HOUSTON — The Houston Fire Department had its first confirmed COVID-19 case on Tuesday.
The Harris County Sheriff's Office previously reported two confirmed cases and the Houston Police Department reported three confirmed cases.
Eight firefighters were under quarantine after possible exposure on Monday. So far, one has tested positive.
“That forced us to quarantine 12 other individuals," Fire Chief Samuel Pena said.
Pena said there are now more than 30 firefighters under quarantine, some in isolation at home, others are being put up in hotel rooms.
“It is affecting us. It may affect our ability to staff," Pena said.
Pena is begging the public to stay home, saying slowing the spread of the virus is the only way to keep first responders on the clock.
But if you do need to call them, let them know why.
“Help us out when you call 911. Anybody having flu-like symptoms in the home, please let our call takers know, that way our firefighters can be better prepared as they enter the scene," Pena said.
First responders across Texas are trying to do what they can to protect themselves. HCSO deputies are stocking up on protective gear and sanitizer, passing them out to crews in the field.
“Our footprint is much wider than normal," Houston Police Chief Art Acevedo said.
Acevedo said they’re ramping up patrol and keeping a closer watch on grocery stores, pharmacies, banks and businesses that are closed. They will also have their mounted officers patrolling the parks.
“At the end of the day, ladies and gentlemen, if you see anything suspicious, please call us so they can respond," Acevedo said.
Acevedo said when it comes to officer safety, keeping their distance is something they’ve always been taught.
“In terms of officer safety dealing with the suspect, this is no different. The enemy is the virus. When we create space, we create distance, we actually protect one another," Acevedo said.