3 San Diego Lifeguards Test Positive for COVID-19 But City Ends Quarantine

by on March 27, 2020 · 1 comment

in Ocean Beach, San Diego

OB Lifeguard during sunnier times. Photo by Annie Lane

By Edward Harris

Three San Diego Lifeguards have tested positive for COVID-19.

Up until March 26th, employees for the San Diego Lifeguard Service and San Diego Fire Dept. were quarantined if they were showing symptoms or if they had been exposed to someone who had tested positive.

The City of San Diego and Fire Chief Colin Stowell have made a unilateral decision to end this practice.

They will no longer quarantine employees who worked in close contact with a person who tests positive, until the person exposed becomes symptomatic. This means that an infected employee, who we know was exposed to a person who is positive, could be walking around the workplace for days before showing symptoms.

While the rest of the nation is doing all they can to reduce exposure, the department is reducing logical safety standards.  This threatens not only the guards, but their families and the public as well.

Similar policies have been adopted by some hospitals because their exposure rate is very high and they are having staffing problems.

San Diego  Fire may also have staffing problems, but the San Diego Lifeguards do not, so there is no reason to be reckless. One policy for all is the wrong approach.

The county is testing public safety personnel and they provide results for most cases in 24 hours.

Fire and Police officers in New York and New Orleans are seeing high levels of cases in their ranks.  Some are contracting it from the public, but there is no doubt that they are also passing it among themselves by working closely with each other.

The Lifeguards must remain a healthy force that is ready when the beaches open.  We are currently unable to promote, hire or train the seasonal guards we rely on each summer.  Allowing the virus to spread within the service could cripple our ability to function when needed.

The Lifeguards have asked that we keep exposed employees in quarantine until they have been cleared by the county with a test.  This is a quick turnaround of one or two days and it will help prevent the spread amongst our ranks.  If this is not a reasonable request, was it reasonable to close the beaches?

Ed Harris is a lifeguard sergeant, union representative and former temporary City Councilmember for District 2.

{ 1 comment… read it below or add one }

sealintheSelkirks April 1, 2020 at 5:56 pm

Is this a test? Or is this a DUH moment for politicians that are behind all the decisions being made here?

I REALLY hope they listen to you, Ed.



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