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The University of New Haven to Provide Housing for First Responders; New Haven Officer and Firefighter Test Positive

The quick decision came over the weekend from the University of New Haven.

NEW HAVEN, Conn. — Mayor Justin Elicker announced two first responders in the city of New Haven have tested positive for COVID-19. They are a part of 72 confirmed cases in the city. 

A number of other first responders are awaiting test results to see if they have COVID-19. They are at home self-monitoring while they wait for results but soon they will have another place to stay.

"It took no time to say yes," said Doug Whiting. 

The quick decision came over the weekend from the University of New Haven. The school that takes pride in training many of the first responders who’ve entered the line of duty will be housing some.

"In a sense, it will be a coming home for some of them," said Whiting, the Associate Vice President of Marketing and Communication. 

UNH is offering the city of New Haven and West Haven around 250 dorm rooms for first responders trying to self-isolate away from their families if they so choose. Whiting says rooms will be ready in a day or two.

"They will all be living in single rooms actually single suits," said Whiting. "They will have their own restroom facilities, their own kitchens, so the risk of exposing others in the environment is minimal."

New Haven police and fire each had a member of their force test positive for COVID-19. Both are at home recovering. Their departments have contacted members who may have been exposed.

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"That’s probably the most important aspect of the plan is to make sure that people are quarantining and we’re identifying them early," said Chief of Police Tony Reyes. 

The fire department has thirteen people off the force awaiting test results. Chief John Alston is frustrated with the slow process. Only four have come back, all negative.

"We are monitoring our folks every day twice a day and as we see changes in their physical well-being we are making the adjustments," said Chief Alston. 

Streamlining tests for first responders is in the works with Yale-New Haven Hospital according to a University spokesperson.

"We are in conversations with the hospital about how to speed up the process for the test and the hospital has been very amenable to us," said Mayor Justin Elicker. 

Yale University is willing to provide 300 beds for first responders if need be after initially denying the city's request. They are also willing to house medical personnel.

New Haven police and fire say they have plans in case a critical number of staff are out. If all internal options are exhausted, they will call on other towns for support.

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