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Curry to hire retired first responders to bolster local emergency crews

The Jacksonville City Council approved a bill to allow retired firefighters, correctional officers and police to resume their jobs Tuesday evening.

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. — Mayor Lenny Curry announced a plan to let retired first responders return to work as a stopgap measure during the COVID-19 crisis, which the Jacksonville City Council approved at Tuesday evening's virtual meeting.

The re-hires will allow former Jacksonville Sheriff’s Officers and correctional officers as well as retired Jacksonville Fire and Rescue Department employees to work for the city without jeopardizing their retirement or pension plans.

Curry's announcement came as JFRD said two additional firefighters have been sidelined by the novel cornavirus, bringing the total to 77.

Curry also clarified his Monday announcement extending his emergency declaration 30 days. He said some people misunderstood that as an extension of his stay at home order. Though he may at some point extend the stay at home directive, he said, the emergency declaration extension is required to give the city access to state resources and money.

Curry provided an update on the city’s loan partnership program with VyStar Credit Union, saying approximately 100 small businesses have been approved for $3 million in COVID-19 relief loans. He said another $20 million in loans is working its way through the process.

The mayor also gave individual shoutouts to local people he said were serving as “helpers,” including a child artist who drew inspirational chalk messages outside a hospital, and liquor producer Bacardi for shifting its manufacturing plant to making hand sanitizer.

“These are people who are helpers, and there are so many of you out there, thank you.”

Curry has invited student journalists to participate in his last two media availabilities. Today, he commiserated with a student from Mamie Agnes Jones Elementary, asking him if he missed school and how he was holding up.

“I think we will come out of this with more appreciation for each other," Curry commented, "including our faults that we have."

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