The chiefs of Fresno’s police and fire departments reassured the public they are ready and able to respond to emergency needs Thursday afternoon.
But Fresno Fire Chief Kerri Donis is asking for the public’s help to warn first responders if they have COVID-19 symptoms when calling for service.
“We are on the front lines of this virus. It is a much higher likelihood that our firefighters or police officers are at higher risk of being exposed,” Donis said at a City Hall news conference. “But we are a dedicated public safety profession and we will continue to respond to serve our community.”
Donis specifically asked for a heads-up if the person calling for service has a fever, rash, or has recently traveled out of the country.
Police and Fire On-Call as Usual
Both Donis and Fresno Police Chief Andrew Hall said they will respond to calls for service as usual.
“When we signed up for this job, we raised our hand and we swore an oath to serve this community,” Hall said. “And I am here to tell you, we will honor that commitment.”
Hall reiterated that there will be dispatchers answering phones, and officers on patrol.
“We will not abandon the community during a time of crisis,” Hall said.
Donis issued a similar message regarding the fire department.
Police Taking Precautions
Hall said only seven of his approximately 800 officers are home with medical issues. He did not specify if any were coronavirus-related.
The police department has closed its counter service.
No Time Limit to End
Mayor Lee Brand could not give specifics of when the COVID-19 state of emergency might end. The city council approved the emergency order Monday.
“I can’t see any specific factors. It is primarily will depend on the stage of this virus,” Brand said.
Among those factors will be the number of cases, but said there was no magic number of when to lift the ordinance.
Compliance with Shelter-in-Place
On Wednesday, the city issued a voluntary order for people to shelter-in-place. The same order, though, mandated businesses deemed non-essential to close.
The shelter-in-place order lasts through March 31 but could be extended.
Brand said most residents are complying. They are also “flooding” the city with phone calls, seeking clarification of the order.
“We are all in this together,” Brand said. “Please stay calm and join us in stopping the coronavirus.”