New York City first responders have high COVID-19 rates; public surfaces may hold clues to virus spread

  • Source: Reuters
  • Published: 11/06/2020 12:00 AM

Compared to the general public, New York City firefighters and emergency medical workers were 15 times more likely to be infected with the new coronavirus during the first wave of the pandemic, researchers reported on Thursday in ERJ Open Research. They studied nearly 10,800 firefighters and 3,500 emergency medical technicians (EMTs) and paramedics. From the beginning of March to the end of May, 36.2% of these front-line workers were either confirmed as having the virus with a positive PCR viral test or suspected as having COVID-19 due to their symptoms. During the same period, the rate was 2.4% in the city's general population. Compared to the firefighters, the EMTs and paramedics were more likely to contract the virus and to develop severe COVID-19. Everyone in the study had previously undergone tests to assess their lung health, and those with declining lung function before the pandemic had higher risks of severe COVID-19.


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