3 Fernandina Beach firefighters quarantined after transporting 2 COVID-19 patients

YULEE, Fla. – Three Fernandina Beach Fire Department firefighters will be quarantined for 14 days after they transported a patient to the hospital who turned out to test positive for coronavirus, the county’s emergency management director announced Thursday.

The firefighters are being monitored for any symptoms of the potentially deadly virus.

A second rescue team, from Nassau County Fire Rescue, was notified they transported another patient who turned out to have COVID-19. However, those rescuers were not believed to be directly exposed and were not put into quarantine.

Greg Foster, Nassau County’s director of emergency management, said the two hospital transports occurred within 24 hours and the patients were confirmed to have COVID-19 after they were admitted.

According to the Florida Department of Health Thursday morning, there were 14 people in Nassau County who have tested positive but only one in the hospital. Foster said Thursday afternoon that there now 16 positive cases in the county.

Foster said the county has changed protocols to respond to the threat to employees from the virus and people who call first responders for help who suspect they might have coronavirus are asked to let the dispatcher know upfront so those responding can use the personal protective equipment.

Firefighters and rescue personnel are provided facemasks, gowns and other PPE.

“Throughout this crisis, we’ve identified changes in protocol that would assist in protecting the first responders that are responding to these calls and we are implementing those,” Foster said.

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