You visited a business with a COVID case. Now what?

No need to panic, experts say, but stay vigilent

Nick Puckett
npuckett@coloradocommunitymedia.com
Posted 7/17/20

Ashley Richter visited West Main Taproom and Grill in Parker July 3 for a meal and said she found all its employees and customers were wearing masks and complying with social distancing. Yet that …

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You visited a business with a COVID case. Now what?

No need to panic, experts say, but stay vigilent

Posted

Ashley Richter visited West Main Taproom and Grill in Parker July 3 for a meal and said she found all its employees and customers were wearing masks and complying with social distancing. Yet that evening, the restaurant notified patrons via Facebook it temporarily shut down due to a case of COVID-19.

One employee had tested positive of the disease. The restaurant remained closed until July 9.

“It can happen to anyone,” Richter said.

Richter is the communicable disease epidemiology manager for the Tri-County Health Department, which serves Douglas as well as Arapahoe and Adams counties. He said his July 3 visit to West Main was to eat, not an official visit.

People who visited the restaurant should remain vigilant for symptoms of COVID-19, but do not necessarily need to quarantine themselves, Richter said.

“If you have dined at a restaurant or store and find out the same day or the next day they've chosen to close, I don't think you, yourself, have to be quarantined,” Richter said. “It's a good idea to keep an eye on your health and be vigilant of symptoms of COVID for the next 14 days.”

In Parker, at least three restaurants have temporarily closed recently due to a reported case of COVID-19 among staff: West Main, The Egg and U and Hickory House. All notified the public about the situation and their temporary closures. All have since re-opened.

The Egg and U posted on Facebook that one of its staff members tested positive for COVID-19; it later deleted the post.

An infected person can be asymptomatic for days without realizing it — or may not develop symptoms at all. Symptoms typically occur two days after the initial transmission, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

“We don't want to close businesses,” Richter said. “We really want to work with you to make your restaurant or business as safe as it can be for the public. If we go down that route to close a restaurant and see that's the best option, that's because it's our last option.”

Richter said Tri-County Health will order a temporary shutdown only if there is a major violation or risk to the public.

“That's our job as a health department: to keep the public safe,” Richter said. “We work with restaurants and businesses to provide recommendations to ensure the health of the public as they continue to visit that establishment.”

Richter added that people who have visited a known contaminated area should do twice-daily temperature checks, wash hands or apply sanitizer frequently, and should avoid entering enclosed public places (stores, restaurants, etc.) -- or, if that's necessary, they should wear a mask and remain at least six feet apart from others.

When a business has an employee suspected of having COVID-19, it should contact Tri-County Health, Richter said. West Main immediately reported its case to Tri-County July 3 and sent multiple employees home.

Though there is no set procedure every business must follow, the health department will make recommendations to the owners based on an initial investigation.

Richter said Tri-County will recommend managers send home employees who:

• Are ill.

• Show symptoms of COVID-19.

• Have a high temperature.

• Have had contact with someone with COVID-19.

Patrons cautious of a restaurant because of a reported COVID case should not fret, Richter said. Though is always some risk in contracting the coronavirus if a person goes out in public, remembering social distancing guidelines and wearing a mask can help prevent the spread of the virus, Richter said. People who are particularly worried should seek outdoor dining options, he said.

In general, Richter said she could not stress enough the importance of wearing a mask, avoiding large groups and social distancing.

“I know we're all to the point where we think, 'Is this over yet?' We see we're having an uptick in the number of cases, so keeping a good handle of what we did in April and May is a really good idea.”

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