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Two Springfield City Employees Test Positive For COVID-19

Olivia Mitchell
NPR Illinois

Two city of Springfield employees who work in the Public Works garage have tested positive for COVID-19. City officials said they haven’t worked since Sunday. 

Fire Chief Allen Reyne said the city has taken additional precautions to make sure people are safe.

“We need to protect our workforce, and help them protect their families because we still have services to offer,” said Reyne. “The police department, fire department and public works are very busy right now.”

Reyne said the city has contacted people who came in close proximity with the two workers, and urged them to get tested.

The infected workers are self-isolating, and other employees who may have been in contact with them are staying home.

These are the first two city employees who have reported testing positive, Renye said. But the fire chief said there is no way to find out because the results are given to the individual and not the employer.

Springfield has seen 70 cases of COVID-19 this week. Reyne said the cases involving the city employees aren’t surprising.

“It was always a matter of when, not if,” Reyne said. When you have a city this size, and a pandemic of this proportion, at some point, we expected that somebody would become positive.”

The fire chief also noted how hard it is for city employees to remain six feet apart from one another.

“Working together and working with different people is difficult sometimes,” he said. “It’s difficult for a firefighter to social distance when they are taking care of a patient with a broken leg, or working on a house fire.”

The city is also providing protective equipment, requiring face coverings and requiring social distancing, and additional cleaning to its facilities.

Olivia Mitchell is a graduate Public Affairs Reporting intern for the spring 2020 legislative session.
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