South Florida First Responder Families Adapting To New Safety Norms At Home

Families turning to strict routines to defend against coronavirus

NBC Universal, Inc.

South Florida’s first responders are on the front lines against coronavirus, but their safety battle doesn’t end when they get home.

From separate entrances to separate living quarters, some have drastically changed their home lives to protect their families.

"It’s just living in a constant state of, like, you know ’what if?’ and ’what if?’ and worry,” said Stephanie Rivas.

Rivas and her husband Rudy both work in a hospital. They’re trying to protect themselves from infection, along with their 4-year-old son Xavier, and 8-month-old daughter, Madeline.

“We’re just doing the best we can, trying to clean like two, three, four times a day. Much more than our standard," Rivas said.

Capt. Nick Wohl has a similar routine. He has served through all kinds of disasters with Miami Fire Rescue, but nothing like this.

“I’ve secretly prayed that... this wouldn’t happen on my watch,” he said. “And it’s happened on our watch."

Wohl has transported multiple COVID-19 patients to the hospital in recent weeks. When he gets home from work, his kids know the drill.

"I can’t immediately give him a hug,” explained his 12-year-old daughter, Ella. She has to wait until he disinfects, “before I can give him a hug and like, a kiss.”

Ella and her brother Jake have to wait for hugs and kisses from their mom, Jessica, too. She’s a nurse.

“There’s been some unsettling moments where me and my wife have had to talk about... getting our life insurance, making sure that’s all up to date, making sure that our power of attorney and our wills are up to date,” said Wohl. “That’s a scary new norm we’re not used to thinking about.”

In southwest Miami-Dade, Cristina Guas disinfects her husband’s police equipment more than once a day.

"I had surgery for my lung back in December, so we’re being extra cautious,” she explained.

While she’s used to the risks her husband faces on the job, Cristina, like so many others, never expected this.

“You just don’t know,” she said. “Every day you don’t know. You don’t know if he’s ever gonna get the phone call... ‘someone was exposed, now you’re possibly exposed.’ So that’s the hardest part.”

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