Berrien County Health Department and Redamak's work together after three employees contract COVID-19 - Copy

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NEW BUFFALO, Mich. -- Redamak’s in New Buffalo took to Facebook to announce that three of their employees had tested positive for COVID-19.

In the post, the restaurant writes that these employees last worked over the weekend of July 27 and that they believe this was an “isolated incident outside of our workplace environment.”

The choice to inform the public – a courtesy by Redamak’s to its customers, as Gov. Gretchen Whitmer’s order does not require businesses to inform the public when a staff member tests positive for COVID-19.

Gov. Whitmer’s order does, however, require businesses to contact their local health department within 24 hours of notice. Upon consultation with the Berrien County Health Department, it was determined that Redamak’s could remain open. But – before any business in this situation can do that, they are required by the state to do a deep cleaning of their establishment.

“However it doesn’t require the restaurant to close for any certain amount of time,” said Gillian Conrad, Communications Manager at the Berrien County Health Department. “In the executive order, the language does say ‘deep cleaning can be performed overnight’ so I think restaurants are making business decisions about when that deep cleaning occurs.”

Once the health department receives notice from a business of a COVID-positive employee, they then focus on contact tracing with those workers.

“This involves an interview with that individual who has tested positive to know who they’ve been around so we can contact them to let them know they need to quarantine,” said Conrad.

Conrad also said since the virus is so easily spread, it’s important for businesses to prepare for when they get a COVID-positive employee, not if. However, she also reminds residents that while there is always a risk of contracting COVID-19 when going in public, staff at restaurants – for example – aren’t the people you’re typically in close contact with.

“That is people who are spending more than 15 minutes with another person who’s COVID-positive within a six-foot space,” said Conrad. “Generally speaking, in a restaurant you’re not having that close contact but it’s really the people you’re sitting with having that meal, those are your close contacts, it’s not the waitress or the greeter who you pass by.”

Employers are also encouraged to opt into the Berrien County Health Department’s online database called “Back 2 Work Safe.”

“This provides them with a space to not only track the number of ill employees in their workplace, but also fulfill that requirement of notifying the health department of COVID-positive individuals within 24 hours,” said Conrad.

The website to register for the database is back2worksafe.com

As for Redamak’s, the restaurant said in its Facebook post it will continue to follow CDC and Berrien County Health Department guidelines and provide their customers with updates. The restaurant also has a COVID-19 Preparedness Plan on their website.  

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