By Laura French
NEW YORK — Five FDNY EMS providers at a station in Queens have tested positive for COVID-19, renewing warnings from union leaders regarding a potential second wave of the pandemic.
The department is closely monitoring the outbreak at the Astoria EMS station with contact tracing and additional tests, an FDNY spokesperson told PIX11.
Uniformed EMTs, Paramedics and Fire Inspectors Local 2507 President Oren Barzilay said that the news of five new cases within one station was "frightening" and added "from what I understand, one of the members, it's his second time," according to PIX11.
Earlier this year, about 25% of FDNY EMS members took medical leave due to COVID-19, but over the last few months, the percentage of FDNY members on medical leave for the virus has stayed below 3%.
A department spokesperson said all members are provided with PPE, hand sanitizer and COVID-19 mitigation training, but Barzilay says members still haven't had consistent access to sufficient resources.
"FDNYs press office is irresponsible and full of lies. No trace testing, no disinfectants available for mo[n]ths, no hand sanitizers, no extensive training, short staffing, stations contaminated," the union tweeted on Tuesday.
Local 2507 Vice President Lt. Anthony Almojera also told PIX11 that the department is "underprepared for a second wave, should it come," adding that the public has a role in helping to protect members by wearing masks, washing their hands and social distancing.
The city health department reported a small uptick in patients with COVID-19-like symptoms visiting emergency departments in recent weeks, but an FDNY spokesperson said the department's medical call volume has dropped back down to its normal level compared to the historic levels seen during the height of the pandemic, according to the New York Post.
FDNYs press office is irresponsible and full of lies.
No trace testing, no disinfectants available for moths, no hand sanitizers, no extensive training, short staffing, stations contaminated. @NYCMayor @stucknation @NYCEMSwatch @UEMSO_FDNY @NYCCouncil
— Uniformed EMT's, Paramedics & Fire Inspectors NYC (@UEPI2507) October 14, 2020