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Two popular pubs close temporarily as COVID cases jump in Essex, Franklin counties

The Lake Placid Pub and Brewery is seen here in September with a tent in front to serve customers safely. (News photo — Andy Flynn)

The Lake Placid Pub & Brewery, as well as its sister brewery Big Slide Brewery & Public House, remained closed this week following two employees’ positive COVID-19 test results.

The announcement made on Thursday, Nov. 5 marks the second time the business, which is a popular destination for both tourists and locals, has announced positive test results among its staff. Owner Christopher Ericson said the business would close as a precaution, though the Essex County Health Department confirmed that the risk of exposure to the general public is low.

“During these unsettling times, our top priority continues to be the safety of our staff and our customers,” he said in a statement. “While only two of our almost 100 employees have tested positive, we have decided to take the precautionary step of closing our doors temporarily in order to break any links in the COVID chain. We are working with Essex County Health Department to ensure the correct time frame for this, and although we are absolutely not mandated to close, Catherine and I have made this difficult decision to ensure the health of our staff and customers.”

According to Essex County Public Health Director Linda Beers, the first positive case at the brewery last week had already been quarantining at home due to an exposure unrelated to the breweries, when the person showed symptoms and subsequently learned of the positive test result.

“Although they were adhering to the health department order of quarantine, they did have some prior contact with other staff during the window of time when they would be considered contagious,” Beers said last week. “The second employee was reported to ECHD this morning (Nov. 5). This individual was also already quarantining due to contact with the first case, but given the timeline, some additional staff members were deemed at risk of exposure.”

Both breweries plan to reopen around Nov. 16.

Essex County reported a total of 11 active COVID-19 cases on Tuesday, Nov. 10, three new since Monday, and six more active cases than there were one week prior. Of the current active cases, four were located in the town of North Elba and two in the town of Jay. The remaining cases are in St. Armand, Chesterfield, Essex and Ticonderoga.

Ten new positive cases reported on Wednesday, Nov. 11 brought Franklin County’s total number of current cases to 50. Franklin County reported two COVID-19 related deaths this week. The number of cases seen throughout the county prompted school officials to decide to temporarily shift all Franklin County students to remote learning until Jan. 4.

“Franklin County continues to be in a State of Emergency due to COVID 19,” Franklin County Manager Donna Kissane wrote in an email Wednesday, Nov. 11. “The Franklin County Schools recently made an announcement to go remote later this week or early next week. The decision was difficult for the School Superintendents but after weighing multiple factors and collaboration/consultation with the Franklin County Health Department and other officials, moving to a remote system seemed to be the best option at this time to minimize the risk to the students, employees and community.”

Franklin County Manager Donna Kissane said the new cases are mostly tied to spread from other cases.

“We are seeing more positive cases daily due to the spread of the virus from exposure. The virus has no boundaries and everyone is at risk for infection,” she said. “The best protection is staying home. If you need to go out in the community, physically distancing, wear face coverings, wash and/or sanitize hands and sanitize surfaces.”

(Writer Aaron Cerbone contributed to this report.)