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Four workers at El Jebel grocer test positive for COVID-19, though store not believed to be source

Scott Condon, Aspen Times
Shippers line up outside the El Jebel City Market
Aspen Times file

Health departments in the Roaring Fork Valley are undertaking contact tracing after employees at the El Jebel City Market tested positive for COVID-19 last week, officials said Sunday.

“At this particular store we have four confirmed positives,” City Market spokeswoman Jessica Trowbridge said Sunday night. She said the source of infection was not the store.

Eagle County Public Health Department did not identify the place of business because it is not deemed a public risk.

“There is not a public health concern at the location where these people worked,” Eagle County communications director Kris Widlak said.

She said it is believed the employees became exposed to the coronavirus in gatherings outside of the store.

“The place of employment was not the source,” Widlak said.

Trowbridge said City Market has an extensive protocol for preventing the spread of COVID-19. Employees wear facial coverings, Plexiglas is placed between cashiers and customers, there are limits to the number of customers in the store at one time, social distancing inside the store is encouraged and additional cleaning has been undertaken since the pandemic started.

In addition to the enhanced cleaning by the company, it has hired a third-party vendor for additional cleaning at the El Jebel story since it learned of the positive cases, she said.

That third party cleaned the El Jebel store Tuesday, Saturday night and was headed back Sunday night, Trowbridge said Sunday evening.

City Market learned that two of its associates tested positive Tuesday. The other two employees tested positive sometime prior to that, though Trowbridge didn’t have the exact date. She declined to name the departments where the employees work to adhere to medical privacy laws for those infected.

An undisclosed number of other employees who may have come into contact with those who tested positive are in quarantine, she said. The company’s emergency leave policy provides them with up to two weeks of paid time off.

City Market believes the El Jebel grocery store is safe for employees and customers due to its protocols.

“Nothing is more important to us than the safety of our customers, employees and communities,” Trowbridge said.

While not naming City Market as the business where employees tested positive, Widlak said the place of employment was cooperating with health officials. Contact tracers with Eagle, Pitkin and Garfield counties are undertaking the arduous task of trying to track down consistent and casual contacts that the four employees have had.

After months of social distancing, Memorial Day Weekend was marked by numerous high school graduation gatherings in the Roaring Fork Valley.

A Facebook post on the Basalt Community Page on Sunday morning that said, “COVID-19 has been found in the El Jebel City Market” captured widespread attention. Trowbridge said she saw the post and stressed that the health department has determined City Market is not the source of the outbreak.

scondon@aspentimes.com


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