We are asking all affiliates to complete our COVID-19 tracking survey for reporting the number of IAFF members/fire-EMS personnel in your local/fire department who have tested positive for coronavirus or have been quarantined or in isolation.


April 1 — The Center of Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) has relaxed some requirements allowing fire departments to:

  • Transport patients to alternative destinations, such as urgent care, community mental health facilities, physician’s offices and patient’s homes
  • Allow fire departments to submit for reimbursement to CMS for the transport the same way as if transported to the hospital
  • Provide telehealth services through a contracted physician to assist with treat and release with no transport
  • Fire departments cannot bill for telehealth services directly but can arrange with the providing doctor. This is also a good way to lessen the burden on 9-1-1 call volume

March 31 – The IAFF has developed checklists for decontaminating apparatus after a potential exposure and cleaning stations during this pandemic.

March 30 – Watch this video message from General President Harold Schaitberger on how the IAFF is working to secure the tools and resources you need to fight the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.

March 28 – The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA)/Health and Human Services Healthcare Resilience Task Force has established that fire/EMS agencies are at the same level of priority for PPE as hospitals, healthcare facilities and workers. See guidance for submitting resupply requests.

March 27 – Congress completed its work on an economic stimulus package intended to address the response to and impact of the COVID-19 pandemic. The bill includes significant resources for fire and EMS as follows:

  • $45 billion for the Disaster Relief Fund to reimburse fire and EMS departments for expenses related to the response to the virus.
  • $100 million in funding through the Assistance to Firefighters (FIRE Act) grant program, earmarked specifically for PPE and related supplies.
  • $100 billion to reimburse healthcare providers, including EMS, for healthcare expenses or lost revenue, including costs related to medical supplies and equipment, such as PPE, increased workforce expenses and surge capacity.
  • $41 million for the National Forest System and Wildland Fire Management for PPE and baseline health testing.

The CDC/NIOSH has updated the Ryan White Act to include COVID-19. Hospitals are now mandated to notify emergency response employees of any exposure to a positive COVID-19 patient.

March 25 – 10 Things Your Local Should Be Doing for COVID-19 Response helps identify the most important issues facing members and provide the information and resources needed to ensure best practices are in place.

March 24 – The IAFF has developed a new, more dynamic data tool to help you document exposures among members in your local/fire department and in departments across both countries. Once reported, this data will be available in real time so that we have a clearer picture of the impact of COVID-19 on our members and affiliates across the United States and Canada.

More

March 23 Pearson Vue© has agreed to begin limited reopening of state-owned testing centers within colleges and universities as a means of allowing more than 12,000 students to take emergency medical technician (EMT) and paramedic certification exams. This positive news follows a letter from General President Harold Schaitberger to the National Governors Association (NGA) to get more EMTs and paramedics certified as we respond to the COVID-19 pandemic.

March 21 – Watch our new video on self screening and post the Self-Screening Guidelines poster in every fire station.

Review the IAFF Return to Work guidelines.

Use the National Fire Operations Reporting System (NFORS) Exposure mobile app to help in collecting national exposure data for all fire fighters and paramedics. Watch the demo video on how to enter data.

March 20 – The IAFF’s Jim Brinkley talks with MSNBC about the dire need for additional PPE for fire fighters and paramedics on the frontlines of the COVID-19 pandemic.

March 19 – Watch our new video on proper PPE donning and doffing techniques.

Listen to our IAFF COVID-19 Podcast

March 18 – The IAFF addresses shortage of PPE on Fox News.

See our self-screening guidelines for posting in every fire station.

March 17 – See our new COVID-19 Post-Exposure/Quarantine Symptom Monitoring Tracker. This form can be used to track signs and symptoms following an exposure and while in quarantine.

March 13 – The president announced an emergency declaration to address the coronavirus pandemic. The declaration will free up nearly $50 billion in disaster money to fight the spread of the virus and expand capacity at hospitals and reduce other health regulations that could slow action.

March 12 – The IAFF has sent a letter to Secretary of Health and Human Services Alex Azar objecting to the conclusions and recommendations of the CDC’s updated Interim Guidance for Emergency Medical Services (EMS) Systems and 911 Public Safety Answering Points (PSAPs) for COVID-19 in the United States.

March 11 – One of the new coronavirus cases is a fire fighter in Kirkland who may have helped with transporting ill patients from Life Care to area hospitals. Thirty-one Kirkland fire fighters and three police officers are in quarantine, while six have been released after completing their quarantine period without developing symptoms. Most are in isolation or quarantine at home.

March 10 – More than 50 members in Washington state are under quarantine for possible exposure to COVID-19.

March 6 We will be livestreaming a COVID-19 Briefing on Tuesday, March 10 from 8:00-9:00 a.m. (EDT) on our efforts to ensure we address the needs of our members on the frontlines responding to patients who may be infected or who are quarantined or isolated due to possible exposure.

March 4 – Nine quarantined members in Washington state, along with seven family members with flu-like symptoms, are being tested for the coronavirus.

February 28 – More than 25 members were exposed and subsequently quarantined in Washington state in relation to calls they ran to the nursing home where it has been confirmed that the first death from the coronavirus occurred. Learn More

February 26 – The global death toll neared 2,800 with a total of about 80,000 confirmed infection cases reported globally.

February 18 – There were approximately 400 U.S. citizens onboard the Diamond Princess cruise ship. The U.S. government disembarked the majority of the U.S. citizens from the ship and brought them back to the United States on February 18. Of those brought back, 14 passengers tested positive for COVID-19 and are being treated at a medical facility in Omaha, Nebraska. The other passengers will be subject to a 14-day, federal quarantine and be housed at two existing federal quarantine sites for repatriated travelers: Travis Air Force Base in California and Joint Base San Antonio-Lackland in Texas.

