City statement regarding positive COVID-19 tests
From: David Cowan, Assistant City Manager/Emergency Manager
As COVID-19 cases continue to surge throughout the state and country, City of Independence first responders have been impacted this week, reports Independence Assistant City Manager/Emergency Manager David Cowan.
According to Cowan, each staff member in the City’s Fire/EMS department will undergo Coronavirus testing today, after it was reported this morning that a firefighter has tested positive. The firefighter, who worked shifts earlier this week, has been quarantined, along with a second firefighter who worked in close proximity on the same shifts. All remaining staff in the department who test negative today will implement modified quarantine procedures. Under the modified quarantine, staff members are allowed to work but must wear full personal protective equipment (PPE) at all times. All staff will be monitored twice daily for symptoms, and the department’s work spaces will be deep cleaned around the clock, Cowan explained. Also, for the next 14 days, all staff members scheduled to work will undergo a COVID-19 test the day before their shift.
The firefighter who tested positive had contact with a limited number of patients with EMS, and the City is in the process of notifying those affected.
In an unrelated situation, earlier this week, an officer with the Independence Police Department also tested positive for COVID-19, resulting in the quarantine of six police officers and a modified quarantine in the Dispatch department, Cowan said.
“These circumstances have stretched our resources a bit,” Cowan said, “but we have made shift adjustments to ensure all services are still sufficiently covered with ample staff.”
In the event that several more staff members test positive, Cowan said, the City may have to enlist mutual aid from other area communities. Reciprocation of services with other departments is built into the City’s emergency management plan.
Cowan also noted that, while the Fire/EMS and Police work areas in City Hall are not generally accessed by the public, as a precaution the City will implement a deep cleaning and sanitization of the entire building. The City Water Department/Clerk’s area will remain open to the public. Safety precautions, such as glass partitions, already are in place in that area.
“We wish our team members a complete and speedy recovery, and we appreciate the community’s understanding as we deal with this situation,” Cowan said. “This only underscores the critical importance for every individual to exercise caution for the health of our community. Please wear a mask, practice distancing, avoid crowds and stay home if you are sick or exposed.”