FORT FAIRFIELD, Maine — Several police officers and firefighters who were potentially exposed to the new coronavirus during an EMT course have tested negative for coronavirus twice and were leaving quarantine, Fort Fairfield police said Friday.
Fort Fairfield Fire Department held an EMT training course featuring six students and one instructor on Saturday. Later that day, one of the people attending that course was informed they had been in contact with someone confirmed to have COVID-19, the illness caused by the coronavirus.
Five members of the Fort Fairfield Fire Department and two members of the Fort Fairfield Police Department who had direct or indirect contact with that person immediately went into quarantine. They were tested twice for the virus at Northern Light A.R. Gould Hospital in Presque Isle on Sunday and Thursday. Both tests came back negative.
With the EMT incident receiving publicity around the time of the news of an outbreak of the virus in Houlton, many believed the two events could represent a problematic new phase for Aroostook County. While active cases in The County have risen to 11, it does not appear anyone was infected due to the Fort Fairfield incident.
Newell had said Tuesday that Fort Fairfield police and the Maine Center for Disease Control and Prevention were investigating whether the incident was linked to an outbreak of the virus in Houlton that has resulted in nine new positive cases thus far. He said his department was still unsure if Houlton’s outbreak played a role on Friday.
The decision to release staff members from quarantine on Friday came after discussions with the Maine CDC, Newell said.
The virus scare had been difficult for affected staff as well as the greater Fort Fairfield community, Newell said. He thanked residents for their support of town employees and the Aroostook County Sheriff’s Office for patrolling Fort Fairfield while two Fort Fairfield P.D. officers were quarantined.
“To say this has been a difficult week for the town, its staff, and our community, is an understatement,” Newell said. “I commend our staff for their diligence during this time and recognize this hasn’t been easy for their families either.”