46 Members of Chicago Fire Department Have Tested Positive for COVID-19

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Several dozen members of the Chicago Fire Department have tested positive for COVID-19, bringing the total number of cases in the department to 46.

Of those, nine employees have returned to duty as of Tuesday, according to department spokesman Larry Langford.

Another 18 department employees are currently quarantined after a confirmed exposure to the coronavirus, he said.

Langford could not say how many cases are firefighters, paramedics or civilian employees, or how many have been hospitalized.

The department announced Tuesday night that Chicago firefighter Mario Araujo died due to complications from the virus. Araujo, who served with CFD Truck Company 25 in Rogers Park, was a 17-year veteran of the department, according to officials.

When the department announced its first coronavirus case three weeks ago, Fire Commissioner Richard Ford II said CFD was taking measures to protect its members from the disease, including dedicating specific ambulances for patients with suspected COVID-19.

The department still has four ambulance dedicated for that purpose, Langford said.

For now, all paramedics responding to respiratory calls or suspected COVID-19 patients are dressing in personal protective equipment including an N-95 mask, face shield and gloves, Langford said.

Paramedics who use a CPAP breathing machine on a patient, regardless of the call involving COVID-19, are sleeping in separate quarters to minimize possible exposure.

Fire houses and ambulances are also undergoing thorough cleanings after contact with a coronavirus patient, he said.

Among other city first responders, the Chicago police announced Tuesday that 112 of its members have tested positive for COVID-19. Last week, Mayor Lori Lightfoot said a veteran undercover CPD officer died from the coronavirus.

In Illinois, there have been 13,549 total confirmed cases of COVID-19 and at least 380 deaths from the disease, state health officials announced Tuesday.

Copyright CHIST - SunTimes
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