Anchorage Fire Department responded to coronavirus patient; Three staffers are now self-monitoring at home

Anchorage Fire Department Fire Engine (Wesley Early, Alaska Public Media)

Update, Saturday:

The City of Fairbanks announced on Saturday that its employee’s test results came back negative for COVID-19. Employees sent home on Friday were clear to return to work.

Original story:

Three members of the Anchorage Fire Department are at home, monitoring themselves for symptoms, after they responded to Alaska’s only confirmed coronavirus case.

An emailed press release from the Anchorage Emergency Operations Center says the fire department personnel responded to the call on Wednesday. It did not provide any other details about the contact.

The state’s chief medical officer, Anne Zink, said Thursday that a man who arrived at the Anchorage airport from overseas had tested positive for the virus. She said he notified authorities he was ill and sought help at Alaska Regional Hospital emergency room. She said he arrived within the prior day or two and isolated himself from contact with others in Anchorage. Zink later clarified the man was a cargo pilot.

The city press release says the Anchorage Health Department will call the three fire department members twice a day to ask about symptoms.

“If it is determined they need to be tested, (health department) staff will go to their home, in personal protective equipment, and collect a sample to be tested,” the release says.

Meanwhile, the City of Fairbanks announced Friday that one of the employees at its fire department is being tested for COVID-19. The employee, who recently traveled out of state, became sick at work, said a statement from the city.

“This employee was displaying some of the symptoms that are consistent with COVID-19 and has recently returned from an area that has been hit hard with the virus,” it said.

The employee’s test results will be known on Saturday, the city said.

“In an abundance of caution, the entire shift has been sent home to be quarantined until the results are known, the department will be undergoing extra cleaning, and mutual aid departments will be covering our fire/EMS calls until we get other FFD personnel in to cover the shift,” it said.

The city said all employees returning from out of state will now be asked to remain in quarantine for 14 days after their return.

3/13/20 Press Release – COVID-19

Posted by City of Fairbanks Fire Department on Friday, March 13, 2020

Alaska Public Media’s Tegan Hanlon and Liz Ruskin contributed to this report.

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