COVID-19 Antibody Testing Starts For 5,000 Arizona First Responders

Blue Cross Blue Shield of Arizona and Phoenix Suns Charities donation provides firefighters and law enforcement officers with access to testing to determine their exposure to COVID-19

Today, the Phoenix Law Enforcement Association (PLEA) and United Phoenix Fire Fighters Association began providing their members with testing for COVID-19 antibodies at three locations in the Phoenix metro area. The tests were made possible thanks to an $80,000 total donation from Blue Cross Blue Shield of Arizona and Phoenix Suns Charities, which was used to purchase 5,000 test kits for first responders. 

The antibody tests are designed to help determine if first responders have been exposed to COVID-19 and developed antibodies for the disease, even if they have not experienced any symptoms. The test results will give first responders yet another piece of critical information to help them understand more about their exposure and risks of spreading the virus.

“As first responders, we take a pledge to serve our communities, but we must also strive to protect our families when we come home after our shift,” said Phoenix Fire Chief Kara Kalkbrenner. “We are extremely grateful for the donation and the continued support from both Phoenix Suns Charities and Blue Cross Blue Shield of Arizona.”

The antibody tests results, together with other measures recommended by the Centers for Disease Control, will assist first responders in better protecting the workforce and Phoenix community. Additionally, first responders who have COVID-19 antibodies can choose to donate plasma or blood to those fighting COVID-19 infection within the Arizona community. 

“Firefighters and police officers put their lives on the line every day to protect our community,” said Pam Kehaly, president and CEO of Blue Cross Blue Shield of Arizona. “Today, Phoenix Suns Charities and Blue Cross Blue Shield of Arizona found one way to thank them for their service. The COVID-19 antibody testing will give our first responders peace of mind whether in the field or at home, so they can focus on doing what they do best – helping Arizonans.

Results from the antibody tests can be provided within minutes. The kits purchased through the donation from Blue Cross Blue Shield of Arizona and Phoenix Suns Charities will be used to test the 2,262 Phoenix Police Department members of PLEA and the 2,500 members of the United Phoenix Fire Fighters Association, which represents firefighters from Phoenix, Glendale, Tempe, Peoria, Chandler and Surprise. 

“We have a long-standing history of supporting first responders and it’s critical now more than ever to assist those on the frontlines risking their lives to serve others,” said Sarah Krahenbuhl, executive director for Phoenix Suns Charities. “We heard about their anxieties and uncertainties during this pandemic and, along with Blue Cross Blue Shield of Arizona, immediately stepped in to help. Throughout the duration of this crisis we will continue to find ways to give back to the community that has shown us so much love and support.”

To learn more about how to support Phoenix-area first responders during the global pandemic, please visit the United Phoenix Firefighters Association at local493.org and PLEA at azplea.com.