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3 more Orange County Fire Authority employees contract coronavirus

3 more Orange County Fire Authority employees contract coronavirus

An additional three employees of the Orange County Fire Authority tested positive for the novel coronavirus Sunday, March 22, bringing the total number of people working for the agency who have been diagnosed with COVID-19 up to four.

Firefighters, paramedics and other personnel were notified in a memo issued shortly after authorities confirmed the latest cases Sunday evening, OCFA Capt. Jason Fairchild said. There were 125 people in Orange County diagnosed with COVID-19 as of Monday.

One of the newly-diagnosed employees worked with the first OCFA firefighter infected with the virus, Fairchild said. Officials have a strong suspicion that those two cases may be related.

All four Monday were off duty and were reporting only mild symptoms, and none were hospitalized, Fairchild said. Officials were optimistic the four employees, who were in isolation, would recover.

“I spoke to one of them today, and he said it is definitely a cough, and this is the kind of fever that he will remember, but nothing that he needed to go to a hospital for,” Fairchild said.

Fairchild declined to specify what roles the infected personnel served for the OCFA, or where they had been stationed.

The OCFA and other fire departments in Southern California have implemented procedures to prevent the spread of COVID-19 among first-responders in the field and their patients. Those practices have dramatically reduced the number of personnel who have had to take time away from work while under observation with flu-like symptoms, Fairchild said.

Most personnel with flu-like symptoms have tested negative for the new virus and returned to duty, Fairchild said.

All firefighters and paramedics are aware of the heightened possibility of exposure their jobs bring, and some are concerned, Fairchild said. However, most have remained enthusiastic about serving their communities.

Press Enterprise