CLINTON — Five Clinton firefighters, most working the same shift, have tested positive for COVID-19, Clinton city officials have confirmed.
City Administrator Matt Brooke said via email that Clinton Fire Chief Joel Atkinson has been talking with the Clinton County Department of Health, and MercyOne doctors and staff members, and the department is following all recommendations. Brooke said exposure has been traced to three different venues.
“They traced the spread to training, a housewarming function, and possible off-duty softball on Sunday night,” Brooke said via email. “They are going back to check EMS reports to confirm or deny linkage to patient contact where it may have originated.”
Atkinson said many of the firefighters who tested positive worked the same time frame.
“We work 24-hour shifts,” Atkinson said. “And four of them were on the same shift.”
Clinton’s fire chief said while five of his firefighters are out, the department is currently backfilling to its minimum staffing of 11 per shift by having firefighters work overtime.
Atkinson said all of the firefighters are wearing masks and practicing social distancing. Additionally, he said they have sanitized the fire station and are continuing to take the necessary precautions to ensure a safe working environment. He said the overall morale of his department is high; they are just being more cautious.
“Well, we’re just taking it in stride,” Atkinson said. “And everybody is working together to try and stop the spread of the virus within the station. So, we’re doing extra training and those types of things. I haven’t seen much change in the mood. They’re doing good. They are just trying to take care of themselves and our main goal is to continue doing our public service and serving the community and we’re still on the street doing that.”
This is not the first time the city of Clinton dealt with the coronavirus from within. Back in April, Clinton Police Capt. Joe Raaymakers announced on Facebook that he was recovering from COVID-19. At that time, he said he was initially in denial about having the virus. He said fighting COVID-19 was an uphill battle, and that simple tasks, such as getting dressed, were difficult when he was sick.
Brooke said the city is going to continue to reinforce mask wearing in all departments (public areas) and when working with the public.
Additionally, Brooke said Mayor Scott Maddasion is emphasizing the use of Microsoft Teams for all commission and board meetings. He said the Clinton City Council meeting will remain on Microsoft Teams but will still offer limited seating. He said the mayor wants to ensure those who are unable to access online or via phone will be provided a seat or place in person at the meetings.