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East Greenwich Fire Dept. facing staff shortage; 8 out due to coronavirus


EAST GREENWICH, R.I. (WPRI) — The East Greenwich Fire Department is facing a staff shortage after one of its firefighters tested positive for the coronavirus.

Chief Bernard Patenaude says all of the department’s 34 firefighters were tested for the virus on Tuesday.

So far, only two results have come back and one was positive — leading to seven others being ordered to quarantine.

“If we have more positive we don’t know about outside of this group it’ll be more challenging,” Patenaude said.

Chief Patenaude says the other results are expected in the next few days.

The person with COVID-19 displayed no symptoms and is doing well, but the seven others who came in close contact with that person for 15 minutes or longer must quarantine, according to Patenaude.

He says scheduling has become difficult because of the already small size of the department, coupled with three vacant positions they’re already working to fill.

“We’re covering those shifts with overtime personnel. So far the guys are stepping up and taking those shifts so we haven’t had to order anybody. We have to just protect the public,” Patenaude said.

The chief says the firefighter who tested positive did come in contact with the public, but it’s unlikely there was any transmission because he was wearing a mask.

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