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Coronavirus continues to sideline dozens of Boston’s first responders

A Boston Police Department cruiser.
A Boston Police Department cruiser.David L. Ryan/Globe Staff

The coronavirus pandemic continues to sideline dozens of Boston’s first responders, with members of the city’s police, fire, and EMS departments out because of the disease, or potential exposure to it, according to authorities.

As of Tuesday, 45 Boston firefighters were self-isolating because of a potential exposure to a COVID-19 case, said Brian Alkins, a department spokesman. To date, that department, which has 1,400 members, has had 15 firefighters test positive for the novel coronavirus.

Boston EMS, meanwhile, currently has 25 of its members out because of exposure or illness linked to COVID-19, said Caitlin McLaughlin, an agency spokeswoman. That department has had eight workers test positive so far. Some of those eight have returned to work, said McLaughlin, but she did not have a specific number of those who have recovered Tuesday afternoon. Boston EMS has 385 EMTs and paramedics.

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At Boston police, Sergeant Detective John Boyle said there have been 52 confirmed COVID-19 cases among the department’s sworn officers, while seven of the department’s civilian workers were also confirmed cases. Like EMS, some of the individuals who were confirmed cases have returned to work.

Boyle did not release the number of police out because of potential exposure to novel coronavirus because the department does not give out information that details the strength of the force, he said. Last month, the department indicated it had more than 1,900 officers available for duty.

As of Tuesday, there have been 2,287 confirmed coronavirus cases among city residents, authorities said. Twenty five deaths of Boston residents have been connected to COVID-19, while 258 residents have recovered from the disease.

Boston Mayor Martin J. Walsh said that under 2 percent of the city’s first responders either tested positive or were symptomatic of COVID-19.

At a Tuesday City Hall press conference, Walsh spoke to the gravity of the situation, saying “unfortunately we’re going to see more loss of life.”

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“What we do in the next few weeks is critical to flattening the curve, and literally saving lives,” said Walsh.

He referenced the city’s new, recommended 9 p.m. to 6 a.m. curfew and said police are empowered to disperse public gatherings under the state advisory, but added that he did not want officers to have to enforce social-distancing standards in places like parks.

“This should be incumbent upon all of us, to make sure we respect each other and help each other stay healthy,” said Walsh.

At the press conference, Walsh announced parking ticket amnesty for health care workers who are helping those who need it during the public health emergency.

Under the policy, if a health care worker gets a parking ticket for a non-public safety reason, like overstaying a meter, the city will waive the ticket upon appeal, so long as the person shares a copy of their work ID.


Danny McDonald can be reached at daniel.mcdonald@globe.com. Follow him on Twitter @Danny__McDonald.