JACKSONVILLE, Fla. — While many are working from home and practicing social distancing, amid COVID-19, law enforcement officers don’t have either of those options. This puts them at a higher risk of interacting with someone who could have COVID-19.
Jacksonville’s Fraternal Order of Police president, Steve Zona, along with other FOP presidents around the state sent letters to Gov. Ron Desantis asking that he use his authority to mandate that if any first responder contracts coronavirus, it be considered work-related.
Zona says the letter is not a criticism of DeSantis, they just want to see a uniform mandate to cover all first responders in the state. He said the Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office and mayor's office have been supportive in making sure their officers, bailiffs and first responders are covered in the event they contract COVID-19, but that has not been the case for law enforcement in other areas.
"Many of the agencies around the state are making their officers jump through hoops to be covered, for example, prove you had contact with a COVID-19 positive while you were working," he said. "I think we all know, we are not doctors or experts, but we’ve been watching and listening to the doctors and experts and many of the people we come into contact with may be asymptomatic."
Zona says officers know the risks that come with their profession, but they want to make sure when this pandemic is over, their medical bills and workers' compensation are covered in all agencies across the state.