Over the course of a few weeks, multiple employees of local businesses reached out to In The Loop over their concern of COVID-19 cases in the area.
Employees who were directly affected stated they had to be tested due to direct and indirect exposure.
Farmers and Merchants has confirmed that they have had an employee test positive for COVID 19. On Monday, they had their building cleaned and sanitized professionally.
“We have a robust program in place to ensure the safety of our employees and customers,” said Donna Kimes, Chief Marketing Officer, “Once it was reported we have contract tracing in place so we contacted anyone who had contact with the employee. Our priority is the safety of our employees and customers.”
Petrus Chevrolet also confirmed that they had an employee test positive and they, too, have closed their building to customers, as a safety measure.
“We are letting our customers know when they call to make an appointment that we had an employee test positive,” said a Petrus employee. “Our priority is letting them know and keeping them safe.”
After an employee of Riceland said they received a briefing due to a confirmed case, In The Loop spoke with Kevin McGilton who said, “We have not confirmed a case today.”
In the Loop also reached out to St. John’s Lutheran School and spoke with Laura Ellis, Preschool Director, who said they did not have a confirmed case today either.
The principal, Kristian Dabbs, did confirm an employee was in indirect contact with a person that tested positive at her home church which was not St. John’s.
“Our policy is for the employee to get a test,” said Dabbs. “Rather the test is positive or negative they must self-quarantine for 14 days.”
Dabbs also states they are following all of the guidelines set by ADH, prohibiting persons from entering the facility with the exception of facility and staff.
Parents pickup and drop-off of their children outside of the facility and the facility and playground equipment is sanitized frequently.
“If we do get a positive COVID-19 test back our parents will be the first to know,” said Dabbs.
According to ADH test results can take three to five days to come back.
Dr. Nate Smith, secretary of ADH previously stated half of the state’s total COVID-19 cases were asymptomatic.
While many believe being asymptomatic means you can’t spread the virus, state epidemiologist with the Arkansas Department of Health Dr. Jennifer Dillaha who interviewed with KATV last week, said it’s likely people without symptoms can transmit the virus onto others.
“We know that about 40 to 45 percent of the cases are asymptomatic,” she said during her interview. “We also know the virus that causes COVID-19 is a respiratory virus that is spread very similarly to other respiratory viruses.”
Dr. Dillaha pointed out the rapid spread of the virus in some of the state’s correctional facilities and nursing homes.
Other alleged positive cases that were reported to us were from Lennox and Arkansas County Bank. Calls to both businesses resulted in no answer.
When In The Loop reached out to Producers, they could not release the information but said they would have someone call back.
According to the Arkansas Department of Health, when a patient is confirmed to have an illness, they isolate themselves to prevent further spread of that illness.
Public health staff help those who have been infected recall where they have been and with whom they had close contact while they were infectious. Those “contacts” are contacted by public health staff and asked to quarantine themselves to stop further spread of the illness.
If you have had close contact with someone confirmed to have COVID-19, you will be required to self-quarantine for 14 days according to ADH.
A quarantine of 14 days is needed because you may develop COVID-19 anytime during the virus’s incubation period, which is 14 days. If you work in a critical infrastructure job, it may be possible for you to still work while under quarantine.
The CDC says in most cases, you do not need to shut down your facility. If it has been less than 7 days since the sick employee has been in the facility, close off any areas used for prolonged periods of time by the sick person:
- Wait 24 hours before cleaning and disinfecting to minimize potential for other employees being exposed to respiratory droplets. If waiting 24 hours is not feasible, wait as long as possible.
- During this waiting period, open outside doors and windows to increase air circulation in these areas.
If it has been 7 days or more since the sick employee used the facility, additional cleaning and disinfection is not necessary. Continue routinely cleaning and disinfecting all high-touch surfaces in the facility.
To prevent community spread, Arkansas Governor Asa Hutchinson has asked Arkansans to social distance and wear masks when social distancing can not be achieved.
In a May press conference, Hutchinson said that “it’s not then about your health as much as it is about everybody’s health around,” in reference to those who have refused to wear a mask within establishments that require masks to enter.
“It’s a very selfish act to say, ‘We’re not going to abide by those guidelines’ that are meant to protect you and others,” Hutchinson said.
Hutchinson said on Monday, “We’re at an important time in this pandemic. The temptation is to let down our guard. Our admonition continues to be to protect yourself and others by social distancing and wearing a mask when you’re out in public. Cases will continue to go up this week.”
This is a developing story and will be updated as more facts become available.