Callers to 911 in Houston will no longer be asked if they are experiencing COVID-like symptoms, changing a months-long practice to pass on the information to first responders. Firefighters are now told to treat every call as if the patient or home is COVID-positive.
Houston Fire Chief Sam Pena said the change is an admission of the widespread nature of the virus in the city and out of concern that callers were not always offering true information.
For months, Pena pleaded with the public to give honest answers to protect firefighters, who have sustained large numbers of COVID-forced quarantines. The change was announced on the same day the Houston Fire Department attended a funeral for Captain Leroy Lucio, Houston's first firefighter to die from COVID-19.
Houston Professional Fire Fighters Association president Marty Lancton told ABC13 he can't understand why the department would want less information for firefighters instead of more.