Outbreaks of the coronavirus could sweep through large camps where crews typically stay as they fight wildfires across the US, according to a federal document obtained by The Associated Press, and the problem is likely to get worse the longer the fire season lasts.
The US Forest Service’s draft risk assessment suggests that even in a best-case scenario-with social distancing followed and plenty of tests and protective equipment available-nearly two dozen firefighters could be infected with Covid-19 at a camp with hundreds of people who come in to combat a fire that burns for months. The coronavirus causes mild to moderate symptoms for most people, such as fever and cough which will clear up in two to three weeks. For others, it may cause more serious illness, like pneumonia and death, particularly for people who are older or have health issues.
Some fire officials are often advised to use their own touchless thermometers to measure temperatures, if necessary. The recommendations state everyone should wear masks and other safety equipment outside their immediate crew while they are driving. Proper washing and hygiene is required, as is firefighters and potentially entire teams are removed if Covid-19 is found.