Arlington Firefighters Raise Coronavirus Concerns After Case Is Confirmed

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An Arlington County firefighter tested positive for coronavirus this week and the union is concerned that colleagues were not told to quarantine. 

The firefighter tested positive for COVID-19 and was managing the illness at home with “the full support of family and the department,” the department announced Tuesday night. 

“The Arlington County Public Health Division has been involved with this case and has investigated any potential exposures to other people and patients who came in close contact with the individual,” a statement said. 

Other firefighters were in contact with the firefighter who tested positive but were not told to self-quarantine, union president Brian Lynch said. He worried about what the potential exposure could mean for others. 

“As a firefighter, you go to work and you understand you might not come home,” he said. “But for most members, they’ve never thought about it like they have now, that they could bring this virus home to their families.” 

The fire department said the county health department cleared each person who was in contact with the patient to return to work. Lynch said he believed that Centers for Disease Control and Prevention guidelines called for self-quarantining. 

“If there are guidelines we don’t know about, please tell us,” he said. “And if there is some sort of investigative method being used here, we want to know what is.”

The department is well-staffed and could meet service demands even if a few firefighters needed to self-quarantine, Lynch said. He wondered why the abundance of caution many of us are taking to avoid contracting the virus is not reflected by the county. 

The county health department did not respond to calls. 

The state announced eight new coronavirus cases in Arlington, bringing the county’s total to fifty-four. 

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