SPOONER– Spooner Outlet announced on its Facebook page on Monday, July 13, that it is closed temporarily due to potential exposure to COVID-19.
"To clarify," a posting said several hours after the initial announcement, "one of the owners tested positive for COVID-19 on Saturday. We have instructed our staff to make arrangements for testing and to self-isolate until results are received."
Responses to the announcement were mixed on the Facebook page, some with concern as shoppers and others wishing the employees wellness.
In response, a subsequent posting from Spooner Outlet noted: "Bearing in mind that no employee of Spooner Outlet is qualified to dispense medical advice, I can tell you that the person learned of a possible exposure on Friday afternoon, at which point they promptly left the premises and got a test, which returned a positive result on Saturday.
"Regarding steps to take, I suggest taking advantage of the Spooner Essentia Covid information line at 1-833-494-0836," the post said.
Spooner Outlet advises through its Facebook page and a sign on the store's door to check their Facebook page for updates on reopening.
Some customers wondered whether they should be concerned about having been exposed to COVID-19, and asked about that by the Spooner Advocate, Cheri Nickell, Washburn County public health officer, said that if anyone from the public is exposed to COVID-19 at a business in the county, they would be notified personally or through a news release or health department Facebook post.
An "exposure" is defined as being within 6 feet for 15 minutes or more.
People are considered to be not at risk if they are not contacted about being a close contact to the positive case or a press release about exposure at the business has not been issued, she said.
"For community members who are concerned about COVID, particularly if you are in a higher risk group, my best advice is to consider avoiding businesses if the employees are not masking," Nickell said. "If you wear a mask, and the staff wear masks, it will greatly reduce your risk if there is COVID at a business.
"Also, half of our cases have been asymptomatic, which means they could easily have been missed, so relying on being told if you are a contact may not be much of a guarantee. Masking and social distancing are the two keys to prevention," she said.
COVID-19 can be passed along in lesser times than 15 minutes, and at greater distances than 6 feet.
"But it's a low risk exposure, and we don't make people stay home for that," Nickell said. "People should understand that they are at some level of risk every time they venture out in public, because it's a pandemic. That's why everyone should self-monitor for symptoms and get a test if they have any."
The county health department noted on its own Facebook page on Monday that the county reported one new case of COVID-19 over the weekend (not related to the case of the owner of Spooner Outlet).
"The individual is isolating at home and any close contacts have been notified by the Health Department," the department said.
Later the department added," This case was reported late Friday in an asymptomatic individual. There is no risk of community exposure related to this case. Continued positive results in asymptomatic individuals reaffirms the need to wear face masks when in public to help prevent the spread."