Kirkland, WA – More than two dozen first responders have been quarantined for possible exposure to the coronavirus after they responded to a nursing home where numerous people have tested positive.
The city of Kirkland put out a press release that confirmed 25 Kirkland firefighters and two Kirkland police officers have been placed under quarantine “out of an abundance of caution” after they were exposed to the virus at a nursing home.
Kirkland Fire Station 21 has been shut down to house the first responders under quarantine who cannot, or don’t want to, go into home quarantine for fear of infecting others who live in the same residence.
“I would like to specifically acknowledge the outstanding work of our firefighters during these events,” Kirkland City Manager Kurt Triplett said. “They have been doing their job and assisting people in this care facility for the past few weeks. At the recommendation of Public Health, this has meant that any firefighters who responded to a call at the facility is in quarantine due to an abundance of caution.”
“None of them are presenting any symptoms and we hope they will be tested and cleared soon,” Triplett added. “In the meantime, other firefighters are covering through overtime and are continuing to respond to calls throughout the city.”
The press release said the fire department was still fully staffed and that personnel from Fire Station 21 who were not exposed to coronavirus had been assigned to other fire houses.
There are signs on the doors of Fire Station 21 warning people – including firefighters – not to enter, KIRO reported.
Neighboring fire departments will be providing additional support as fully one-quarter of the 100-person Kirkland Fire Department remains under quarantine.
“We have excellent relationships with our regional fire departments, and we’re making sure we have all the conversations in place, so if we need assistance from our partners, that can be provided,” city spokesperson Kellie Stickney told KIRO.
Kirkland has become the epicenter of the coronavirus in the United States, after a 50-year-old man infected man became the first U.S. death from the virus, The Washington Post reported.
The firefighters and police officers were exposed to the virus at the LifeCare Center of Kirkland, where more than 50 residents and staff have tested positive for coronavirus, KIRO reported.
County health officials are also concerned about a group of 21 students and staff from Lake Washington Institute of Technology (LWTech) who toured the nursing home a week ago, The Washington Post reported.
The school said they were waiting for the county health department to tell them what to do, but as of now, they have not placed anybody who toured LifeCare Center with the school under quarantine.
In the meantime, the school has cancelled classes and closed the campus through March 3 to allow for thorough disinfecting and cleaning, according to the Bellevue Reporter.
LWTech President Dr. Amy Morrison said all large community and college events were cancelled through the rest of the week.