CHATHAM – Two Chatham firefighters tested positive for COVID-19 following department-wide testing Monday.
All members of the department were tested, along with employees of the harbormaster department and Monomoy Regional School district, after the daughter and mother-in-law of a firefighter tested positive.
It did not appear that the two firefighters who tested positive were not connected to the cases that led to the testing, according to a press release issued by the town Wednesday afternoon. The firefighter who had contact with the initial positive individual had already tested negative.
A total of 45 people were tested, including 24 fire department staff members, two staff of the town's emergency operations center, 10 members of the harbormaster department and seven school staff members. All were negative except the two firefighters.
In response to the test results, the town announced five steps: Fire department personnel who tested positive are in isolation in accordance with state and federal guidelines; contact tracing of close contacts is underway by the Visiting Nurse Association; followup testing of fire department personnel will be done Saturday and Tuesday in line with protocols for essential workers remaining on the job; all shifts will be staffed to ensure adequate emergency response; and an outside firm will be brought in to deep clean and disinfect the fire station Thursday.
“We want our community to know that we are maintaining our staffing levels with no impact to our ability to respond to the needs of our community,” Fire Chief David DePasquale said in a statement. “Our firefighters and EOC team are on the front-lines of this pandemic every day, and we have and will continue to take every measure possible to ensure their safety and well-being. Their families and loved ones are an extension of our family and we are doing all we can to keep them safe and to protect the community we serve.”
Department facilities are already disinfected once a week, high touch surfaces are cleaned constantly, and all emergency vehicles are sanitized after each time they are used to ensure the safety of firefighters and residents, he said.
Town officials said earlier this week that two seasonal harbormaster department employees had tested positive after attending a non-work related event off Cape.
Students and staff who were in close contact or in classrooms with the Monomoy High School eighth grader who tested positive are expected to quarantine for 14 days. Officials could not say how many people that involved, but Superintendent of Schools Scott Carpenter said students and teachers in six classrooms were isolating out of “an abundance of caution.”
This is a developing story. Check back for updates.