WICHITA, Kan. (KSNW) – Many first responders are out with COVID-19, leaving emergency departments juggling what staff they do have.
The COVID-19 numbers are up for the delta and omicron variants.
“And you know it has gone up in recent weeks but not nearly what we saw in late 2020,” said Wichita Police Chief Gordon Ramsay. “Our officers are first responders, so they have been on the front end.”
Leaders from a local fire union, International Association of Fire Fighters (IAFF) #135, say firefighters are feeling the effect of COVID-19 taking out staff.
“I understand everybody is COVID tired. I get that,” said IAFF Local President Ted Bush. “I know that the fire department continues to try to staff these positions, but I mean, how bad is this going to get?”
According to Bush, when a firefighter is considered to be a close contact with a COVID-19 case, they are told to go home and isolate themselves. He also says some are being asked to come into work with a mask.
As the Sedgwick County Jail continues to need dozens more jailers, the sheriff says COVID-19 has hit again.
“We have several personnel that have come down with this variant of COVID, including pretty much the entire command staff of the Sedgwick County Sheriff’s office,” said Sedgwick County Sheriff Jeff Easter.
Easter says they are asking the public to be patient because of a juggling act with some staff.
As a result, the Offender Registration Unit’s fingerprinting services for people trying to get a concealed carry permit and people trying to apply for a job by the Sheriff’s Office will be on hold starting Wednesday through the end of the month.
“Right now, we’re stepping back from allowing the public to come into the Offender Registration Unit at this point,” said Easter.
Fire officials say staffing levels are still at a point where they are getting the job done, but the concern remains with numbers spiking.