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City commissioner suggests letting first responders volunteer to catch coronavirus so they might develop immunity

He termed proposal as 'taking one for the team'

Image source: Miami Beach Commission Meeting video screenshot

Are you immune from the coronavirus once you've caught it? Some in the medical community don't seem quite sure at the moment.

"Coronaviruses aren't new; they've been around for a long, long time, and many species — not just humans — get them. So we know a fair amount about coronaviruses in general," Dr. Stephen Gluckman, an infectious diseases physician at Penn Medicine and the medical director of Penn Global Medicine, told the Huffington Post. "For the most part, the feeling is once you've had a specific coronavirus, you are immune. We don't have enough data to say that with this coronavirus, but it is likely."

A novel idea

Miami Beach Commissioner Ricky Arriola isn't sure, either, and asked that very question at an emergency meeting Friday, the Miami New Times reported. But he also proposed what he termed a "dangerous but bold" idea to combat the pandemic that's turning more than a few heads.

Arriola said the city should consider allowing its first responders to voluntarily contract the coronavirus so they can develop antibodies to the disease.

He termed it "taking one for the team," that the process would be "like a chickenpox," and that "it is our job to think boldly, and we've got to start thinking about this."

Arriola proposed his idea after Miami Beach Mayor Dan Gelber said he's concerned that the city's first responders might unknowingly spread the virus to residents and one another, the New Times reported.

"Frankly, if I had one message to send out to other people right now in government, at other levels of government, I'd say we desperately need to be able to test as much as we want to test and as often as we can test," Gelber said, the paper noted. "We are this close to losing a lot of our first responders, and I don't want to sound like the sky is falling, but that is something that could happen at any moment, and if it does, I think we'd be in a terrible place."

What else did Arriola say?

The New Times interviewed Arriola later about his proposal, and while he's still in favor of looking at it, he wouldn't want to move forward until medical experts offer guidance.

"I'm trying to be forward-looking and ask tough questions because if you don't and this thing catches you by surprise, society could shut down," he told the paper.

Arriola shuddered at the thought of losing large numbers of first responders all at once, the New Times said.

"What are we gonna do in the event that our first responders start getting either exposure to the virus or catch the virus, and we lose 25 percent, 50 percent of our first responders? If we're in a state of curfew or martial law, and we have 50 percent of our first responders, what do we do?" Arriola asked.

Therefore he said it might be a good idea to expose willing first responders to the virus in a controlled setting with medical supervision, the paper said — and he'd be willing to join them.

"It's a matter of, 'Do you want to just randomly get it, or do you want to control when you get it?'" he told the New Times. "Does it make sense to do this in a controlled, safe environment so they have immunity?"

'Disgusting and dangerous remarks'

The National Fraternal Order of Police pushed back hard against Arriola's proposal over the weekend.

"As we have a police officer in Texas in critical condition, fighting for his life, from contracting the coronavirus, City of Miami Beach Commissioner Ricky Arriola suggests we purposely infect first responders with the virus," the group noted on a Facebook post.

"Let us assure you," the group's post continued, "there is nothing bold about intentionally infecting human beings with a pandemic just because of who they are. Police officers 'take one for the team every day, commissioner. Purposely harming us and our families with your idiotic idea is not what anyone expects of our elected officials. The entire first responder community deserves an apology for your disgusting and dangerous remarks."

(H/T: Blue Lives Matter)

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