Austin, Texas - A paramedic with Austin-Travis County EMS (ATCEMS) has recently tested positive for COVID-19. This is the first case of a first responder testing positive for COVID-19. Upon learning of the diagnosis, ATCEMS provided housing for the paramedic and additional supportive needs such as food, medical care and mental health services. The medic is showing mild illness. Austin Public Health (APH) is also conducting contact tracing and informing those who may have had close personal contact with this individual.
Since the beginning of the spread of COVID-19 in our community, The City has taken proactive measures to limit exposures to personnel and the public since before confirmed COVID-19 cases reached our community. For example, on March 12 a measure was enacted requiring all ATCEMS uniformed staff to take their temperatures every 12 hours while on and off duty. APH works closely with paramedics to triage and manage patients in order to maintain everyone’s safety.
"The health and safety of our first responders is our highest priority," said Dr. Jason Pickett, Austin Alternate Health Authority. "The exposure of the ATCEMS medic was not the result of a breach of protocol. We have measures in place to ensure they are properly protected and equipped when they respond to calls of flu-like symptoms. We will continue to reassess first responder protocols as needed during the rapidly evolving COVID-19 situation."
Additionally, as testing continues to expand in Austin-Travis County, testing priority is given to our first responders, including ATCEMS, healthcare workers, higher risk individuals and those who work in critical infrastructure.
It t is important for everyone to continue to take measures to slow the spread of COVID-19 to keep our medical professionals, public safety professionals, friends, family and neighbors safe.
APH continues to stress the importance of practicing good personal hygiene and maintaining social distance during essential activities to disrupt the spread of the virus. Proper hygiene practices include:
- Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds. If soap and water are unavailable, use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer.
- Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth with unwashed hands.
- Avoid close contact with people who are sick.
- Stay home when you are sick.
- Cough or sneeze into your elbow or use a tissue to cover it, then throw the tissue in the trash.
- Clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces.
For more COVID-19 updates and information, visit AustinTexas.gov/COVID19.