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WGLT's reporting on the coronavirus pandemic, which began in McLean County in March 2020.

15 Normal Firefighters In Quarantine Amid COVID-19 Outbreak

The Normal Fire Department Headquarters Building
Carleigh Gray
Fifteen Normal firefighters remain under quarantine after potential exposure to COVID-19.

Four Town of Normal firefighters have tested positive for the coronavirus and nearly a dozen co-workers also may have been exposed.
City Manager Pam Reece told WGLT on Saturday that a firefighter who contracted the coronavirus while off-duty “unknowingly exposed colleagues when returning to work.”

Reece said 15 firefighters remain under quarantine and those with negative test results will be eligible to return to work on July 18.

Reece said no citizens or patients have been placed at risk of exposure by Normal Fire Department staff and service continues uninterrupted. She noted fire department staff members wears personal protective equipment on every call to protect the public and patients.

“As we become more mobile following months of stay-at-home protocols and cautious activities, it is not surprising that employees have been subjected to COVID-19,” Reece said. “This situation is a reminder that wearing face coverings, social distancing, limiting group size and following public health guidelines are important practices to avoid exposure and transmission of coronavirus.”

Coronavirus - Testing Positivity Rate
Meanwhile, the testing positivity rate has grown over the last week, with the McLean County Health Department on Saturday announcing five new COVID-19 cases and one new hospitalization due to the virus.

The county’s seven-day positivity rate has jumped from 0.7% on July 1 to 3% on Saturday. The county’s positivity rate since the start of the pandemic remains 2%.

The county’s count of confirmed cases stands at 314. Forty-two of those remain active cases, with 40 people isolating at home and two in the hospital. Fifteen patients have died.

“With more openings and more movement of people, we see more risk of exposure and opportunities for transmission of the virus,” said health department Administrator Jessica McKnight.

Increased testing also is a factor in the rise in active cases. The COVID-19 testing site at the Interstate Center in Bloomington administered 334 tests on Friday and averaged 346 daily tests for the week. That far exceeds the previous high of 204 daily tests the previous week.

The site, run by Pekin-based Reditus, is open to the general public daily from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.


Editor's note: This story removed a reference to COVID-19 cases among first responders in McLean County pending a response from the McLean County Health Department. 

We’re living in unprecedented times when information changes by the minute. WGLT will continue to be here for you, keeping you up-to-date with the live, local and trusted news you need. Help ensure WGLT can continue with its in-depth and comprehensive COVID-19 coverage as the situation evolves by making a contribution.

Eric Stock is the News Director at WGLT. You can contact Eric at
WGLT Senior Reporter Charlie Schlenker has spent more than three award-winning decades in radio. He lives in Normal with his family.
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