It started when a member of the York County Department of Fire and Life Safety disclosed that a “close acquaintance” tested positive for the coronavirus (COVID-19).
“Upon finding out about such, and out of an abundance of caution, that individual and all of their direct co-workers were immediately quarantined and sent for testing,” Paula Hersh, public affairs manager for York County, wrote in an email.
Friday, the department revealed 11 of their members have now tested positive.
The test results came back at various times but the first of such positive result was received on June 27, Hersh said.
The department consulted with the Virginia Department of Health and decided “to significantly expand testing of department members.”
To put that into perspective, the department has 148 full time employees — uniformed and non-uniformed.
“The department continues to work directly with the Virginia Department of Health on necessary steps for any additional testing and/or quarantine that may be warranted,” she wrote in the email. “At the present time most of the affected employees have either returned from quarantine or are expected to do so soon.”
The department posted an announcement about the positive cases via social media Thursday night, but did not include the number of positive results.
WYDaily had previously called Fire Chief Stephen Kopczynski about the social media at 5:03 p.m. on Thursday.
The fire department posted a statement on their Facebook page at 7:49 p.m. but did not respond to WYDaily until the next morning in an email at 8:23, and then in the afternoon.
“Although this situation has affected some members of our department, our services to the community have not been impacted,” according to the news release. “Our number one priority is to always ensure the health and safety of the public and our personnel that serve them.”
The fire department noted the COVID-19 cases are not “unexpected” since fire and emergency medical service personnel are at risk for exposure because of their job and there is more community testing.
The fire department also will continue to sanitize vehicles and equipment, making sure enough personal protective equipment is available and plans to have “extra testing” of its members.
“As the results come in, the numbers could change,” she said. “So you know as those come back…we want to make sure we had the most up to date information.”
“Since more testing is being conducted community wide, as well as within the department, an ‘uptick’ in positive results can be expected.”
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