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Public Safety Commission to address COVID-related absences for Austin first responders

Data from the commission reveals an estimated 55% of the Austin Police Department is vaccinated.

AUSTIN, Texas — The Austin Public Safety Commission will address COVID-19-related absences among first responder personnel at its meeting on Tuesday night.

Data from the commission reveals vaccination rates for Austin police, fire and EMS workers, as well as the impact COVID-19 cases has had on time off for sworn personnel.

Numbers from the Austin Fire Department show around 24% of sworn personnel have tested positive for COVID-19 since the pandemic began. Around 89% of the positive cases at AFD after March 1, 2021, were among the unvaccinated. AFD estimates around 77% of its personnel are vaccinated.

AFD reported 371 personnel have taken time off due to COVID-19 since the pandemic began, equaling 163,422 hours of time off. As of Sept. 1, 25 sworn AFD personnel were off due to COVID-19.

For police, numbers from the Austin Police Department ­show around 18% of sworn personnel have tested positive for COVID-19 since the pandemic began. Around 79% of the positive cases at APD after March 1, 2021, were among the unvaccinated. APD estimates around 55% of its personnel are vaccinated.

APD reported 722 personnel have taken time off due to COVID-19 since the pandemic began. As of Sept. 1, 42 sworn APD personnel were off due to COVID-19.

For Austin-Travis County EMS, numbers show around 15% of sworn personnel have tested positive for COVID-19 since the pandemic began. Around 26% of the positive cases at ATCEMS after March 1, 2021, were among the unvaccinated. ATCEMS estimates around 90% of its personnel are vaccinated.

ATCEMS reported 267 personnel have taken time off due to COVID-19 since the pandemic began, equaling 17,137 hours of time off.

Last month, AFD announced the death of one of its firefighters due to COVID-19 complications. Also last month, two officers from APD died of COVID-19 two days in a row. APD announced it is tightening its COVID-19 protocols.   

The commission is also expected to have an update on the APD chief hiring process.

On Friday, Aug. 13, Austin City Manager Spencer Cronk announced the top three finalists out of a field of 46 applicants:

  • Joseph Chacon, Interim Chief of Police, Austin Police Department
  • Avery L. Moore, Assistant Chief, Dallas Police Department
  • Emada E. Tingirides, Deputy Chief, Los Angeles Police Department

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