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City Worker at R-Center Food Pick-up Tests Positive for COVID-19

Patti Singer

Mayor Warren on March 24, 2020 announced that a part-time city employee working on food distribution tested positive for COVID-19. File photo

Over the first six days since schools were closed because of COVID-19, children have picked up than 56,000 meals from 16 sites across the city.

Mayor Lovely Warren doesn’t expect any slowdown, even after announcing March 24 that a part-time worker who was involved in distributing meals at two of the sites tested positive for the virus.

Warren said over the past week, the schools and recreation centers have reported an increase in meal distribution. “In some cases, people are waiting for us to get there and open in the morning. This is vital service we are providing in the community.”

The city is working with the Rochester City School District and Foodlink to distribute packaged meals that have been placed in bags.

Warren said the city learned the evening of March 23 that the city employee who had been at Adams Street and Frederick Douglass R-centers had contracted COVID-19.

She said workers wear personal protective equipment such as masks and gloves when they distribute the meals – and change the gear throughout their shift — and the children use hand sanitizer before getting a bag. The sites are cleaned each night. “We want the community to know we are taking every precaution.”

She said as soon as the city learned of the positive test, it moved to announce it to the public.

“I think it’s our job to be upfront and honest with people. We want to make sure they understand we are aware, that we are taking every precaution to make sure not only the children and families are safe, but also our employees.”

Warren said the worker did not show any symptoms while at work on March 19. Warren said the woman felt ill over the weekend and contact the health department, and she was tested for the virus. She has not been to work since March 19 and cannot return until she is cleared by a doctor after at least two weeks.

Warren said the Monroe County Department of Public Health completed tracing the contacts of the affected employee and determined she was not a risk to others at the centers. Warren said the woman is in quarantine at home and is recovering.

“Our team has assessed the protocols the city and its partners have in place at their distribution sites and determined that no one additional needs to be quarantined,” said Dr. Michael Mendoza, commissioner of public health. “All residents and employees can continue to visit and work at these sites, as needed, without any heightened risk of exposure to the disease.”

As of 4 p.m. March 24, the county reported 106 confirmed cases. People affected ranged in age from teens to 90s. Of the confirmed cases, 15 people were hospitalized, and nine of those were in intensive care.