February 13 – The death toll in mainland China hit 1,300, with nearly 60,000 infections recorded. Meanwhile, Japan confirmed its first death from the virus.

January 31 – The Secretary of the Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) declared a public health emergency in the United States on January 31, 2020. The emergency declaration gives state, tribal and local health departments the ability to request that DHHS provide funding, supplies and resources to respond to COVID-19.

January 30 – WHO declared the COVID-19 outbreak a public health emergency of international concern on January 30, 2020, after they identified that the novel coronavirus is expected to continue spreading internationally and may appear in any country.

January 27 – The CDC has raised the travel advisory to a Level 3 warning: Avoid all nonessential travel to China. Chinese authorities are imposing quarantines and restricting travel throughout the country. There is also a Level 4 warning to not travel to the Hubei province, China, due to novel coronavirus first identified in Wuhan, China.

January 17 As a second death was reported in Wuhan, health authorities in the U.S. announced that three airports would start screening passengers arriving from the city. Authorities in the United States, Nepal, France, Australia, Malaysia, Singapore, South Korea, Vietnam and Taiwan confirmed cases over the following days.

January 7 – Officials announced they had identified a new virus, according to the WHO. The novel virus was named 2019-nCoV and was identified as belonging to the coronavirus family, which includes SARS and the common cold.

December 31, 2019 China alerted WHO to several cases of unusual pneumonia in Wuhan, a port city of 11 million people in the central Hubei province. The virus was unknown.

Signs and Symptoms

The reported illnesses for COVID-19 have ranged from mild symptoms to severe illness and death.

The onset of symptoms may appear 2-14 days after exposure and generally are categorized as flu like symptoms, including:

  • Fever
  • Cough
  • Shortness of breath

Who are most at risk of severe symptoms of COVID-19?

Older adults, immunocompromised individuals and those who have severe underlying chronic medical conditions like heart or lung disease or diabetes seem to be at higher risk for developing more serious complications from COVID-19 illness.

While the more severe symptoms are commonly affecting the older and immunocompromised individuals, it is good practice to avoid close contact with those individuals if you’ve been exposed to a positive COVID-19 patient. If you are showing symptoms, avoid these individuals and contact your medical provider.


COVID-19 Transmission

  • Person to Person: The virus is thought to spread mainly from person-to-person by those who are in close contact with one another (within about 6 feet) through – most commonly – respiratory droplets produced when an infected person coughs or sneezes.
  • Contaminated surfaces or objects: It may be possible that a person can get COVID-19 by touching a surface or object that has the virus on it and then touching their own mouth, nose or possibly their eyes, but this is not thought to be the main way the virus spreads. There are many variables to the survivability of the virus outside the body and it is unknown exactly how long it can survive on a surface. Disinfecting the apparatus, stretcher or equipment after exposure to a potential or confirmed positive patient is recommended. Members are required to wear the appropriate PPE and use the recommended bleach solution, antiseptic wipes or 65 percent or higher alcohol-based cleanser to eliminate any possible virus survivability. It is also important to practice good hand hygiene if you believe you’ve come in contact with a contaminated surface.
  • Community Spread: When individuals in a community test positive for the virus but are unsure of how or where they became infected.

Can you spread COVID-19 without showing signs and symptoms?

People are thought to be most contagious when they are symptomatic.

Although this is not thought to be the main way the virus spreads, there have been some reported cases of COVID-19 spreading before people show symptoms.


Quarantine Versus Isolation

Quarantine is a restriction on the movement of people who have been exposed to a virus but do not have symptoms or a confirmed medical diagnosis.

Isolation is used to separate infected persons who have a communicable disease from those who are healthy to help stop the spread of certain diseases.

Unprotected members (not wearing appropriate PPE) exposed to a confirmed positive COVID-19 patient shall be quarantined for 14 days. If you show symptoms during that time, then testing shall be conducted. If positive, then moved to isolation. If negative, then continue quarantine until 14 days are complete.

For more information on how to prepare your department for Quarantine and Isolation, please visit our Policies and Procedures page.


COVID-19 Testing

Call your healthcare professional if:

  • You feel sick with fever, cough or have difficulty breathing.
  • Have been in close contact with a person known to have COVID-19.

Your healthcare professional will work with your state’s public health department and CDC to determine if you need to be tested for COVID-19.

Testing will only be conducted if the individual is showing symptoms. Personnel should expect COVID-19 test results 24-48 hours post testing.


Background

The recent outbreak of the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) originated in Wuhan City, Hubei Province, China, and was first identified by Chinese authorities in mid-December 2019. Since then, the outbreak has resulted in thousands of confirmed human infections and hundreds of reported deaths.

Coronaviruses are a large family of viruses, some of which cause illness in people. The virus typically originates in animals, including camels, cats and bats and sometimes progresses to human-to-human transmission.

If you are showing signs and symptoms, comply with applicable requirements as instructed by your monitoring team (e.g., local health department, safety officer) when the quarantine was initiated. Additionally, testing for COVID-19 will be required and conducted by health department personnel.

