The dangerous surge of the Delta variant is hitting first responders in the worst way. Two men, deputy Jody Hall and retired police officer Eddie Bounds, became the latest first responders to die due to COVID.
Our records show seven first responders in the area have died from COVID-19.
“This is just a whole other level of risk that comes on with these jobs that people are signing up for,” said Randy Wyse of the Jacksonville Association of Firefighters.
The Jacksonville Association of Firefighters says the public plays a major role in helping prevent such a high risk of spreading this virus.
Multiple agencies are mourning losses.
In the Jacksonville area, several first responders died from COVID-19 complications just this week.
On Saturday, a procession was held for Neptune Beach police officer Eddie Bounds.
He was a husband, father, and familiar face in a community he was proud to be a part of.
“Eddie was many things to many people,” the Neptune Beach Police Department said. “A husband, father, grandfather, public servant, coach, and dear friend to many. He was also the epitome of a beaches police officer. A legend. A true legacy left behind.”
Bounds was with the Neptune Beach police department for 10 years and worked with the Jacksonville Beach Police Department for 23 years.
After he retired, he went back to work as a civilian employee.
St. Johns County Sheriff’s deputy Jody Hull served with them for four years.
Hull worked with the Sheriff’s office for four years, and most recently served as Youth Resource deputy at St. Augustine High School.
He also served as a deputy in Putnam County.
“He was passionately dedicated to making a difference in the lives of the youth around him,” St. Johns County Sheriff Robert Hardwick said. “He was a valued member of our St. Johns County Sheriff’s office family and will be greatly missed.”
Earlier this week, Lt. Mario Moya with Jacksonville Fire Rescue also died from COVID.
Wyse said while firefighters have more of a heads-up coming into contact with COVID-19 positive patients, law enforcement doesn’t.
“We’re going to continue to look at our standard operating procedures, and, and maybe even PPE, and what levels we use and when we use it,” he said.
He says the public can help all first responders by getting vaccinated.
“And if you’re a little sick, you know, if you’re feeling bad, then you have an encounter with either Fire Rescue or any law enforcement,” Wyse said. “Let them know, ‘Hey, I’m not, you know, I feel bad’ or if you know, you’re COVID positive, just be upfront about it.”
The Fraternal Order of Police says statewide there’s been 39 COVID-19 line of duty deaths since the 19th.