3 Ohio public safety agencies no longer revealing number of personnel tested positive for COVID-19

The Columbus Divisions of Fire and Police and Franklin County Sheriff’s Office said they made the decision after consulting with legal counsel


The Columbus Division of Fire, along with the city’s Division of Police and the Franklin County Sheriff’s Office, have announced they will no longer be publicly reporting the number of personnel who have tested positive for COVID-19.

Photo/Columbus Division of Fire Facebook

Bethany Bruner
The Columbus Dispatch, Ohio

FRANKLIN COUNTY, Ohio — The three largest public safety agencies in Franklin County will no longer release the number of personnel who have tested positive for the new coronavirus, the agencies said Monday.

The Columbus Divisions of Fire and Police and the Franklin County sheriff’s office all cited consultations with legal counsel.

“It has been determined that the impact of COVID-19 on staffing numbers is considered part of our critical infrastructure, and therefore protected information,” the sheriff’s office said in a release.

Representatives of the police and fire divisions echoed the sheriff’s office stance.

As of Sunday, the fire division had eight firefighters who had tested positive for the coronavirus. Of those, six were recovering at home, and two had returned to work after they were no longer considered contagious.

Battalion Chief Steve Martin told WBNS-10TV that 36 other firefighters were in isolation on Sunday because they had symptoms that were consistent with COVID-19.

Martin also told 10TV on Sunday that 19 firefighters are in quarantine with no current symptoms because of close contact with a colleague who exhibited symptoms. All 19 will be quarantined for 14 days or until they receive a negative test result.

There are another 12 firefighters who are being screened before reporting to duty because of casual contact with someone who became symptomatic.

According to Martin, the division has been working under a mitigation plan since March 12 to make sure the division is able to continue to respond to calls without significant noticeable differences to the public. Additional alternative response types are also being worked on, he said.


©2020 The Columbus Dispatch (Columbus, Ohio)