Printable PDF: Interim Guidance for EMS


Recommendations for 911 PSAPs

  • Municipalities and local EMS authorities should coordinate with state and local public health, PSAPs and other emergency call centers to determine the need for modified caller queries about COVID-19.
  • Development of modifiedcaller queries should be closely coordinated with an EMS medical director and informed by local, state and federal public health authorities, including the city or county health department(s), state health department(s) and the CDC.
  • PSAPs or Emergency Medical Dispatch (EMD) centers (as appropriate) should question callers and determine the possibility that this call concerns a person who may have signs or symptoms and risk factors for COVID-19.
  • More information: Guidance for Emergency Medical Services Systems and 911 Public Safety Answering Points (PSAPs) for COVID-19 in the United States

Preparation

  • COVID-19 Self-Screening Guidelines
  • Self-Screening Video
  • Review your department’s exposure control plan.
  • Plan to meet or connect with local and state health departments to discuss policies, procedures and precautions in case COVID-19 becomes widespread.
  • Maintain an adequate supply of N95 and surgical masks and monitor the availability of both masks with your medical supply vendor.
  • Routinely check the IAFF website for more information about COVID-19.

Potential Exposure


Protection

  • Recommended Guidelines for Selection, Care and Cleaning/Sanitization of Structural Fire Fighting Protective Clothing
  • The CDC recommends N-95 or P-100 with eye protection
    • N-95 and higher levels of respiratory protection require fit testing
    • Eye protection should be face shield or goggles
    • Surgical masks with plastic eye lenses are inappropriate PPE
  • If possible and tolerated, place a surgical mask on patients to minimize exposure
  • Use a clean, non-sterile, long-sleeved, fluid-resistant gown
  • Gloves
  • Use either single-use, disposable equipment or dedicated equipment to decontaminate. If equipment needs to be shared among patients, clean and disinfect between each patient using ethyl alcohol (70%) or bleach solution (ratio of ¼ cup of bleach in a gallon of water)
  • Hand washing
  • Minimize patient contact in poorly ventilated areas
  • Disinfect the ambulance with bleach solution
    • Routinely clean and disinfect patient-contact areas
  • For more information about PPE, visit these CDC webpages:

Decontaminating Gear and Equipment


State and Federal Resources

Congress has passed and the president has signed an $8.3 billion supplemental appropriation to fund the response to coronavirus. There are a variety of resources that will be available to fire departments for personal protective equipment (PPE) and medical supplies, and to meet overtime and backfill needs. Included in this package are:

  • $950 million to support states and localities in carrying out a variety of activities related to the response to the virus.
  • Approximately $500 million for medical supplies, including PPE.
  • $300 million in contingency funding for the procurement of vaccines, therapeutics and diagnostics.

The most important action that state affiliates can take to ensure that these resources are secured to assist our members and their departments is to contact their respective governors to ensure fire and EMS agencies are given priority as resources are distributed.

PPE and medical supplies can also be obtained through the Strategic National Stockpile and state stockpiles. Most states have an infectious disease plan or pandemic plan that outlines distribution of supplies in a public health emergency.

Affiliate leaders should immediately contact your governor and state homeland security director to ensure these plans specify that fire fighters and emergency medical personnel receive priority as supplies are distributed.

Lastly, funding for overtime and backfill needs will be necessary as members are quarantined or isolated due to contact with infected patients. Funds are available for this purpose through the federally funded State Homeland Security Grant Program (SHSP) or the Urban Area Security Initiative (UASI). States and high-risk urban areas must justify proposed expenditures of SHSP or UASI funds in their Investment Justification submissions. Leaders should work with their governors and State Homeland Security directors to reprioritize and reprogram funds via their respective State Administrative Agency.

As the coronavirus (COVID-19) cases and exposures continue to grow, we want to make sure you have the latest information to protect the health and safety of our members and the public when responding to potential COVID-19 cases.


Quarantine and Isolation

It is important to identify where members will be quarantined if they’ve been exposed to a positive COVID-19 patient or isolated if the members test positive for COVID-19. Locations should be identified for these purposes if an outbreak occurs.

Members can be quarantined at home for 14 days with family members occupying the same residence provided that members avoid close contact with family members and maintain a 6-foot distance, self-monitor for any of the COVID-19 symptoms, practice and maintain personal hygiene (e.g., constant handwashing), avoid public contact and cooperate with local and state health departments.

If you’ve been exposed, you should make appropriate notifications and document the event in accordance to department protocols.

Follow the IAFF Return to Work Protocols


Workers’ Compensation and Administrative Leave Guidance

Affiliates in states or provinces with collective bargaining agreements should review them thoroughly prior to an event requiring the quarantine of your members. If no agreement is in place, recommendations include meeting with management, human resources directors, workers’ compensation directors and other decision makers before a COVID-19 incident occurs. The goal of the meeting is to agree to administrative leave if your members are quarantined and to award workers’ compensability if infected. Ensure the agreement is in writing by all applicable parties. Non-collective bargaining states should also meet with their employer and other decision makers to ensure members are afforded administrative leave if quarantined and awarded workers’ compensability if infected with COVID-19.

Plan to meet or connect with local and state health departments to discuss policies, procedures and precautions in case COVID-19 before it becomes widespread.


Decontamination

It is important to ensure your department has an adequate supply of or access to EPA-registered hospital grade disinfectants (list of disinfectants) for adequate decontamination of EMS transport vehicles and their contents.

Ensure those cleaning contaminated apparatuses are educated, trained and have practiced the process according to the manufacturer’s recommendations or the EMS agency’s standard operating procedures.


Dispatch Protocols

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has updated its Interim Guidance for Emergency Medical Services (EMS) Systems and 911 Public Safety Answering Points (PSAPs).

Questions Dispatch Centers Should Be Asking to Screen for COVID-19:

  • What is the address of the emergency?
  • What is the phone number you are calling from?
  • Okay, tell me exactly what happened.
  • How old is the patient?
  • Is the patient awake?
  • Is the patient breathing?

