TURLOCK, Calif. (KTXL) – A coronavirus outbreak at the Turlock Fire Department has 10 of the department’s 42 firefighters quarantining at home.
“Sunday morning, prior to reporting to their shift, we have two firefighters call in sick exhibiting symptoms related to COVID-19,” said Turlock Fire Department’s Interim Fire Chief Gary Carlson.
Carlson said on Sunday those two tested positive and that by Thursday eight others had as well.
“Out of the 10 firefighters, I believe four of them are asymptomatic, have no symptoms at all. They wouldn’t have known they had it had they not been directed to get tested,” Carlson explained. “The other six all have symptoms that are very minor. One of them has a little more pronounced symptoms but, overall, every one of them is doing very well.”
Carlson also told FOX40 the department is working with public health officials on contact tracing and said the positive cases have come from two firehouses on the same shift.
“We go to multiple COVID-related calls every day. Stations work together on some of these calls, so it’s just gonna be hard to narrow down to any one particular emergency incident,” Carlson said.
This cluster comes at a time when the fire department was already down multiple firefighters, who had recently resigned to work at other departments.
“The other firefighters are doing an amazing job of stepping up, working extra shifts, canceling their vacations,” Carlson said. “We are still in full strength. None of our stations have been impacted, we still have all four stations open and operating.”
The entire department is getting tested. So far, 24 firefighters have tested negative and no new cases have been reported in 24 hours.
“All the firefighters that are on duty today have tested negative. They are 100% fit and ready to respond to all the emergencies that we may encounter,” Carlson told FOX40.
Carlson said he wants the community to know that despite their risk of exposure, they will continue to answer every call.
“Your fire department is enacting every protocol we can to not only keep ourselves safe but, obviously, the community safe,” he said.