Thirty-six Carmel Street Dept. workers are back at work after testing negative for COVID-19.
The city quarantined the employees – more than half of the department’s workforce – after learning that many of them had purchased snacks and drinks at Circle K at 545 S. Range Line Road, where an employee tested positive for the disease.
“The street department (employees) work in pairs, and we learned that at least 13 had been in that station over the last few weeks,” Carmel spokesman Dan McFeely stated in an email. “From there, they would return to their trucks and potentially spread the virus to their co-workers, so that is why we placed 26 on leave and are having them all tested. That number jumped to 36 the next day as we learned about more.”
All of the street department employees tested negative for the virus, but the city plans to have them wear personal protective equipment in the near future in case they received a false negative test and become symptomatic later.
Laurence Myre Leroux, global communications advisor for Circle K parent company Alimentation Couche-Tard, said the employee received the positive diagnosis on March 26.
“We received no further guidance from the health care facility or local health authority to make any additional public notices,” she stated in an email. “However, as part of our policy, we did immediately close the store to professionally clean and sanitize it and posted signage to indicate that the store was temporarily closed because of a confirmed COVID-19 case. The store re-opened on March 30 with alternate staffing.”
Circle K has reinforced cleaning procedures in stores and at fuel pumps and is providing supplies and procedures to keep employees safe. Employees have been asked to stay home if they feel any symptoms associated with COVID-19, and the company is offering emergency sick pay to enable employees to get tested if necessary.
Carmel’s street department has 52 full-time employees with four working from home and the rest alternating shifts. It also employs seven part-time employees who are not on leave.