If the patient is awake and breathing, before proceeding to the chief complaint protocol, ask the three questions below:

  1. Is the patient short of breath?
  2. Does the patient have a fever?
  3. Does the patient have a cough?

If YES to two out of the three questions, a pre-alert message should be sent to the responding crews informing them to don the appropriate PPE for COVID-19. The response configuration should be modified to minimize the number of first responders being exposed to a person under investigation.

COVID-19 Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Please note that this is a rapidly changing situation so check back regularly for updates.

General Information

1. Where can I get information about the COVID-19 or coronavirus?

See the IAFF Coronavirus Resource and visit the CDC’s coronavirus webpage.

The CDC has updated guidance on EMS response, but the IAFF does not support their recommendation that face masks are an appropriate alternative if supply is low. Please see the IAFF’s letter to the Department of Health and Human Services Secretary Azar regarding this matter.

For the latest up-to-date information and PPE recommendations, check back regularly.

2. How many days is the CDC currently requiring quarantine for personnel exposed to a patient confirmed positive for COVID-19?

Members who experienced a high-risk exposure should notify their department in accordance with their exposure control plan and be placed in quarantine for 14 days.

Health officials recommend exposed individuals await the onset of signs and symptoms (i.e., fever, cough, respiratory difficulty) prior to being tested. Members who show signs or symptoms during quarantine should be tested. Members who test positive should move to isolation until:

  • Their fever is less than 99.9 F or 37.7 C without the use of fever-reducing medications and
  • Improvement in respiratory symptoms (e.g., cough, shortness of breath) and
  • Negative results (of an FDA Emergency Use Authorized molecular assay for COVID-19) from at least two consecutive nasopharyngeal swab specimens collected ≥24 hours apart (total of two negative specimens).

If test results are negative, stay in isolation until:

  • At least 3 days (72 hours) have passed since recovery (recovery defined as fever less than 99.9 F or 37.7 C without the use of fever-reducing medications and improvement in respiratory symptoms, e.g., cough, shortness of breath) and
  • At least 7 days have passed since symptoms first appeared

3. Where are crew members with the exposure to a positive COVID-19 patient quarantined?

It is important to identify where members will be quarantined if they’ve been exposed to a positive COVID-19 patient or isolated if the members test positive for COVID-19. Locations should be identified for these purposes if an outbreak occurs.

Members can be quarantined at home for 14 days with family members occupying the same residence provided that members avoid close contact with family members and maintain a 6-foot distance, self-monitor for any of the COVID-19 symptoms, practice and maintain personal hygiene (e.g., constant handwashing), avoid public contact and cooperate with local and state health departments.

If you’ve been exposed, you should make appropriate notifications and document the event in accordance to your department’s exposure control plan.

4. Is a medical facility required to notify a designated officer in the fire department that members were exposed after treating or transporting a COVID-19 positive patient in accordance with the federal Ryan White Act? (NEW)

On March 27, 2020, the CDC/NIOSH updated the Ryan White Act to include COVID-19. The Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) has approved this change. Hospitals are now mandated to notify emergency response personnel of any exposure to a positive COVID-19 patient.

Also, on March 24, 2020, the Office for Civil Rights (OCR) at DHHS issued guidance on how covered entities may disclose protected health information (PHI) about an individual who has been infected with or exposed to COVID-19 to law enforcement, fire fighters, paramedics, other first responders and public health authorities in compliance with the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996 (HIPAA) Privacy Rule.

The guidance explains the circumstances under which a covered entity may disclose PHI, such as the name or other identifying information about individuals, without their HIPAA authorization and provides examples, including:

  • When needed to provide treatment
  • When required by law
  • When first responders may be at risk for an infection
  • When disclosure is necessary to prevent or lessen a serious and imminent threat

This guidance clarifies the regulatory permissions that covered entities may use to disclose PHI to first responders and others so they can take extra precautions or use personal protective equipment. The guidance also includes a reminder that, in general, covered entities must make reasonable efforts to limit the PHI used or disclosed to that which is the minimum necessary to accomplish the purpose for the disclosure.

5. What is SARS-CoV-2? (NEW)

Coronavirus is a family of viruses that can be contracted by humans and animals. The three types of coronavirus humans can get from animals are Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS-CoV), Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS-CoV) and the new Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome Coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2). SARS-CoV-2 is the virus that became the Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19). Ultimately, reports that identify SARS-CoV-2 can also be applied to COVID-19.

6. My department has a limited supply and inventory of N95 respirators, exam gloves, protective eyewear and impervious gowns. Does the IAFF have a tool or recommendation on best practices to project the use of PPE for the upcoming days and weeks? (NEW)

The CDC has posted a PPE Strategy Burn Calculator to assist departments in tracking PPE usage for the next few weeks to assist with the logistics component of reordering PPE supplies for your department.

Health Information

1. Is there a vaccine for the COVID-19 virus?

Currently, there is no vaccine for the COVID-19 virus. However, if you have not had your influenza (flu) vaccine, you should strongly consider getting one, provided the vaccine is available in your area. Find the location and availability of the influenza vaccine in your area here: Find vaccine!

2. How can my members reduce their risk to a potentially positive COVID-19 patient?

In addition to enhancing dispatch protocols to include flu-like symptoms, such as fever, coughing and respiratory distress to 9-1-1 algorithms, providers must properly don and doff the required PPE, decontaminate equipment and vehicles, and implement department policy that requires limiting the number of members assessing, treating and transporting potentially positive COVID-19 patients.

3. What is the current treatment recommended for the COVID-19 virus should I test positive?

According to the CDC, there is no specific antiviral treatment recommended for COVID-19. Members with COVID-19 will receive supportive care to help relieve symptoms. For severe cases, treatment will include care to support vital organ functions.

