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Albemarle confirms Covid outbreak within fire department

The City of Albemarle Fire Department is in the midst of a COVID-19 outbreak, city officials, including City Manager Michael Ferris and Fire Chief T. Pierre Brewton, confirmed on Monday, through city attorney Britt Burch.

As many as 10 firefighters have contracted the virus, though the city said only nine are currently affected. Two firefighters have severe enough cases that they are in the hospital.

The city was initially notified of the first positive case on July 9 and has no “definitive information” regarding how the outbreak started.

Following guidance from the CDC, all potentially exposed firefighters have been in quarantine. Both the county health department and the county emergency management are aware of the outbreak.

When asked if the firefighters were vaccinated, the city said it was “protected health information and we do not have any policies in place that require our employees to report their vaccination status to the City.”

“All precautions are being made to keep responders and community safe,” the City said. “We ask all to follow CDC guidelines for protection against transfer of COVID-19, continue to be intentional in washing hands, continue wearing proper personal protection, and please continue to keep responders and their families in prayer.”

When asked how the outbreak would impact the department, Chief Brewton said “AFD has been able to meet daily staffing needs” adding that “additional assistance has been requested through neighboring communities and the Office of the State Fire Marshal for resource allocation.”

The outbreak within the fire department comes as cases increase across the country due to the spread of highly transmissible delta variant. New cases in the county increased 94 percent from the end of last week (35 new cases) compared to the week prior (only 18), according to data from the Stanly County Health Department. As of today, only 32 percent of Stanly residents are fully vaccinated, lower than most other counties in the area.

About Chris Miller

Chris Miller has been with the SNAP since January 2019. He is a graduate of NC State and received his Master's in Journalism from the University of Maryland. He previously wrote for the Capital News Service in Annapolis, where many of his stories on immigration and culture were published in national papers via the AP wire.

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