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198 members of DC Fire and EMS out due to positive COVID tests, quarantine

Members of DC Fire and EMS sent a letter to officials in September pushing back against the District's vaccine mandate.

WASHINGTON — More than 100 workers within DC Fire and EMS have tested positive for COVID-19, according to Jennifer Donelan, the Director of Communications for DC Fire & Emergency Medical Services Department.

Donelan said out of a total workforce of 2,064 employees, including civilians, 198 members of DC Fire and EMS are out due to quarantine and positive test results. 

In the last week alone, 117 members of DC Fire and EMS have tested positive. Donelan said 87 of those people were vaccinated and six of those had received a COVID booster. The remaining 30 were not vaccinated against COVID. 

City leaders mandated that all D.C. employees, including firefighters, get the COVID-19 vaccine or risk losing their jobs. Fire crews from DC Fire and EMS sent a letter to officials in September pushing back against the mandate. They wrote that nearly half the members of the DC Fire Department, about 900 people, were not vaccinated and 200 of them said they would not get the shot under any circumstances.    

RELATED: DC Firefighters push back against Mayor's vaccine mandate

Will Jones was one of the firefighters who objected to the vaccine mandate. Jones sought a religious exemption due to the fact that vaccine rates lag behind in developing countries, compared to the United States. 

"That is an incredible disparity in terms of life-saving health interventions," he said. "Because we do know, especially if you're at a high risk, that this is something that can save lives." 

For months, Jones and some of his colleagues have argued that a reasonable accommodation for those with religious objections would be to allow regular testing as an alternative to vaccination.  

RELATED: Firefighter explains his religious objection to COVID-19 vaccine; Here's how the process works

In a Dec. 2 update, Deputy City Administrator and the Deputy Mayor for Public Safety and Justice Kevin Donahue said there were 839 religious exemption requests across the D.C. government. At the time of that update, only one request for religious exemption was approved.

RELATED: 800+ DC government workers not in compliance with COVID vaccine mandate

WATCH NEXT: DC firefighters push back against COVID vaccine mandate

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