4. What happens if I become symptomatic with some of the COVID-19 signs, such as fever or respiratory difficulty?

Comply with applicable requirements as instructed by your monitoring team (e.g., local health department, safety officer) when the quarantine was initiated. Additionally, testing for COVID-19 will likely be required. When possible, health department personnel will come to you to perform the testing for COVID-19, thus avoiding possible public contact.

5. Are all crew members treating or in proximity to the infected patient considered exposed with COVID-19?

No, only first responders who experienced a high-risk exposure should notify their department and be placed in quarantine for 14 days.

First responders who experienced a low-risk exposure should return to work and self-monitor for signs and symptoms, including taking their temperature and recording it twice a day. All exposures should be documented according to the department’s exposure control plan.

  • High-Risk Exposure – The first responder had a prolonged close contact exposure with a Person Under Investigation (PUI) or confirmed COVID-19 patient where neither the patient nor first responder was wearing a facemask or the first responder performed a high-risk procedure such as intubation, CPAP or nebulizer treatments without the full required Personal Protective Equipment (PPE), including a fluid-resistant gown, gloves, goggles and a N-95 or higher respirator.
  • Low-Risk Exposure – The first responder had a brief or prolonged interaction with a PUI or COVID-19 patient where the first responder wore the recommended PPE, donned and doffed the PPE correctly, properly decontaminated all reusable equipment and contact surfaces in vehicles, and washed hands and exposed skin with soap and warm water. Additional personnel not within 6-foot radius of patient but engaged on scene should be considered a low-risk exposure.

For more guidance, visit the CDC webpage.

6. How long can COVID-19 live outside the body on surfaces?

Because COVID-19 is a virus, it requires a host cell to reproduce. There are many variables to the survivability of the virus outside the body. The environment for the virus to survive must be just right. Disinfecting the apparatus, stretcher or equipment after exposure to a potential or confirmed positive patient requires the member to wear the appropriate PPE and use the recommended bleach solution, antiseptic wipes or 65 percent or higher alcohol-based cleanser to eliminate any possible virus survivability.

7. How do I reduce exposure to COVID-19 around the fire station?

Some best practices to prevent exposure to COVID-19 include washing your hands, not touching your face and avoiding contact with someone you believe is sick without wearing proper PPE. In addition to those practices, you should:

  • Shower before leaving work
  • Change into clean civilian clothes before heading home
  • Don’t bring station uniforms and work shoes home
  • Have contaminated or potentially contaminated clothing laundered at work
  • Maintain social distancing on duty and off duty

8. Does Ibuprofen make COVID-19 symptoms worse?

Currently, there is no scientific evidence establishing a link between ibuprofen and worsening of COVID‑19. Based on currently available information, the World Health Organization (WHO) does not recommend against the use of ibuprofen. After consulting with physicians treating COVID-19 patients, WHO identified that there have not been any reports of negative effects of ibuprofen, beyond the usual known side effects that limit its use in certain populations.

9. As an affiliate leader, I’m getting push back from my fire chief regarding the IAFF’s temperature threshold (99.9 F or 37.7 C) for self-monitoring and return-to-work procedures. Is the temperature recommended consistent with CDC guidelines? (NEW)

According to the CDC, fever is currently defined as “measured temperature >100.00F or subjective fever” under “III. Recommendations for Monitoring Based on COVID-19 Exposure Risk.”

The IAFF’s temperature recommendation is greater than 99.9 F or 37.7 C due for members who fall into the two most vulnerable populations: the elderly and people with underlying health conditions. We’ve made this decision to lower the temperature recommendation to protect these groups per Dr. Allan Morrison.

10. The FDA recently approved a rapid COVID-19 test with results available within 45 minutes. I understand there are other rapid tests being developed outside the U.S. as well. Is the IAFF advocating to have these rapid tests available? (NEW)

Our physicians at Johns Hopkins University, along with the IAFF consultants relating to infectious disease, have real concerns about the variation in sensitivity (true positive rate) and specificity (true negative rate) of the tests, especially since academic centers have developed or are developing in-house tests. Additionally, our physicians recommend waiting for more information.

The IAFF recommends that members and departments continue to follow the guidance of their local public health department regarding testing for COVID-19.

PPE Information

1. Will an N95 respirator protect me from COVID-19?

COVID-19 aerosols are generated as part of a sneeze or cough with a bimodal size distribution of 72.0 µm and 386 µm.1 As the droplet travels in air, its size is reduced and it becomes more difficult for the particle to carry the virus, possibly due to shielding by organic materials.2  Zhu, N. et al. recently reported in the New England Journal of Medicine that the COVID-19 particles ranged in size from 60 to 140 nm.3  This is in the range of past studies which demonstrated Corona Viruses ranging in size from 80-90 nm.4 Does this mean that the COVID-19 particles will penetrate a NIOSH-approved N95? NIOSH requires that N95 respirators be capable of removing at least 95 percent of 0.3-micron particles. Rengasamy et al evaluated eight models of respirators meeting NIOSH N95 approval (CE-marked P2) and NIOSH P100 (CE-marked P3) approval for their capability against nanoparticles.5

The results showed that the N95 and P100 respirators approved by NIOSH and CE-marked P2 and P3 filtering face piece respirators are suitable protection devices for the COVID-19 response.


1Zhuyang, H., Wenguo, W., and Huang, Q.Y. Particle Size Distribution of Droplets Exhaled by Sneeze. (2013) Journal of Royal Society Interface, 10(88): 2013-0560.

2Zuo, Z. et al. Association of Airborne Virus Infectivity and Survivability with its Carrier Particle Size. (2013) Aerosol Science and Technology, 47: 373-382.

3Zhu, N. A Novel Corona Virus from Patients with Pneumonia in China. (2019) New England J of Med, 382 (8): 727-733.

