but it has been minimal and more related to minimum staffing versus COVID related. 

Norfolk Police Department

  1. How many first responders work in your department? 
    The Norfolk Police Department has approximately 694 first responders. 
  2. Have any of your staff tested positive for coronavirus? If so, how many? 
    Per City Attorney, information regarding any employee’s medical condition is protected and will not be released.   
  3. Are any of your staff quarantined or self-isolated due to possible COVID-19 exposure? If so, how many? 
    Per City Attorney, information regarding any employee’s medical condition is protected and will not be released.   
  4. Has COVID-19 impacted your staffing levels? If so, how? 
    10% of sworn officers have been placed on “reserve” status. The reserve status allows NPD to replace officers potentially exposed to COVID-19 with those who have not been exposed and/or sick. This precautionary measure affords NPD the ability to maintain a workforce to uphold and promote public safety. 
  5. How much money, if any, has your department paid first responders in overtime in the last two weeks? 
    At this time, no overtime has been appropriated as it relates to COVID-19. 

Portsmouth Police Department

  1. How many first responders work in your department?  
    211 
  2. Have any of your staff tested positive for coronavirus? If so, how many? 
    None. 
  3. Are any of your staff quarantined or self-isolated due to possible COVID-19 exposure? If so, how many?  
    No. 
  4. Has COVID-19 impacted your staffing levels? If so, how?  
    Not to date.  
  5. How much money, if any, has your department paid first responders in overtime in the last two weeks?  
    This is a city finance question and would need to be directed to that department.

Suffolk Fire Department

  1. How many first responders work in your department? 
    300 uniformed Firefighters and Medics operating out of our Stations. 
  2. Have any of your staff tested positive for coronavirus? If so, how many?  
    No 
  3. Are any of your staff quarantined or self-isolated due to possible COVID-19 exposure? If so, how many? 
    3 have been either self-quarantined or self-isolated due to exposure to COVID-19. 
  4. Has COVID-19 impacted your staffing levels? If so, how?  
    Yes, due to the fact that many personnel are married to those that work in the healthcare field or other critical jobs including public safety, and with schools closed and children at home they are now falling under the Families First Coronavirus Response Act (FFCRA)  which has been incorporated into our FMLA policy.  
  5. How much money, if any, has your department paid first responders in overtime in the last two weeks?  
    Due to understandable time constraints and our need to address COVID-19 responses, I don’t have that compiled information to provide at this time.  

Suffolk Police Department

  1. How many first responders work in your department?  
    239 sworn personnel
  2. Have any of your staff tested positive for coronavirus? If so, how many?  
    No
  3. Are any of your staff quarantined or self-isolated due to possible COVID-19 exposure? If so, how many? 
    3 have been either self-quarantined or self-isolated previously due to exposure to COVID-19.  None at this time.
  4. Has COVID-19 impacted your staffing levels? If so, how?  
    No impact at this time.
  5. How much money, if any, has your department paid first responders in overtime in the last two weeks?  
    None

Virginia Beach Fire Department

  1. How many first responders work in your department?
    There is just over 500 uniformed personnel in the Virginia Beach Fire Department. 
  2. Have any of your staff tested positive for coronavirus? If so, how many?
    While we will not be sharing information about specific cases in order to comply with ADA requirements, I can tell you that the City is making sure our first responders are taking all of the necessary precautions and is using CDC/Health Department assessment tools to evaluate and monitor employees who may be exposed to the coronavirus in the workplace. To date we have had a small number of cases. In accordance with established protocols, the Health Department handles the trace investigations and the City’s Occupational Safety and Health Services Division manages the cases to ensure the employees receive the appropriate level of monitoring and care. 
  3. Are any of your staff quarantined or self-isolated due to possible COVID-19 exposure? If so, how many?
    The answer to this question is reflected in the previous response to question 2. 
  4. Has COVID-19 impacted your staffing levels? If so, how?
    We have all shifts fully staffed.  As for how this is impacting us as a whole, like everyone else, we are taking it day by day, implementing the plans and procedures necessary to continue delivering service while ensuring our employees and our volunteers (most of our EMS personnel) have the necessary protective equipment, monitoring and care. 
  5. How much money, if any, has your department paid first responders in overtime in the last two weeks?
    As you can imagine Adrienne, over-time is not unusual when you work the kind of shifts common to all first-responders. To date, there has been no out of the ordinary use of overtime. 

Virginia Beach Police Department

  1. How many first responders work in your department?
    We currently have 769 sworn officers. 
  2. Have any of your staff tested positive for coronavirus? If so, how many?
    While we will not be sharing information about specific cases in order to comply with ADA requirements, I can tell you that the City is making sure our first responders are taking all of the necessary precautions and is using CDC/Health Department assessment tools to evaluate and monitor employees who may be exposed to the coronavirus in the workplace. To date we have had a small number of cases. In accordance with established protocols, the Health Department handles the trace investigations and the City’s Occupational Safety and Health Services Division manages the cases to ensure the employees receive the appropriate level of monitoring and care.
  3. Are any of your staff quarantined or self-isolated due to possible COVID-19 exposure? If so, how many?
    While we will not be sharing information about specific cases in order to comply with ADA requirements, I can tell you that the City is making sure our first responders are taking all of the necessary precautions and is using CDC/Health Department assessment tools to evaluate and monitor employees who may be exposed to the coronavirus in the workplace. To date we have had a small number of cases. In accordance with established protocols, the Health Department handles the trace investigations and the City’s Occupational Safety and Health Services Division manages the cases to ensure the employees receive the appropriate level of monitoring and care.
  4. Has COVID-19 impacted your staffing levels? If so, how?
    Our staffing has not been an issue. In fact, we have had more resources on the street, which can be attributed to the SRO’s (who would typically be assigned to individual schools) being temporarily reassigned to the precincts, providing sufficient coverage for all shifts at each precinct.
  5. How much money, if any, has your department paid first responders in overtime in the last two weeks?
    The most recent data we have for overtime expenditures is for the time frame of March 12 – March 25, which indicates $104,533.09 was spent for overtime pay.

Are you a first responder working during the coronavirus pandemic? Reach out to Adrienne Mayfield at adrienne.mayfield@wavy.com.

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