The Turlock Fire Department has had seven firefighters test positive for COVID-19 in the last couple of days, said Interim Turlock Fire Chief Gary Carlson.
The seven firefighters have been taken off work and will have to remain in quarantine until they test negative for the virus. Additionally, two other firefighters have been placed on leave pending a second negative COVID-19 test. Eleven firefighters have tested negative.
The firefighters who have tested positive have been showing mild to no symptoms, Carlson said.
The cases appear to trace back from one shift.
"We are working on contact tracing, but please be aware that the department responds to several COVID related emergency calls each day," Carlson said. "Firefighters do wear all available PPE on each call but there is a lot of contact. This is the nature of our jobs."
The fire department has a protocol in place for individuals to test when someone either presents with symptoms or has a documented close contact with an infected individual without proper PPE.
The outbreak comes on the heels of four recent departures from the fire department for another department, leaving Turlock with a staffing shortage.
"At this point we have been able to maintain normal staffing," Carlson said. "The employees are working overtime to cover shifts and have been very easy to work with as they want what is best for the city. They have voluntarily canceled vacations and time off to fill the gaps caused by the virus."