4Gui, M. et al. Electron microscopy studies of the coronavirus ribonucleoprotein complex. (2017) Protein Cell, 8(3): 219-224.

5Rengasamy, S., Elmer, B.C., and Shaffer, R.E.  Comparison of Nanoparticle Filtration Performance of NIOSH-approved and CE-Marked Particulate Filtering Facepiece Respirators. The Annals of Occupational Hygiene, Volume 53, Issue 2, March 2009, Pages 117-128.

2. What OSHA standard should my fire department be complying with as it relates to the N95 NIOSH-approved respirator and respirator fit testing?

3. When stockpiles and caches of expired N95 respirators are made available, will the expired respirators afford me protection against the COVID-19 virus?

Yes, the CDC/NIOSH have deemed the expired respirators safe to use in the field for protection against the COVID-19 virus. Prior to using, be sure to inspect the mask thoroughly for any discoloration and ensure the integrity of the straps. See the link for further information from the CDC – https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/release-stockpiled-N95.html

4. Can I use other NIOSH-approved respirators, such as a P95 or N100, to protect me from the COVID-19 virus?

Yes, see the CDC webpage for further information. Remember, OSHA approved fit testing is required for your respirator worn in the field. Other options are to use your SCBA facepiece as an Air Purifying Respirator (APR) with the appropriate filters or cartridges (minimum of 95 percent efficiency).

5. My department is having a difficult time procuring and ordering N95 respirators, gloves and other PPE to be worn against the COVID-19. What can we do?

Check with other departments and medical facilities in your area to see if they will offer-up supplies in their inventory for your members. Additionally, check with local and state emergency management officials, the Urban Search and Rescue Teams (USAR) Cache and the release of Strategic National Stockpile (SNS) Supplies. State affiliate leaders should work directly with their governor’s office to have access to the various caches and the SNS supplies. Funding has been made available by the federal government to assist with COVID-19 education and prevention.

6. Due to limited PPE resources, how do I store my N95 provided it’s not contaminated?

We recommend placing the N95 in a paper bag for reuse: To maintain the integrity of the respirator, hang used respirators in a designated storage area or keep them in a clean, breathable container, such as a paper bag between uses. It is not recommended to modify the N95 respirator by placing any material within the respirator or over the respirator. Modification may negatively affect the performance of the respirator and could void the NIOSH approval.

If a paper bag is not feasible, other options include use of a Tupperware with holes poked into the lid for breathability or small cardboard boxes if they are strong enough. Any breathable container that would provide sufficient durability is good. Additionally, if you choose to use a Tupperware container, you can place it into a large deep pocket, fanny pack (if breathable), a mesh bag or add a carbineer clip so that you may have the respirator with you and readily available.

7. How many times can a N95 mask be used after the first initial use if there is a shortage of masks? (NEW)

Manufacturers should provide guidance on how long the respirator can last under circumstances of either extended use or limited reuse; however, general guidance from CDC based on research is up to eight hours of continuous or intermittent use or up to five separate uses (as long as the respirator is still functional and not obviously damaged).

Extended use refers to wearing the same N95 respirator for up to eight hours for repeated close contact encounters with several patients without removing the respirator between patient encounters.

Reuse refers to the practice of using the same N95 respirator for multiple encounters with patients, but removing (doffing) after each encounter. The respirator stored in between encounters is to be put on again (donned) prior to the next encounter with a patient. Reusing a respirator is allowed except when it has been used in a high-risk activity (e.g., intubation, nebulizer treatments, contact with positive case).

For more information, visit the CDC website.

8. Will a sewn mask provide enough protection? (NEW)

Not all facemasks, and not all materials, are created equally. Wearing a homemade mask with standard fabrics will potentially minimize viral load inhaled by only 10 percent, compared to minimizing the viral load by 95 percent when using a N95. Wearing a homemade mask is potentially more dangerous than remaining at least 6 feet from any potentially contagious people.

The case AGAINST using homemade facemasks is strong:

  1. Most materials that people have access to at home adsorb biological fluids (versus repel them). When the biological materials are adsorbed and then held close to your breathing zone, you have a much higher chance of ingesting or inhaling virus titer.
  2. In comparison to the filtration efficiency of an N95 mask (0.12 percent of particles penetrate), a cotton T-shirt material would allow 90 percent of particles through (via penetration).
  3. Finally, there is no way to create a tight fit for the homemade masks. Therefore, expect that greater than 90 percent of particle will get through via a combination of penetration and movement around the material.

The case FOR the use of homemade masks is singular:

  1. If we reach Level 3 of this pandemic in regards to PPE (no supplies exist), then the CDC guidance is clear that the homemade masks would be used as overcovers for the N95 masks. This means that they are meant to keep the N95s clean from detritus, NOT from viral particles. This allow you to wear them longer. If masks are made, they should be made from body-fluid resistant materials, such as Gore-Tex, that allow breathability and a sense of fluid resistance.

Family Information

1. How can my family receive information about COVID-19?

Share with your family members both the IAFF and the CDC websites. The IAFF will continue updating their resource, including information for family members, to give more information about the virus while allaying fears.

The following FAQs were developed following a call with Johns Hopkins physicians and the Professional Firefighters Association of New Jersey (PFANJ) to address concerns around COVID-19. The IAFF is happy to assist with district, state or local calls.

1. Are diabetic and asthmatic members who are healthy and on medication still a high risk or have different complications?

Yes. It is very important to be compliant with medications and minimize risk of exposure to the extent possible.

2. What are the effects of the virus on children from newborn to teenager?

To date, symptoms appear to be milder in children and teenagers, and include fever, cough and shortness of breath. Infants are still considered a high-risk group as they would be for almost any infection.

