MERIDIAN — UPDATE (3/31): Dutch Bros officials say they have reopened the location at which an employee with a positive COVID-19 test worked. The store is located on Calderwood in Meridian.
Dutch Bros is alerting customers that an employee tested positive for COVID-19, leading to a closure of a store and deep cleaning.
Officials with the drive-through coffee shop chain tell 6 On Your Side the employee told management of the positive test on Saturday, March 28. Once they received word of the possible exposure, the location on Calderwood in Meridian was shut down for cleaning. The company has since completed a third-party deep clean and sanitizing of the stand and they say they've reached out to local health officials to ensure they're taking every measure they need to.
The cleaning of the stand isn't the first action Dutch Bros has made to try and protect customers, according to a spokesperson with the company. Dutch Bros has also enforced increased handwashing and sanitizing, temporarily suspended the use of personal mugs at drive-throughs, temporarily closed walk-ins and walk-ups to its stores and instituted a cashless payment system, eliminating touch points between customers and baristas, or as the company calls them "broistas".
Officials say the affected employee is doing well and is on paid leave, starting a two week isolation period. All employees who worked with that employee have also been notified and are on paid leave, as well.
The Central District Health Department responded to an inquiry about the Dutch Bros situation with the following message:
Through our investigation, in the case of Dutch Bros. and the recent employee confirmed to have COVID-19 in the Treasure Valley, it is believed that the risk to customers is none to minimal. There is no current evidence that COVID-19 is transmitted through food and drink, and touching surfaces such as money or cups, plates, utensils is not a main mode of transmission. Everyone is encouraged to wash their hands or use hand sanitizer often (before eating) and avoid touching their eyes, nose and mouth.
Because we know there is community transmission of COVID-19, confirmed illness in people who work in a variety of industries can be expected. Each situation will be different and through its case investigations, CDH will work with the individual and their workplace to help determine who was at highest risk for exposure, and will contact them accordingly with follow up guidance.
Given community transmission of COVID-19, CDH encourages everyone to be aware of any changes to their health, including any mild symptoms. People should call their healthcare provider if needed, stay home if sick, frequently wash hands, and frequently disinfect surfaces - all things we have been identified to slow the spread.
Below are some FAQs that further address COVID-19 as it relates to transactions in a food establishment:
Q: Does coronavirus spread through food?
A: It is unlikely, and there is no current evidence, that the novel virus is transmitted through food or water. History with previous outbreaks of coronavirus such as SARS and MERS suggest that people do not likely become infected with coronavirus through food. However, limited research on the new coronavirus indicates that it can be shed in stool. It is not known at this time whether the virus can make people sick after it has passed through the digestive tract.
While we don’t believe the novel virus can spread through food, we do know other germs can. We highly encourage people to practice routine food safety procedures to reduce risk:
· Only handle food when healthy. People that are coughing, feverish, short of breath, vomiting or have diarrhea or other symptoms of illness should stay out of the kitchen.
· Wash hands to reduce risk of illness. Always wash hands thoroughly before and during food preparation.
· Rinse fruits and vegetables before cutting or eating. Rinse raw agricultural products, such as heads of lettuce, under running water prior to cutting or serving. Bagged lettuces that are ready-to-eat do not need additional washing.
· Thoroughly cook whatever you can. Cooking destroys many germs, including coronavirus.
· Clean and sanitize food contact surfaces. Wash, rinse, and sanitize cutting boards, tables, utensils, and other food contact surfaces often.
Q: What is the role of money in the spread of COVID-19?
A: According to CDC, money is not likely a primary mode of transmission of coronavirus, however, it may be possible to transfer the virus by touching a contaminated surface and then touching the mouth, nose, or eyes. Customers and employees are encouraged to properly wash their hands often throughout the day, including after handling money, and always before they eat or touch their eyes, nose, and mouth.
The FDA's website relating to COVID-19 gives some guidance about the safety of food with others handling those products, reading "currently, there is no evidence of food or food packaging being associated with transmission of COVID-19. However, the virus that causes COVID-19 is spreading from person-to-person in some communities in the U.S. The CDC recommends that if you are sick, stay home until you are better and no longer pose a risk of infecting others. Anyone handling, preparing and serving food should always follow safe food handling procedures, such as washing hands and surfaces often."