A second outbreak of COVID-19 has been reported at a workplace in Durango, but health officials say the risk to the public is virtually nonexistent.
Brian Devine with San Juan Basin Public Health said two people tested positive for COVID-19 at Tile Art of Durango.
According to state guidelines, an “outbreak” is defined as two or more cases at a location in a 14-day period.
“The word outbreak conjures an image of dozens of cases,” Devine said. “That’s just not the case here. ... This meets the technical definition of an outbreak, but the risk to the public is zero to minimal.”
Paul Beasley, owner of Tile Art of Durango, said one of his employees came to work June 22 feeling fine. Later that night, however, he started to show symptoms and was told to quarantine.
It turns out, Beasley said, the employee was infected from an outside source June 19.
Beasley also asked any staff members who came in contact with the employee to stay home and quarantine. He had his entire staff of 15 people get tested at Mercy Regional Medical Center on June 29.
Only one other person who had contact with the infected employee tested positive.
Tile Art of Durango has two locations: a showroom in the Grandview area and a fabrication shop in Bodo Industrial Park, where the two employees were based. Beasley said staff at the showroom did not have contact with employees in Bodo.
“We shut it down right away,” he said. “It was very strict.”
Beasley said Mercy told him it would take five days to get test results back. Instead, he said it took nine days, and he had incredible difficulty getting information from Mercy about the status of the tests.
During this time, Beasley said he shut down his store and continued to pay employees. He estimated he lost $30,000 to $40,000 because of the ordeal.
“I think that’s just incomprehensible,” he said.
A request for comment from Mercy late Thursday was not immediately returned.
The results came back Tuesday. This week, his staff also completed a 14-day quarantine period and are now back at work.
The stigma of the ordeal, however, has had an impact on his business, Beasley said.
“It’s just been absolutely horrific,” he said. “I spend all day long explaining and defending. It feels like, talking to some of these people, that we created COVID. But we’ve been very stringent throughout all this.”
Beasley said since the beginning of the outbreak, his business has implemented measures to social distance, sanitize and wear masks.
Devine, too, said Tile Art of Durango’s measures went a long way to confine the outbreak to just two staff members.
“The measures they took to reduce contact between employees ... really helped here,” he said. “It’s good to see the steps that they took limited it.”
Devine said outbreaks are considered active for 28 days, which is why the outbreak at Tile Art of Durango is still listed as active. The state database also lists an additional “probable” case in the outbreak, but he said that has since been ruled out.
The only other reported outbreak in La Plata County has been at the construction site of the new hotel at 1111 Camino del Rio, where five workers contracted the virus. That outbreak has been considered resolved as of June 29.