3. What should we look for when dealing with the public? What's the usual order for presentation of symptoms? Fever, cough, then trouble breathing? Or can it present in different orders or with other symptoms altogether?

The most commonly reported symptoms are fever, cough and shortness of breath. There are also reports of individuals have presented with gastrointestinal symptoms (e.g., stomach upset, diarrhea, nausea) prior to the onset of respiratory symptoms.

4. Is this any more concerning then the regular flu for a healthy person or child/infant?

This is a difficult question. In general, for adults and possibly for children and infants, the answer is yes. We know many cases do not have symptoms, which is good. The issue is the disease spreads and a certain percentage – estimates are at around 20 percent – may require hospitalization, with roughly 5 percent requiring ICU support.

5. Is it better to stay at work and work several shifts versus going home every day after a shift and possibly infecting our families or our crew?

Not necessarily. This answer is dependent on your exposures and whether you have family members who are elderly or in other higher-risk groups.

6. Is there any data available about past patients’ age, race, gender, social standing, etc., that show higher or lower rates for certain people?

Data to date have focused on patients who have more severe disease that requires hospitalization or have worse outcomes. We know individuals over 60 and individuals with comorbid conditions tend to have a higher rate of death than individuals who are less than 60 years old or individuals who do not have certain comorbid conditions.

Veuillez noter qu’il s’agit d’une situation qui évolue rapidement, alors assurez-vous de consulter cette section régulièrement pour obtenir des mises à jour.

Où puis-je obtenir des renseignements sur le COVID-19 ou le Coronavirus?

Consultez les ressources de l’AIP sur le coronavirus et visitez le site Web suivant (en anglais) https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/index.html. Pour obtenir des directives sur les interventions des SMU, visitez le site Web suivant (en anglais) https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/hcp/guidance-for-ems.html. Assurez-vous de consulter régulièrement ces sites Web pour obtenir des renseignements mis à jour, ainsi que les recommandations en matière de protection personnelle.

Si les membres de mon équipe et moi-même sommes exposés à un patient confirmé comme étant atteint du COVID-19, un médicament contre le virus de la grippe comme le Tamiflu est-il recommandé?

À l’heure actuelle, les médicaments contre le virus de la grippe ne sont PAS recommandés par les Centres pour le contrôle et la prévention des maladies pour un pompier ou un membre du personnel des SMU exposé ou potentiellement exposé.

Où mon service d’incendie peut-il trouver des protocoles ou des algorithmes de répartition pour aider les membres à enfiler l’ÉPI approprié avant d’entrer sur les lieux où serait présent un patient potentiellement infecté par le COVID-19?

Consultez les directives mises à jour des Centres pour le contrôle et la prévention des maladies. Les centres de répartition devraient établir des lignes directrices sur le dépistage des appels pour identifier les patients ayant des symptômes semblables à ceux de la grippe, de la toux, de la fièvre et de l’essoufflement, afin qu’ils puissent prévenir les intervenants d’utiliser l’ÉPI recommandé pour une exposition potentielle au COVID-19. De plus, les centres de répartition devraient travailler avec leurs services locaux de santé publique pour identifier les personnes faisant l’objet d’une enquête et en quarantaine afin que les adresses puissent être signalées dans la répartition assistée par ordinateur (RAO) pour avertir les intervenants d’utiliser l’ÉPI recommandé.

Combien de jours dure actuellement la mise en quarantaine exigée par les Centres pour le contrôle et la prévention des maladies pour le personnel exposé à un patient atteint du COVID-19?

À l’heure actuelle, les Centres pour le contrôle et la prévention des maladies exigent que le personnel exposé à un patient atteint du COVID-19 soit mis en quarantaine pendant 14 jours après l’exposition. Les représentants de la santé recommandent que les individus exposés attendent l’arrivée de signes et de symptômes (fièvre, toux, difficultés respiratoires, etc.) avant de se faire tester. Si les résultats sont négatifs, restez en quarantaine pour les derniers 14 jours. Les membres montrant des signes ou des symptômes lors de la quarantaine devraient être testés. Les membres testés positifs devraient être mis en isolation.

Si les membres de mon équipe sont mis en quarantaine, en quoi est-ce différent de l’isolement?

La mise en quarantaine est une restriction des déplacements des personnes qui ont été exposées à un virus, mais qui n’ont pas de symptômes ni de diagnostic médical confirmé. L’isolement est utilisé pour séparer les personnes infectées qui ont une maladie transmissible de celles qui sont en bonne santé afin d’aider à arrêter la propagation de certaines maladies. Il est important d’identifier l’endroit où les membres seront mis en quarantaine s’ils ont été exposés à un patient testé positif au COVID-19 ou isolés si testés positifs pour le COVID-19. Les endroits devront être identifiés dans ce but si une épidémie se déclare.

Où les membres d’une équipe exposés à un patient atteint du COVID-19 sont-ils mis en quarantaine?

Les membres peuvent être mis en quarantaine à la maison pendant 14 jours avec les membres de leur famille occupant la même résidence, pourvu que les membres évitent les contacts étroits avec les membres de la famille et maintiennent une distance de deux mètres (six pieds), qu’ils surveillent l’arrivée de symptômes du COVID-19, qu’ils pratiquent et maintiennent une hygiène personnelle (par exemple : se laver constamment les mains), qu’ils évitent le contact avec le public et qu’ils collaborent avec les services de santé locaux et d’État.

Qu’arrive-t-il si je commence à présenter des symptômes du COVID-19, comme de la fièvre ou des difficultés respiratoires?

