Naples Daily News
Published October 9, 2020
The five North Fire Control and Rescue District commissioners are backing their passion for protecting the community with their paychecks. The district is offering free COVID-19 antibody testing to the public, according to a Facebook post from the district, partially with the money donated by the commissioners: $500 each. The district hopes to find eligible candidates with COVID-19 antibodies who can donate plasma and ask people to register. The district’s fire commissioners are donating their salaries for October to help sponsor the event. The Southwest Florida Community Foundation, Woodward Pires & Lombardo, The North Collier Professional Firefighters and Case Benefits Consultants have also donated to ensure the event will be free to the public. Each of the five members of the fire commission agreed to help pay for the event, said Chris Lombardo, chairman of the fire commission. “This is such a good thing to do and it’s such a logical thing to do,” Lombardo said. “It’s what I love about our fire district. We have always led and put the interest of this community first.”
Researchers believe the antibody-rich blood plasma (convalescent plasma) from recovered Covid-19 patients is helpful in treating those currently infected with the virus by boosting the body’s ability to fight the virus, according to the fire district. Recently, the Food and Drug Administration issued an Emergency Use Authorization for this treatment.
Naples Community Hospital will have a blood mobile on-site for those who do not qualify to donate plasma, but still wish to support the effort by donating blood, according to the fire district. NCH Community Blood Center has recently issued an urgent need for all RH-negative blood and COVID-19 Convalescent Plasma, according to the fire district.
At the district’s antibody testing in August, nearly 500 people were tested and 100 units of whole blood were collected including 36 units of plasma, according to the fire district. “It was an incredible success for our Community Blood Bank and our community, and we are excited and grateful to be able to offer this testing again” said North Collier Fire Deputy Chief Jorge Aguilera in a press release. North Collier Fire Control and Rescue District is the only Fire Department in Florida to have entered into a Public/Private Partnership to provide free Antibody Testing to the public, according to the district. “It just shows you how this community pulls together when we are faced with a challenge like this,” Lombardo said. “It’s about our passion to protect our community.”