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Four JFRD members out of self-quarantine after attending conference where man tests positive for COVID-19

An epidemiologist cleared the four firefighters around 12:30 p.m. Thursday after they spent the first part of the day in isolation.

Four members of the Jacksonville Fire and Rescue Department will return to work after they were self-quarantined Thursday. This came after JFRD Chief Keith Powers said they attended an EMS conference in Tampa where a man tested positive for COVID-19.

Powers said they were notified late Wednesday night that the man who lives in Broward County tested positive.

"They're not showing any symptoms and they're all in good spirits and they're actually working from home because I need their help," Powers said Thursday morning about the administrative JFRD members who work in the JFRD headquarters downtown.

According to Mayor Lenny Curry, an epidemiologist cleared the four firefighters around 12:30 p.m. Thursday. 

"They'll return to work tomorrow [Friday]," Powers said. "This is what we encourage the public to do as well. We were operating out of an abundance of caution self-isolating like we needed to do." 

Powers said self-quarantining is just one of several steps his department is taking to keep his personnel and the public safe. He said they have new questions 911 dispatchers ask if someone calls with Coronavirus or flu-like symptoms.

"We've added some questions that follow the guidance of the CDC and if you meet certain criteria then our dispatchers notify the units that you need to put on the protective equipment before you go in and that's how we're keeping everyone safe," Powers said.

That protective equipment includes a respirator, eye protection, gowns and gloves for first-responders, and a mask for the patient. These are materials they have on hand for any possibly infectious disease patient. 

They also routinely use machines called AeroClaves to deep clean units.

“We have the ability to send them to the hospitals before our crews even get in the back of the unit, and we put it in and shut the doors and within 30 minutes," Powers sais. "It can totally decontaminate the back of that unit to an almost sterile environment again and it kills any viruses that are in there.” 

Multiple people on the First Coast have tested positive for COVID-19, according to the Florida Department of Health.

For the latest updates on the virus and its impact on the First Coast, follow this live blog and join our Facebook group, Facts Not Fear: Your Coronavirus Questions Answered.

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