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Calif. firefighter tests positive for coronavirus

Officials say the Alameda firefighter is being quarantined outside the county and all fire stations will remain open


An Alameda firefighter has tested positive for COVID-19, officials said Wednesday. The firefighter is being quarantined outside Alameda County.

Photo/Alameda Fire Department Facebook

Peter Hegarty
East Bay Times

ALAMEDA, Calif. — News that an Alameda firefighter is being quarantined after having tested positive for coronavirus is making some Island residents nervous.

“It’s scary,” Mike Nguyen, 22, said as he walked past Alameda Fire Department’s Station 1 on Encinal Avenue, which also houses the department’s administrative offices. “No one wants to get sick. But it just shows you how this thing is spreading, and it’s getting worse.”

The firefighter is being quarantined somewhere outside Alameda County, but city officials did not offer any details or divulge which station the person worked at.

It was not immediately clear how the firefighter contracted the virus or whether the individual showed symptoms while on duty or exposed other first responders.

“We are taking this very seriously and we want to make sure all residents and businesses are safe,” Vice Mayor John Knox White said Wednesday.

Alameda spokeswoman Sarah Henry said the city is increasing the frequency and level of cleaning at city buildings, including fire stations.

In addition, Alameda is canceling or postponing large city-sponsored events and encouraging other health care actions to prevent the spread of coronavirus, also known as COVID-19, Henry said.

Alameda resident Jaime Gonzalez, 27, said Wednesday he hopes the virus was quickly contained on the Island.

“In some ways, I think there’s a lot of hype about it,” Gonzalez said. “But I also don’t want to get it, especially when I hear about people dying from it.”

In declining to say where the firefighter was stationed, City Manager Eric Levitt cited confidentially rules about releasing someone’s health information and the need to protect that person’s privacy.

Led by Chief Edmond Rodriguez, the Alameda Fire Department has about 117 employees, six divisions and four stations, according to the department’s website.

“The city is following guidelines from (the Centers of Disease Control and Prevention and the California Governor’s Office of Emergency Services) about procedures to implement after a COVID-19 diagnosis,” Mayor Marilyn Ezzy Ashcraft said in an email. “Community members can help slow the spread of this disease by practicing recommended hand hygiene measures, covering their cough with a tissue, and staying home if they feel sick.”

Levitt noted the city has not closed any fire stations.

“At this time, all fire stations are open,” he said in an interview. “We also have been doing extra cleaning at all the stations to make sure people are safe.”

The city has ordered 17 hand sanitizing stations to be placed across Alameda in a bid to curb the spread of the virus, Henry said. They’re similar to those placed outside portable toilets during fairs, concerts or other public events.


©2020 the Contra Costa Times (Walnut Creek, Calif.)