Statement Regarding Mishawaka Firefighters Diagnosed with Coronavirus (COVID-19)

Mishawaka Fire Department has learned that eight of its members have tested positive for COVID-19. All eight of the firefighters are in self-isolation at their homes being monitored. All these individuals have shown varying signs, but most have experienced mild symptoms. All members will remain in self-isolation until they are released by our local health authority to return to active duty.

The health and wellness of our firefighters and their families, along with the citizens we took an oath to protect, is our number one priority. We are cognizant of the effect any positive results, let alone eight, may cause our community and we understand it may create a higher level of concern with these type of results.

On the morning of Saturday, May 30th we learned two of our firefighter’s were feeling ill with COVID like symptoms, so we reached out to Dr. Migliore at our health clinic and they were both tested that afternoon. Early the next morning, Sunday, May 31st, their results came back positive, so it was decided to test other firefighters who had worked with these two individuals over the previous days. Dr. Migliore and her staff quickly responded and tested approximately 26 firefighters that afternoon.

By Monday, June 1st, midday we had received word that four more members were confirmed with positive results for a total of six positive cases. The department consulted with the doctor again and at that time it was decided a swift, immediate action needed to happen to identify the magnitude of this event and to try and mitigate any further exposures by testing the rest of our department. Again, Dr. Migliore and her staff raised the bar for professionalism and care by helping meet this challenge head on. At 4:30 pm we started testing the on-duty members at one of our fire stations that was going to be used for drive thru testing facility the next morning.

From 7:00 am to noon on Tuesday, June 2nd the drive thru tests were performed swiftly, sufficiently, and successfully due to the amazing display of patience and professionalism from your Mishawaka firefighters. They voluntarily came out in full force to make this possible, we are proud of their efforts and assistance with making this unfortunate string of events into a successful one. When the tests came back two more positive results were received, bringing the total number of positives to 8 total: 6 were from Station 1 and all from the same shift. One was from Station 2 (who had been working with a Station 1 positive firefighter) and one was from Station 3 on a different shift. Contact tracing will be handled by the Department of Health.

Our community can rest assured all members of the fire department have been taking this national emergency seriously and utilizing every precaution possible for several months now during this pandemic and remain committed to be ever vigilant to our mission. The men and women responding to assist you are some of the most dedicated and skilled in our profession, this will not influence the services they provide to you. Please do not hesitate to call on us in your time of need and you can feel confident they are taking every precaution to provide for your safety. We understand the significant risk to our personnel as they continue to respond to meet your needs as well. We are dedicated to their wellbeing; we will continue to monitor their health daily and provide continued support to our members along with their families.

Mayor Dave Wood states “Our hearts and minds are with these firefighters and their families during this difficult period and we are praying for a speedy recovery. This turn of events shows how contagious this virus is and how fast it can be spread. The fire department along with our medical partners acted quickly and appropriately and at this time we feel confident we have this current situation under control. Our public can feel secure to call upon our fire department and its members to assist you at any moment, just like you would have in the past. I also would like to remind everyone to continue to follow all CDC guidelines including washing your hands, using sanitizer, and remember to social distance. We all have a role to play in protecting our own health as well as our neighbors.”

In closing, we want to commend several individuals for their assistance and guidance since this national emergency began. First, Dr. Migliore and her staff at the Mishawaka Health and Wellness Clinic for going above and beyond for our city and department, especially during this difficult time. They are the glowing examples of dedication, expertise and prove once again why healthcare workers are the true heroes of this pandemic. Also, Dr. Mark Fox and all members of the St. Joseph County Health Department who have worked exhaustively and provided us with expert opinions and guidance in all facets of our efforts and the safety and health of our members.

For further information or any questions please contact:

Bryon Woodward, Fire Chief, (574) 257-0620
Brian Thomas, Assistant Chief of EMS, (574) 257-0620