The highly infectious novel coronavirus continues to spread through the Fredericksburg community, as evidenced by the number of outbreaks, local cases and people in yellow isolation gowns summoned for professional deep cleanings.
Five office workers at a manufacturing facility in Caroline County tested positive for COVID-19 last week and have been quarantining at home. Meanwhile, the CVS on Chatham Heights Road in Stafford County is closed today for cleaning after an employee there tested positive. And, workers with the local health district continue to investigate their own outbreak after a nurse tested positive on Monday.
In the Caroline case, none of those with confirmed cases of the novel coronavirus worked on the manufacturing floor of the Modular MEP Facility in Ruther Glen, said Regine de la Cruz, vice president of marketing and communications with M.C. Dean Inc., which owns the plant.
She said that as soon as the first person tested positive, the company followed safety protocols to isolate the employee, conduct contact tracing and inform all workers. The main office building was closed for five days, and in addition to daily cleaning, the company hired a third party to deep clean the site, de la Cruz said.
The cases make up 1 of 7 COVID-19 outbreaks to date in the Rappahannock Area Health District, which includes Fredericksburg and the counties of Caroline, King George, Spotsylvania and Stafford. The Caroline facility has been the only outbreak in the manufacturing sector, said Allison Balmes–John, spokesperson for the local health district.
No other M.C. Dean workers have tested positive since last week, Balmes–John said.
Meanwhile, the health district continues to investigate its own outbreak, which has resulted in five health department workers testing positive and more than 20 fellow staff members quarantining at home.
The outbreak involving the local district hasn’t affected staffers’ abilities to investigate COVID-19 cases because most people who do contract tracing—identifying who’s been exposed to the sickened individual—are able to work from home, Balmes–John said.
CVS’ corporate headquarters learned on Wednesday that an employee, who last worked on Saturday at the Chatham Heights store, had tested positive, said Amy Thibault, senior manager in corporate communications. That worker has been placed on paid leave for two weeks, and several other employees have been quarantined, Thibault said.
The store’s employees are required to wear masks at work and maintain social distancing between themselves and customers, Thibault said. The stores follow Centers for Disease Control and Prevention guidelines and clean hard surfaces hourly and commonly handled items frequently, she said.
At the M.C. Dean facility, workers have been following safety protocols for two months, de la Cruz said. An onsite nurse has checked temperatures and screened workers for exposure. Face masks are mandatory, and the company has put in more hand-washing stations, hired a third-party company to sanitize the building daily, restricted areas where people can gather and practiced social distancing, the vice president said in an email.
The plant manufactures modular power, utility and building technology systems for critical infrastructures such as hospitals, data centers and government facilities. M.C. Dean began development of its prefabrication facility in Ruther Glen in 2003 and opened in 2006.
Last spring, it announced a $25.1 million investment in the facility to incorporate a new product line, which created 100 new jobs. In a news release in March 2019, state officials praised the expansion, which marked the company’s third investment in the Caroline County plant, which had created more than 200 jobs, said Secretary of Commerce and Trade Brian Ball.