An anonymous news tip and email has been circulating local media outlets and online claiming that Ripon Consolidated Fire District has tested positive for COVID-19, except for 1 firefighter that received the COVID-19 vaccination, after a department party. The email goes on to claim that the department has not been taking the pandemic seriously until now.
Fire Chief, Dennis Bitters, has released an official statement regarding this situation.
"The Ripon Fire District has been made aware that four staff members have received positive tests for the COVID 19 virus. These four members last worked together on Tuesday, March 2, 2021. They have been off duty since that time. When members noted symptoms, they were immediately tested for the virus and quarantined at home. None have worked on duty since. All other personnel, regardless of contact or not, have been tested and have all received a negative result.
The Department has a very aggressive stance and policy regarding the protection of its personnel and the people we serve, which includes the wearing of personal protective equipment and protective measures while on duty and in the station. Unfortunately, COVID 19 is extremely prevalent in our Community during this pandemic, which results in a less controlled environment than in the on-duty time at our facilities. As individuals, we may be subjected to unprotected persons unknowingly who are not vaccinated. We highly encourage our personnel to be vaccinated.
This is the first occurrence of a positive test in department personnel since the discovery of the virus. As frontline emergency responders, and operators of an emergency ambulance service, our personnel come in contact with patients who have communicable diseases, and we take great precautions to protect our personnel and the public. This is the first occurrence of a positive test result since the onset of the Pandemic, which is a direct result of our practices.
The District will continue to work with the San Joaquin County Health Department to ensure the safe return to duty of these professional emergency health care providers."