Four Lake Placid hospitality workers found to have virus

LAKE PLACID — The Essex County Health Department has identified four cases of employees in the Lake Placid hospitality industry who have tested positive for COVID-19, and department administrators say after completing contact tracing they feel confident they have the cases isolated.

Essex County Public Health Director Linda Beers said her department identified the industry in these cases because of its public nature of its business, but chose not to identify the businesses where cases were found.

She said there is no cause for panic in the local hospitality scene.

“There’s not a hotel, motel or restaurant that I personally would not go to in Lake Placid,” Beers said. “There is nothing that I believe that we have haven’t yet isolated and quarantined at this time.”

Still, Beers said she does not want people to have a “false sense of security,” explaining that just because the coronavirus was detected in one place does not mean other places are free from it.

“You should keep your guard up and do all the right things no matter (where) you are,” Beers said.

Beers said the county wants to inform people on how contact tracing is conducted.

“We realize that this information is concerning to an area that attracts both local and out-of-state visitors year round,” Beers wrote in a statement. “We want to assure our communities that those at risk of a known exposure are contacted directly by our health department. But, we want to be clear about what constitutes an exposure — and who would be considered a contact of a case.”

Contact tracing

“A contact is defined as someone who has either been within six feet of a known positive for longer than 10 minutes or someone who was in the same indoor area (greater than 6 feet away) of a known positive for an hour or more,” according to an ECHD press release.

ECHD Public Information Officer Andrea Whitmarsh said the county’s goal is to reach all close contacts of the individual at the center of the tracing effort within 48 hours. She said the close contacts of all four Lake Placid employees have been notified and been asked to quarantine for 14 days from their date of last exposure. They have been issued quarantine orders from the health department.

“Those who live with, or who were in close contact with anyone under quarantine are not considered at risk and do not need to quarantine from work, school (or) the public,” Beers wrote. “If you were not the person in contact with the known positive, you were not exposed.”

Brewery open about cases

The Lake Placid Pub and Brewery identified itself as one of the affected businesses in a Facebook post Monday, detailing how its employee found out about testing positive, what the bar and restaurant is doing in response and the work it did with the county.

“We wanted to release this statement as we feel that we are good community stewards, and that being transparent and disseminating accurate information are the right things to do,” the post reads.

According to the brewery’s post, the employee was flagged during a daily employee health check last week. That worker left the property immediately and later that day was tested, eventually receiving a positive test result.

ECHD conducted contact tracing and found that it was safe for the brewery to stay open.

“We immediately informed our entire staff and have given them all the option to self-quarantine and/or be tested, and, of course, our daily employee health checks are continuing,” the post says.

The post says all of the employees who have been tested since have had negative test results, and that the restaurant has also conducted extra cleaning and sanitizing, reduced the amount of staff on-site at the same time and removed additional capacity from public areas.

“While this is not the news anyone wants to hear, we are confident that our policies and procedures are strong and appropriate,” the post reads. “These procedures successfully flagged and identified the person in question, and we are proud that we had a plan in place for this unfortunate circumstance.”

There have been rumors of cases at other restaurants or hotels that the Enterprise has not been able to confirm or deny.