Chicago fire academy closed due to COVID-19 outbreak, CFD says

CHICAGO (WLS) -- The Chicago fire academy is closed until further notice after an apparent COVID-19 outbreak impacting both students and instructors.

Officials said they are working to determine the source of the outbreak at the Robert J. Quinn Fire Academy, located at 558 W. De Koven Street in the South Loop. It's not clear how long the building will be shut down.

Officials have not said exactly how many people tested positive for COVID-19, but there are multiple cases. Those individuals are now in isolation and none require hospitalization. For now, the other trainees will participate in remote instruction.

Fire officials said the facility where Chicago firefighters are trained will undergo a deep cleaning. A representative from a janitorial service was seen arriving at the fire academy Monday afternoon, apparently to do a site survey.

Just last week, the department released a public service message urging people to take the virus seriously by wearing masks.

Since the beginning of the pandemic, officials said there have been close to 300 cases of COVID-19 within the Chicago Fire Department.

The virus took the lives of two department veterans, firefighters Mario Araujo and Edward Singleton. Both died in April.

Full statement from Chicago Fire Department spokesperson Larry Langford:

"The health and safety of Chicago's firefighters, paramedics and recruits are our utmost priority. That is why following multiple confirmed COVID-19 cases at the Robert J. Quinn Fire Academy, the Department has temporarily suspended training at the facility while we work to thoroughly clean and disinfect the entire facility. Furthermore, the Department will clean all employees' work areas and any vehicles and equipment used. To prevent the spread of COVID-19 in all facilities, the Department continues to work with the Chicago Department of Public Health (CPDH) to ensure social distancing and public health guidelines are strictly enforced and that all individuals abide by them. The current class of recruits will continue their training through remote learning. All individuals who tested positive for COVID-19 will remain in isolation while any close contacts will quarantine. No individuals who have tested positive have required hospitalization, and we will continue to monitor their condition. The Department will provide an update when training resumes in the facility."
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