Nearly 70 firefighters for D.C. Fire and EMS have tested positive for the novel coronavirus, and many of them are back at work after recovering, fire officials said Wednesday.
Fire Chief Gregory Dean said in a letter to his department that four more firefighters had recently tested positive, bringing the total to 68 firefighters. Thirty-three of the firefighters have recovered and returned to full duty, he said.
The sick firefighters are in self-quarantine.
"Please continue to utilize the proper PPE on each medical call and patient contact to reduce your risk of exposure. The recent escalation in PPE for all EMS dispatches, regardless of call nature, is to keep you safe and help prevent the spread of the virus," Dean said in the letter.
Dean has urged firefighters not to come to work if they feel sick.
"If you were in contact with the infected members but have not been notified, you should contact our Infection Control Group to report your exposure or any suspected exposures," Dean said. "We ask that you continue to take this pandemic seriously."
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The first two members of the D.C. Fire and EMS Department to test positive for COVID-19 are partners, sources said.
“Any patients that they interacted with on those several days they were working have been contacted,” Mayor Muriel Bowser said on “The Today Show.”
The first firefighter who tested positive may have worked two shifts while showing symptoms, sources said.
It’s unclear if the firefighter caught the virus on the job or away from work. It’s also unclear when he reported the virus to the fire department.
Every member is being checked for “signs and symptoms of illness” when they arrive to work, and their temperatures are being taken before they are allowed into quarters, Dean previously said.