Florida official faces backlash for suggesting first responders 'take one for the team' and get coronavirus to build immunity

Florida official faces backlash for suggesting first responders 'take one for the team' and get coronavirus to build immunity
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A Miami Beach commissioner’s suggestion that first responders voluntarily contract coronavirus to build immunity was met with backlash after a recording of the comments at an emergency city meeting circulated.

At the Friday meeting, Commissioner Ricky Arriola asked the audience if there were any doctors present, after which he suggested that in the event that surviving the virus leads to immunity, as with chickenpox, the city might be able to take advantage of that immunity, the South Florida Sun-Sentinel reported.

“Assuming you make it through,” Arriola said, first responders “voluntarily taking one for the team” could help solve the crisis, calling it a “dangerous but bold idea.”

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“It is our job to think boldly,” he added.

Arriola acknowledged in a statement that he had received some pushback for the comments, which circulated on several firefighters’ accounts, but he did not fully back away from the idea, saying that officials need to “prepare for horrible scenarios.”

“If my remarks offended any first responders, I apologize. You are the bravest among us — you run into burning buildings, take bullets, expose yourself to infectious diseases for a living,” he wrote. “All of this you do everyday to make our community safe! Thank you. With that said, it’s our job as policy makers and as first responders to ask difficult questions and prepare for horrible scenarios.”

Arriola later told the newspaper he envisioned his idea as taking place “in a controlled environment would they would have 24/7 medical attention so if they have a medical reaction we could take care of that.”

In a tweet, Arriola called the proposition "precisely the course of action being recommended by the chief scientist of the UK."