By Beth David, Editor
In what he described as a “gut punch,” Acushnet Fire Chief Kevin Gallagher announced on Facebook on 5/15/20, that two members of the department tested positive for COVID-19.
In a post titled “A Message From a Very Humbled Chief,” Mr. Gallagher said that 62 Acushnet residents tested positive so far for COVID-19.
“Each day the state notifies the Town Nurse who notifies the Town Health Agent who notifies the Police and Fire Chiefs,” wrote the chief. “A good day only has a few names on the report. A great day has no new names. There haven’t been a lot of great days lately. Each day, it seems, brings new numbers.”
Chief Gallagher said the department goes through “great lengths” to protet the privacy of people who are on the list.
“For them and their families this crisis went from something they read about to something they were quickly forced to deal with. The stress and fear must be unimaginable,” he wrote. “We know of this first hand as our Fire & EMS family has been living this crisis in real-time.
“Recently, two of our members tested positive for Covid-19. The news was a gut punch for them, their families, friends and co-workers. Their immediate families went into quarantine, their department family, with whom they had direct contact, went for testing. The good news is that their infection was isolated, their symptoms were minor and they have been cleared to return to work (following stringent protocols).
“Their story is being played out far and wide. Unknown exposure, no signs or symptoms during the period of being highly contagious, concerns leading to testing, positive results then lockdown. And during quarantine, way too much time to sit and worry about their present and their future. During many telephone conversations they kept their spirits high but we could detect that ever present stress.”
The chief wrote that he received permission to share the update. He said he hopes the story “highlights the need to stay vigilant,” and to stay focused on social distancing, hand hygiene and mask wearing.
“Our friends turned out to be one of the lucky ones,” he wrote. “We can only hope and pray that our other 60 friends will be so lucky.”
Chief Gallagher also said they are being “diligent about protecting privacy,” and hopes the message will be used to motivate people to double down on precautions. He acknowledged that Acushnet is a small town, but said the focus should now be on who has the virus, but on “how to not become Acushnet’s next number.”
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