Five Manhattan firefighters have tested positive for the coronavirus, the Manhattan Fire Department announced Friday afternoon.
The five firefighters attended an unidentified event while off-duty. The firefighters are believed to have contracted the virus at this event, officials said. MFD learned Friday of the positive tests and immediately started an investigation.
“We are hopeful for a quick recovery for everyone affected by this virus, including our firefighters,” said Scott French, fire chief. “Unfortunately, this shows how quickly the virus can spread in certain situations and that no agency is immune from the impacts.”
Some of the firefighters are experiencing symptoms while others are asymptomatic, said Ryan Almes, deputy chief. None of the firefighters worked with symptoms at MFD, but three of the firefighters — who were all asymptomatic — worked at least once this week.
MFD is limiting interaction between firehouses to try to mitigate the spread of the virus as much as possible.
Officials said contact tracing is being completed to determine if other firefighters may have been exposed to asymptomatic co-workers.
The Riley County Health Department (RCHD) is also completing contact tracing to figure out if any of the five firefighters had contacts with the public. RCHD will notify members of the public if anyone is considered a close contact.
Employees who had close contact with any of the positive patients will be tested. They will follow Centers for Disease Control and Prevention guidelines in order to return to work, officials said.
Officials said they are not releasing personal information about the firefighters because of privacy purposes.
French said MFD has worked on contingency plans in the event of a potential outbreak situation since the start of the pandemic.
“We will continue to provide reliable fire and emergency services to our residents as we always have,” he said.