The Bloomingtonian

Bloomington firefighter tests positive for COVID-19/Coronavirus

A Bloomington Fire Department firefighter has tested positive for COVID-19-Coronavirus, according to a press release from the City of Bloomington.

The release says following CDC guidelines that three members of the BFD were recently quarantined after a potential or confirmed exposure after the department was notified March 23. One of them tested positive, and is experiencing mild symptoms, but expected to recover.

The release does not give other details about when the exposure occurred, or the nature of the situation when it happened, only when the department was notified. There is no information on the condition of the person who may have exposed the firefighters, or where it took place in the city.

The release says, “the BFD is currently reviewing records to identify members of the public with whom the firefighter may have interacted since being exposed. If any members of the public are identified, the department will follow CDC and Indiana Department of Health protocols to protect their health.”

The release also says, “the department implemented a thorough decontamination of the station, equipment, and apparatus with which the firefighter had had recent contact.  Upon displaying symptoms, the firefighter was tested for coronavirus, in accordance with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) guidelines, the positive result of which was returned today.”

The location of the station is not identified in the release.

Indiana currently has 1,232 confirmed positive cases, and has had 31 deaths. The number of cases in Monroe County are now 16.

Here is text from the release:

March 28, 2020

CDC Protocols Continue at Bloomington Fire Department After Confirmed Case of COVID-19    

Bloomington, Ind. – The Bloomington Fire Department (BFD) learned today that one of three firefighters recently quarantined after potential or confirmed exposure to the coronavirus has tested positive for COVID-19.  After the BFD was notified March 23 of the firefighter’s confirmed exposure, the firefighter was immediately isolated from the on-duty crews and placed on self-quarantine at home, and the department implemented a thorough decontamination of the station, equipment, and apparatus with which the firefighter had had recent contact.  Upon displaying symptoms, the firefighter was tested for coronavirus, in accordance with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) guidelines, the positive result of which was returned today. The firefighter has only experienced mild symptoms and is expected to make a full recovery and return to work after being cleared by a doctor.  

Since receiving the positive test result, the BFD has identified the colleagues with whom the firefighter came into contact since the possible point of exposure and is advising them to follow all CDC and Indiana Department of Health protocols.  Additionally, the BFD is currently reviewing records to identify members of the public with whom the firefighter may have interacted since being exposed. If any members of the public are identified, the department will follow CDC and Indiana Department of Health protocols to protect their health.  The additional employees who are currently self-quarantining at home continue to be asymptomatic. Pending medical clearance, all three are expected to return to work by April 7 .  

The BFD continues to implement CDC protocols in maintaining the health and safety of its employees and the community.  In addition to the general public health guidelines for physical distancing and hygiene, BFD protocols include increased personal protective equipment while providing service, distancing at shift changes, minimizing interactions among various stations, postponing public relations events, closing the fire stations to the public for non-emergency visits, separating crews to encourage physical distancing, and thorough disinfection of stations, equipment, and apparatus.  According to current CDC guidelines, healthcare providers and first responders are tested only if they are symptomatic, but guidelines are evolving as testing capacity is increasing.  

“Our department is committed to the safety of our residents and the firefighters who serve them,” said Bloomington Fire Chief Jason Moore.  “We are focused on adapting to this changing threat and making sure we are proactively managing the risks so we can continue to provide essential emergency services to our community.  Everyone in the community should continue to practice physical distancing, handwashing, and other CDC protocols to limit spread of COVID-19.”  

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