A ferry pulls away from the dock in Mukilteo last Friday. (Olivia Vanni / The Herald)

A ferry pulls away from the dock in Mukilteo last Friday. (Olivia Vanni / The Herald)

COVID hits ferry workers; Everett firefighters quarantined

Those infected did not work in passenger areas. Reduced service is likely due to crew shortages.

MUKILTEO — Several employees on the busy Mukilteo-Clinton ferry route have tested positive for COVID-19 and 13 Everett firefighters are under quarantine after being exposed to the virus.

Officials from both agencies said the public should not have much to worry about.

“They predominantly work in a non-public area,” Washington State Ferries spokesman Ian Sterling said. “Their regular work is not in the passenger cabin, but that doesn’t mean they don’t transit through there.”

He said three or four workers are infected. He could not comment on their conditions for privacy reasons.

The agency is following health authority guidelines in terms of testing other workers. Those with positive tests will be out for at least a couple weeks, Sterling said.

The ferry system has been scrambling to staff all routes due to challenges during the pandemic with an older, at-risk workforce.

The Mukilteo-Clinton route, the busiest in terms of vehicle traffic, was reduced from two boats to one on Sunday for the second straight weekend. This was not directly related to the new COVID-19 cases, Sterling said.

“One person can keep a vessel from sailing. We sail in the bare minimum allowed to satisfy the Coast Guard requirements,” he said.

Loudspeakers on all routes encourage people to stay in their cars. Galleys are closed but restrooms are open.

Traffic surges on weekends with riders coming to the islands and crossing Puget Sound for recreational purposes.

“It is supposed to be essential travel only,” Sterling said. “This should be a reminder that maybe it’s not a good idea to travel now. We want to keep our employees safe and our passengers safe.”

The ferries are necessary to take commuters to essential jobs and for emergency medical transport, he said.

Frontline ferry workers are at risk for contracting the virus.

“We had a worker on Colman Dock on the terminal side pass away from complications due to COVID,” Sterling said of the routes serving Seattle.

Sterling did not know if ferry travel between Mukilteo and Whidbey Island would be affected this week.

“There’s a good chance of it,” he said.

On Father’s Day weekend, ferry service was reduced both days and on the Edmonds-Kingston route one day due to crew shortages. Waits were multiple hours.

Meanwhile, Everett city officials on Tuesday evening said 10 firefighters were placed in quarantine at their homes over the weekend after a co-worker became ill following their work shift. The firefighter sought medical attention for his illness, and tested positive for COVID-19. It is unknown where the ill firefighter contracted the virus.

Three other firefighters are also in quarantine due to separate exposures to individuals with known COVID-19 infections.

All 13 crew members will be quarantined at their homes for the incubation period of the coronavirus, which is 14 days from the date of exposure. The fire department will monitor their condition for any symptoms of COVID-19.

“There is no cause for alarm to the public,” the city statement said.

All firefighters are required to follow a high-level Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) protocol during any medical call or interaction with the public, which includes wearing an N-95 mask or respirator, eye goggles or face shield, a protective gown and gloves. Additionally, deep cleaning and decontamination measures are in place for the fire apparatus and stations.

Andrea Brown: abrown@heraldnet.com; 425-339-3443. Twitter @reporterbrown.

Talk to us

More in Local News

A worker disassembles a fluidized bed incinerator at the Edmonds Wastewater Treatment Plant on Thursday, Sept. 16, 2021 in Edmonds, Wa. (Olivia Vanni / The Herald)
In Edmonds, $26M goes to a cleaner way to get rid of poop

The city will reduce its wastewater carbon footprint by dumping an incinerator and using new technology.

The Voting Commissioners of the Washington State Redistricting Commission released draft Legislative District maps Tuesday. (Washington State Redistricting Commission)
Early maps of legislative districts endanger some incumbents

Under one redistricting proposal, Mill Creek joins Everett. Under another, Monroe joins Wenatchee.

Tuesday's career fair will be at Everett Community College, which incidentally is also one of the participants. (Sue Misao / Herald file)
Snohomish County Career Fair set for Tuesday at EvCC

Job seekers can connect with more than 40 employers at this year’s annual event.

Driver who died in Everett car crash identified

Thomas Ogden, 43, was driving Tuesday morning on Rucker Avenue at 41st Street when another car crashed into his.

Granite Falls altercation: Dog killed, man shot in head

A 20-year-old man allegedly shot an intruder, 54, who threatened two people and killed their dog.

Man found dead in Mountlake Terrace homeless camp identified

Oscar Banos Mejia, 40, was discovered in the bushes along the Interurban Trail on Friday afternoon.

Police respond to a crash in which Isaiah Funden, 24, of Marysville, died after his motorcycle collided with a car Monday morning on the Snohomish River Bridge. (Everett Police Department)
Motorcyclist who died in Everett bridge crash identified

The Marysville man, 24, was involved in a collision with a car and ejected into the Snohomish River.

Callie Childers 20210921
Car of slain Marysville woman was set on fire

Her body was found along a remote stretch of U.S. 2, east of Stevens Pass. Her car was found near Snohomish.

Sound Transit CEO Peter Rogoff (center) takes a ride on light rail from the Angle Lake Station in Seatac with King County Executive Dow Constantine (left) on Sept. 21, 2016. (Ian Terry / Herald file)
CEO of fast-growing Sound Transit system to step aside

The search will begin soon to replace Peter Rogoff, who leads the multibillion-dollar transportation network.

Most Read