Roanoke health official talks COVID-19 outbreaks at local restaurants

ROANOKE, Va. – A Virginia Department of Health official, Dr. Molly O’Dell, said that despite recent closures of local restaurants after employees tested positive for COVID-19, people should be reassured that those restaurants are taking the precaution to temporarily close.

O’Dell, the Communicable Disease Director for the Roanoke City-Alleghany Health Districts, said that restaurants aren’t required to close if one employee tests positive, but many want to so they can do a deep cleaning of the establishment. Some restaurants also have to shut down if they don’t have enough staff to remain open while the infected employee is quarantining.

If there’s an outbreak at a restaurant, meaning more than one employee tests positive because the virus is being spread employee-to-employee, then restaurants are required to close by VDH.

O’Dell also said that no cases have been reported locally where a restaurant employee has infected a patron.

“The restaurant industry is taking this very seriously. This is their livelihood,” said O’Dell. “They want to make sure that they can stay open and they don’t want disease in their work site any more than any other work site does.”

O’Dell recommended that if anyone sees restaurant employees not wearing face coverings or cleaning frequently, to call their local health department to report it.

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