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6 firefighters test positive for COVID-19

In the past week all staff members of the Williamsport Bureau of Fire were tested for COVID-19. As of Monday, six staff members have tested positive and 27 staff members have tested negative for the virus.

According to a news release from the bureau, no members who have tested positive are currently working. The positive cases will follow guidance from the department medical director and the state Department of Health on return-to -work procedures.

The Bureau of Fire’s current practices for on-duty personnel have been in place since March, and are in accordance with the CDC guidelines, state Department of Health and the department’s medical director, the news release said.

The bureau is requiring masks to be used both in the fire station and when in public places where social distancing is not feasible. In-stations procedures have been modified to include mask use, sanitation procedures, and avoidance of interacting of personnel between shifts. The state Department of Health considers contact with a positive case within 6 feet and 10 or more minutes as a “high risk contact,” which the department’s staff have been educated on, as well as possible airborne issues for symptoms including coughing and sore throats. Responses to medical calls are to be completed using the correct personal protective equipment as determined by CDC guidelines. Modifications have been made regarding the number of personnel and the distancing from the patient.

There will be no reduction in medical care. The news release said citizens can expect to be provided the proper level of medical care.

When required, a predetermined decontamination location and process has been established for any county emergency service personnel. In the event of a high-risk contact leading to a potential exposure, a process has been implemented to address the exposure and, if required, quarantine guidelines will be followed.

The fire station is currently closed to all visitors. For employees and any approved visitors, wellness checks are performed including the taking of temperatures and assessment of any symptoms.

All employees have been tested and will be re-tested if required, the news release said. Any employee returning to work will have to meet the criteria determined by the state Department of Health and the Williamsport Bureau of Fire’s medical director.

“The Williamsport Bureau of Fire is, and has always been committed to providing a high level of service to those that live, work and travel through our city,” the news release said. “Our level of service has not decreased at any point through the pandemic, and we are dealing with the current situation as aggressively as possible to ensure that level of service continues.”

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