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Multiple HFD firefighters required to quarantine due to possible COVID-19 exposure

Union officials say eight firefighters have been placed in isolation.

HOUSTON — Editor's Note: Above videos is about a Harris County testing center for first responders and healthcare workers.

At least eight Houston firefighters are under mandated quarantine after possible exposure to the coronavirus, the Houston Professional Fire Fighters Association confirmed Sunday.

Four of the firefighters are being isolated at home, and the remaining four have been quarantined at a hotel because they weren't able to do so at home.

The hotel accommodations are being provided for by the city of Houston, which will continue to support the firefighters until further notice. 

A city representative said healthcare professionals monitor the firefighters daily for 14 days. If they do not develop symptoms, they will return to regular duty.

Officials are conducting an investigation to determine how these firefighters were exposed. 

All eight are considered medium/high-risk according to CDC guidelines, the rep said. That means the firefighters either had contact with a COVID-19 patient without proper gear or are likely to test positive themselves for the virus.

Currently, Houston Fire Chief Sam Pena and the mayor's office are working to have accommodations to help future personnel who may not be able to quarantine at home. They expect to finalize an agreement sometime this week, city officials said.

"The safety of our firefighters and their families is my primary concern. I personally secured a location for quarantine on behalf of the City. Health care professionals will actively monitor these four firefighters according to CDC guidelines until they are released back to work," Sam Peña Houston Fire Chief.

Nearly 200 firefighters are in self-imposed quarantine due to possible exposure, a union official said. Earlier in the week it was only 170.

Coronavirus symptoms

The symptoms of coronavirus can be similar to the flu or a bad cold. Symptoms include a fever, cough and shortness of breath, according to the Centers for Disease Control.

Most healthy people will have mild symptoms. A study of more than 72,000 patients by the Centers for Disease Control in China showed 80 percent of the cases there were mild.

But infections can cause pneumonia, severe acute respiratory syndrome, kidney failure and even death, according to the World Health Organization. Older people with underlying health conditions are most at risk.

The CDC believes symptoms may appear anywhere from two to 14 days after being exposed.