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Cincinnati Mayor Declares State Of Emergency To Prevent Low Firefighter Staffing Due to COVID

a Cincinnati firetruck
Bill Rinehart

The city of Cincinnati said it has enough firefighters and first responders right now, but rising numbers of COVID-19 cases could present a problem. Mayor John Cranley has declared a state of emergency, ordering the city manager to take whatever action necessary to protect the public.

"I was briefed yesterday by the fire chief and the city manager about the fact that so many of our first responders are positive for COVID and/or required to quarantine because they're close to somebody with COVID, and that's having a real impact on staffing levels," the mayor said.

City employees must get a COVID vaccination or submit to regular testing. Cranley said more than 95% of the fire department is vaccinated.

Cranley said between COVID cases and holiday vacations, response time and readiness could be in jeopardy. He said the fire chief believes they have enough people in place through the holiday weekend for now.

"But if they have to, they can do mandatory overtime. They can do vacation cancelations, things like that," Cranely said. "They obviously want to limit the number of things they do like that, but we still have to put the citizens first."

Cranley said he consulted with mayor-elect Aftab Pureval, who agreed the emergency should be in place for 60 days, which would expire well after the beginning of his term.

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Rinehart has been a radio reporter since 1994 with positions in markets like Omaha and Lincoln, Nebraska; Sioux City, Iowa; Dayton, Ohio: and most recently as senior correspondent and anchor for Cincinnati’s WLW-AM.