Firefighters run into challenges providing testing for seniors

VIDEO: Seattle firefighters deploying mobile teams to test for COVID-19

SEATTLE — The coronavirus pandemic has dramatically changed how many people do their jobs, and what jobs need to be done. Our first responders are on the front lines of these changes.

The Seattle Fire Department has taken on a new life-saving role: mobile testing for every worker and resident at every long-term care facility in the city.

“We know what happens when we lack adequate testing and the ability to intervene in growing infections in other vulnerable communities. We cannot repeat the mistakes of the federal government to limit testing early in the pandemic,” Mayor Durkan said.

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The Seattle Fire Department Mobile Assessment Teams was deployed to facilities starting mid-April. First responders have conducted more than 500 tests so far, according to Mayor Durkan.

Seattle Fire Chief Harold Scoggins says his department’s goal is to help the community any way it can. However, he says crews are running into challenges.

“What we see is there’s not enough test kits, there’s not enough PPE and there’s not enough people to do this work,” Chief Scoggins says, “It slows the rhythm when we run out of test kits. There needs to be access for everyone.”

Mayor Durkan says wide-scale testing and contact tracing is lacking in Seattle.

“Every resident deserves a test, especially in our communities of color that have been disproportionately impacted by this pandemic, yet our federal government has not taken the steps necessary or used the power it has to ensure adequate nationwide testing,” she said.