NEWPORT — On Monday evening, the operator of a Newport fast food restaurant confirmed what was already widely rumored on social media — it was closed due to a positive case of COVID-19.
In a statement Monday evening, June 22, McDonald’s owner Todd Tobey said they’d recently learned that four of the restaurant’s employees tested positive for the novel coronavirus. Signs went up last week at the 1300 N Coast Highway location alerting the public of a temporary closure, but no reason was given.
Tobey said the store was “immediately closed to perform a deep cleaning procedure and will remain closed until June 29.” He said they are working closely with Lincoln County Public Health and providing paid leave to employees.
“Our employees are required to wear PPE at all times to reduce the risk of transmission with the restaurant. Additionally, we have enforced rigorous handwashing procedures and maintaining social distancing to help ensure employee safety, as well as the safety of our customers,” Tobey’s statement reads. “We have also implemented wellness and temperature checks at the beginning of each shift to ensure our employees are feeling their best and have added protective barriers to limit contact in our restaurants.”
The outbreak did not meet the threshold for reporting by the Oregon Health Authority, as it involved fewer than five employees. It’s the third Newport restaurant to disclose an outbreak, after Local Ocean and Georgie’s Beachside Grill. Both of those restaurants closed preemptively and then tested all employees, their owners said.
Dr. Dean Sidelinger, health authority epidemiologist, recently said, without naming businesses, that there were four restaurants in the county experiencing outbreaks. It’s not clear if McDonald’s was among those to which Sidelinger referred.
A Lincoln County Public Health spokesperson said the health department was aware of the McDonalds outbreak prior to the public announcement. They told the News-Times via email, “When a restaurant worker tests positive for COVID-19, we work closely with the employer and the staff person to make sure they have all the necessary information to help prevent an outbreak. Going through the drive through is a lower risk exposure in terms of contact. When we are seeing transmission of COVID-19, the majority of the time it is from close contact, which we define as being within 6 feet of someone for 15 minutes or longer.”