Respectez les exigences applicables selon les directives de votre équipe de surveillance (par exemple : le service de santé local, l’agent de sécurité) lorsque la quarantaine a débuté. De plus, il faudra probablement effectuer des tests pour le COVID-19. Dans la mesure du possible, le personnel du ministère de la Santé viendra à votre rencontre pour effectuer les tests pour le COVID-19, évitant ainsi la possibilité d’un contact avec le public.

Combien de jours puis-je prévoir avant de recevoir les résultats du test pour le COVID-19?

Le personnel doit s’attendre à un délai de 24 à 48 heures avant de recevoir les résultats du test pour le COVID-19.

Puis-je faire le test pour le COVID-19 si je suis asymptomatique?

Non, les recommandations actuelles ne s’adressent qu’aux patients qui présentent des signes du virus et des symptômes.

Si je choisis d’être mis en quarantaine à la maison avec ma famille, est-ce que je mets ma famille en danger?

Non, tant que vous évitez les contacts personnels et que vous êtes asymptomatique (aucun signe du virus). De plus, votre conjoint ou votre conjointe peut aller travailler ou avoir des contacts avec le public et vos enfants sont libres de fréquenter l’école et de participer à des activités parascolaires. La clé, c’est que vous êtes ASYMPTOMATIQUE.

Lorsque les membres d’une équipe doivent être mis en quarantaine, utilisent-ils nos propres congés personnels, comme des congés de maladie ou des vacances, ou sont-ils en congé administratif?

Les affiliés dans les États ou les provinces ayant des conventions collectives devraient les examiner attentivement avant qu’un événement nécessitant la mise en quarantaine de vos membres ne survienne. Si aucune convention collective n’est en place, les recommandations comprennent une réunion avec la direction, les directeurs des ressources humaines, les directeurs en matière d’indemnité d’accident de travail et d’autres décideurs avant qu’un incident lié au COVID-19 ne survienne. L’objectif de la réunion est de s’entendre sur un congé administratif si vos membres sont mis en quarantaine et d’allouer aux travailleurs une indemnité s’ils sont infectés. Assurez-vous que l’entente soit par écrit pour toutes les parties concernées. Les états n’ayant pas de négociation collective devraient aussi rencontrer leur employeur et les autres décideurs afin d’assurer que les membres puissent obtenir un congé administratif en cas de quarantaine et reçoivent une indemnité d’accident de travail en cas d’infection avec le COVID-19. Planifiez de rencontrer ou de rentrer en contact avec les départements de santé locaux et étatiques afin de discuter des politiques, des procédures et des précautions avant que le COVID-19 ne se propage à grande échelle.

Est-ce que tous les membres de l’équipe traitant le patient infecté ou se trouvant à proximité de celui-ci sont considérés comme exposés au COVID-19?

Non, seuls les membres qui se trouvent dans un périmètre de deux mètres (six pieds) ou qui sont exposés pendant une période prolongée à un patient atteint du COVID-19 dans une zone mal ventilée sont considérés comme étant exposés au COVID-19, en supposant que les membres de l’équipe ne portaient pas un ÉPI complet comme recommandé. Si l’ÉPI recommandé complet n’a pas été utilisé, une mise en quarantaine de 14 jours peut être nécessaire pour le personnel exposé. Les membres de l’équipe qui utilisent l’ÉPI recommandé complet (par exemple : un masque respiratoire, des protecteurs oculaires, des gants, une blouse) pendant qu’ils prennent soin d’un patient atteint du COVID-19 ou qu’ils sont en contact avec des sécrétions ou des excrétions d’un patient atteint du COVID-19 ne doivent pas être mis en quarantaine. Si vous avez été exposé, vous devriez le déclarer et documenter l’événement en fonction des protocoles du service d’incendie. Les services d’incendie devraient établir une politique limitant le nombre de membres qui répondent aux patients potentiellement atteints par le COVID-19. Pour plus de directives, visitez le site Web suivant (en anglais) https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/hcp/guidance-risk-assesment-hcp.html.

Combien de temps le COVID-19 peut-il vivre à l’extérieur du corps sur des surfaces?

Comme le COVID-19 est un virus, il lui faut une cellule hôte pour se reproduire. La survie du virus à l’extérieur du corps dépend de nombreuses variables. Le virus n’aime pas la lumière du soleil, la pluie ou les surfaces mouillées, le vent, et l’air chaud ou l’air froid. L’environnement doit être parfait pour la survie du virus. La désinfection de l’engin d’incendie, de la civière ou de l’équipement après l’exposition à un patient potentiellement atteint ou confirmé comme étant atteint nécessite que le membre porte l’ÉPI approprié et utilise la solution javellisée recommandée, des lingettes antiseptiques ou un nettoyant à base d’alcool contenant 65 % ou plus d’alcool pour éliminer toute possibilité de survie du virus.

Comment ma famille peut-elle recevoir des renseignements sur le COVID-19?

Partagez avec les membres de votre famille les sites Web de l’AIP et des Centres pour le contrôle et la prévention des maladies. L’AIP continuera de mettre à jour leurs ressources, notamment l’information destinée aux membres de la famille, afin de donner davantage d’informations sur le virus tout en apaisant les craintes.

A Message From General President Harold Schaitberger

Donning and Doffing

Signs and Symptoms

Awareness and Precautions PSA

Briefing at Legislative Conference

A Message From Your Fire Fighters and Paramedics

Risk Assessment for Potential Exposure

Updates (It's a Big Deal)

Self-Monitoring Preparation and Protection

Contact Us

Please email [email protected] if you have any questions or concerns about COVID-19 that this webpage does not address. We want to make sure we are providing as much information as possible to our membership.


Media Inquiries

Doug Stern
(513) 919-4311
[email protected]