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Debunked: Coronavirus in WNY rumors

How EMTs are being cautious
Posted at 6:01 PM, Feb 17, 2020
and last updated 2020-03-02 12:51:09-05

AMHERST, N.Y. (WKBW) — While the coronavirus outbreak has the world on edge, there have been false rumors about cases in Western New York on social media. In response to the swirling rumors, the Erie County Department of Health released this statement:

There have been no reports of any cases of novel coronavirus in Erie County, including at the University at Buffalo.

"Public health is doing a great job of looking out for the community," said Bryan Brauner, CEO of Twin City Ambulance.

While there haven't been any coronavirus cases in WNY, he says his team of EMTs is ready to take all necessary precautions to protect themselves and others from possible exposure to the coronavirus.

"We would want to limit the amount of responders that have contact with that patient to limit potential infections and then we take standard precautions. We wear regular respiratory and droplet protection, so masks, gowns, gloves," Brauner said.

The precautions are taken if the call to dispatch meets certain criteria. Dispatchers talk with callers to find out if they've traveled to particular areas in China or been in contact with someone who has coronavirus within 14 days.

"If we have the information ahead of time, and we know this ahead of time, we will take precaution before even coming in contact with the patient," said Joe Lavey, an EMT and the logistics coordinator at Twin City Ambulance.

Lavey said they also have a spray used to disinfect the ambulances. It kills germs on surfaces and in the air.

"This is not new. It's so not new. The precautions are the same precautions we've been taking for flu. The same as they've been for the past 20 years," said Brauner.

While they are taking precautions against the coronavirus, they said they're more concerned about the flu.

"I'm honestly more worried about the flu than the coronavirus. The coronavirus is just the newest scare," Lavey said.

"Protecting all of our responders is incredibly important. Protecting them against coronavirus specifically is as important as the flu, or as anything we try to protect them against," Brauner said.