Seven of 10 quarantined Salem firefighters have been returned to duty after three separate incidents of suspected COVID-19 exposure over the weekend.
The remaining three firefighters are quarantined at one of Salem’s satellite fire stations awaiting test results, but none are showing any symptoms of illness.
Salem Assistant Fire Chief Jeff Emanuelson said the duty crew and apparatus usually assigned to that station were relocated while the quarantine is in effect. He said the three affected firefighters were believed to be exposed to the virus after they transported a patient Monday to a hospital in Massachusetts.
Emanuelson declined to say which hospital, but Salem usually transports to Lawrence General Hospital in Lawrence, Mass. or Holy Family Hospital in Methuen, Mass.
He said they are awaiting the test results from the patient in Massachusetts. If they come back negative, the firefighters will be free to return to duty.
“We’re not anticipating that any of them will be sick,” Emanuelson said.
Two other firefighters were thought to be exposed to the coronavirus on Saturday and were immediately quarantined. Test results on the patient came back negative and the firefighters were released and returned to duty by Sunday.
The first five to be quarantined were part of a working group that included one firefighter who was ill and exhibiting symptoms consistent with COVID-19. Emaneulson said the firefighter was unaware he was sick when he came to work Friday, but had contact with four co-workers.
“His work group was exposed because they worked with him the whole day,” Emanuelson said.
Emanuelson said the firefighters were quarantined out of an abundance of caution. The test results for the sick firefighter came back negative and they were released as of Thursday morning.
So far, no Salem firefighters have tested positive for COVID-19.