ALFRED, Maine — EDITORS NOTE: The above is from our VERIFY team on why you should keep wearing your mask after getting the COVID-19 vaccine.
UPDATE, Tuesday, Jan. 19
Alfred Fire Department Chief Chris Carpenter and Alfred Fire Rescue said Tuesday that seven of the 45-person department currently have active cases of COVID-19; they are self-isolating.
Ten employees have been identified as close contacts, and are quarantining. Carpenter says they will be able to return to work as early as next week.
The department became aware of its first positive case among staff last week, and on Saturday, stopped most department operations until all close contacts could be identified. The fire station and apparatus were all decontaminated properly on Saturday as well.
The department says Alfred Fire Rescue is currently operating on an on-call fire and emergency medical services schedule and is also receiving mutual aid support from other nearby agencies.
The community is reminded and urged to always call 911 in an emergency. All calls are being answered either by Alfred Fire Rescue firefighters and EMTs or mutual aid partners of the department.
Alfred Fire Rescue is working closely with state and local officials as the department addresses the impact COVID-19 is having on staff.
Alfred Fire Rescue will provide regular updates as more information becomes available.
Original story, Saturday, Jan. 16
The Alfred Fire Department has been shut down and all fire and EMS personnel are in quarantine after multiple staff members tested positive for COVID-19.
All emergency calls for the York County town will be covered by Sanford, Waterboro, Lyman, Kennebunk, and Goodwins Mills, town selectmen announced Saturday.
"Obviously our fire and rescue personnel took all the precautions that are possible but considering all the close contact with other people it is not surprising this occurred," selectmen wrote in a Facebook post. "It's the reason first responders get the first doses of the vaccine, but as you know the numbers have surged recently and this is a reflection of that surge."
The York County Incident Management Team began vaccinating EMS staff on Dec. 30, 2020 and said at the time they would vaccinate 400 emergency responders that week.
However, Sanford Fire Chief Steve Benotti said at the time that some personnel chose not to be vaccinated, which he found "concerning."
"We put that emphasis on those employees knowing that by doing this, you are putting yourself and the rest of your crew at risk by not taking the vaccination," he said.
Residents of Alfred should continue to call 911 in the event of any emergency.
This story will be updated.