First responder deaths related to COVID-19 are up according to several sources. The U.S. Fire Administration (USFA) reports 18* confirmed on-duty firefighter deaths attributed to COVID-19, making it the leading cause of death so far this year.
The Officer Down Memorial Page and the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial Fund have recorded more COVID-19-related law enforcement deaths than those attributed to gun violence, vehicle-related and all other causes combined in 2020. Both list about 100 law enforcement deaths from COVID-19. These law enforcement cases are confirmed as work-related and Officer Down is verifying another 150 deaths at this time.
According to a survey of first responders, firefighters are the group least likely to wear masks in buildings despite irrefutable evidence showing their efficacy.
All first responders need to take the necessary recommended precautions to reduce exposures and help prevent the spread of the coronavirus. EMS.gov, the USFA and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention offer recommendations to help first responders perform safely.
Public Safety Officers’ Benefits
COVID-19-related first responder deaths are considered line-of-duty deaths under the Public Safety Officers’ Benefits Program. Legislation passed in August established a statutory presumption for first responders who die from, or are disabled by complications related to, COVID-19. Prior to August, suspected cases were required to have proof that exposure occurred during their work duties.
* 18 deaths reported as of Sept. 11, 2020.