Our Mom’s employee says coworker tested positive for COVID-19 after working despite showing symptoms

LDH comments on what restaurants should do if an employee tests positive for COVID-19

BATON ROUGE, La. (WAFB) - An employee of Our Mom’s Restaurant and Bar in Baton Rouge claims a coworker came to work sick last week with symptoms similar to those found with a coronavirus (COVID-19) illness.

Instead of sending that employee home, the woman says the employee was allowed to continue working for two days before testing positive for COVID-19.

The management of Our Mom’s would not confirm to WAFB if any employees had in fact tested positive for the coronavirus.

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The employee, who spoke to WAFB under the condition of anonymity, said when the employee first arrived at work she had “body aches, chills, the dry cough” and was “coughing all over the place.”

“My boss said ‘oh, let me go get a DayQuil and she’ll feel better,‘” the employee said.

The restaurant closed Sunday, June 21. The employee who spoke to WAFB said it was only after a majority of the employees refused to come in.

Our Mom’s issued this statement when WAFB requested an interview, the same statement it posted on its door:

Due to the recent increase in COVID-19 cases in the LSU area and our close proximity to this area, we’ve decided to temporarily close our Baton Rouge location. We have already taken a proactive approach by having our entire restaurant sanitized and all employees are currently being asked to get tested. We will reopen the restaurant when we feel it is safe for our customers and employees.”

WAFB also requested an interview with the co-owner of Our Moms, but there has been no response.

The Louisiana Department of Health does not have any guidance on whether restaurants should shutdown if an employee tests positive for COVID-19. Instead, LDH simply suggests sending any employees showing symptoms home immediately.

“We are telling people who are close contacts, including any other employees of the restaurant to stay home,” said Dr. Frank Welch, the Medical Director for Emergency Preparedness at LDH. “So we’re doing exactly what you want us to do and what makes sense for the disease. But shutting down the restaurant in general if no one was in close contact is not necessary.”

According to LDH, as long as employees continue to remain masked, wash hands, maintain their distance, and continually wipe down surfaces, customers should be safe eating out.

“Ordinary, daily cleaning the environment of a restaurant is perfectly fine,” Welch said. “And then only the employees at a restaurant that are deemed to be close contact with this person, those people will be recommended to stay home, isolate, and possibly get a test.”

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