Eleven firefighters in the City of New London are at home after testing positive for COVID-19, according to Chief Tom Curcio.
About two weeks ago a firefighter began developing symptoms while on duty at NLFD headquarters, Curcio said. The firefighter subsequently tested positive for COVID-19.
According to the chief, NLFD immediately sent all staff who were working with that individual home. Curcio said that the department then worked with the Ledge Light Health District to identify close contacts and determine who had to stay home.
Since then, 10 additional firefighters have tested positive for the virus. Some will be able to come back to work later this week.
"It is unfortunate," said Curcio, adding that he has a running list of the people who have tested positive and calls them every two days. "We run two ambulances. We are going to these calls everyday. It is stressful for everybody."
The department has been able to avoid any delays in service thanks to firefighters working overtime. Curcio said that all firefighters are getting tested every shift.
"Right now we are going everyday. Every shift goes to get tested. Unfortunately the tests don’t come back for two, two and a half days and we are finding some people have tested positive and they have worked, like, a 24 hour shift in between them," said Curcio. "They are bringing it home to their families and their family members are starting to get sick and testing positive as well."
According to the chief, about six family members of various firefighters have now tested positive.
This comes as the number of COVID-19 cases in the city remains high. New London is considered a 'red alert' town, according to the Department of Public Health.
According to Ledge Light Health District, cases continue to be traced back to social gatherings among family and friends. They have not seen much change in the numbers or behaviors of people. Community based transmission continues to drive the overall number of cases.
“I don’t expect based on the amount of virus that is in the community right now that we are going to turn this around quickly," said Mayor Michael Passero. "People have to keep working very, very hard to wear their masks, limit their contact to other people including family members and close friends, and to get tested."
This comes as New London public schools switched to distance learning this week while the school district works to identify close contacts of people who recently tested positive for COVID-19. All schools will be closed for in-person learning the week of Nov. 9 through Nov. 13, according to school officials.