Tucson 911 call center tests more employees following COVID-19 outbreak

911 call center and COVID-19
Updated: Jun. 5, 2020 at 8:13 PM MST
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TUCSON, Ariz. (KOLD News 13) - All 21 COVID-19 tests for a 911 call center where there is an outbreak, have tested negative.

This after in the initial round of testing, 17 tested positive out of 84 tested, with 11 asymptomatic and six symptomatic.

The cluster was first discovered on Memorial Day when several workers called in sick.

Since then, the city has changed protocols at the south side dispatch center where 147 employees work.

Plexiglass has been installed between workers, masks are now required as is daily temperature testing. The city has moved some of the consoles into a formally vacant area to provide more social distancing.

“Simply putting a piece of plexiglass between two co-workers and calling it good, is probably not good enough,” said Ward 6 City Council member Steve Kozachik. “This should have been exercised March 15 when we shut the city down.”

Kozachik said the city should have taken steps from day one to protect an essential service like 911 calls.

“These people are sitting next to each other for 10- to 12-hour shifts, constantly talking,” he said. “When the city shut down in mid-March, this was ground zero.”

Tucson Mayor Regina Romero sent this statement this afternoon.

“The City Manager is actively monitoring the situation and will inform Mayor & Council if conditions change. I’ve been assured by the City Manager that public safety response times have not been impacted. The health and safety of our city employees must be a top priority.”

Kozachik said this should be a wake-up call for congregant settings, city officers and private business as well.

“We can’t pretend these past two months are just a blip on the radar screen and everything is going to be great in a couple of weeks,” he said. “That’s not a reality.”

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