An employee at the Noe Valley Whole Foods at 24th and Sanchez streets was recently diagnosed with COVID-19 and sent home to quarantine, a company spokesperson told Mission Local Tuesday.
“I can confirm that we had a team member that has been diagnosed, but I can’t share any details, just out of respect for the team member,” the store manager said. “Really, the only thing I can say is that we have a confirmed case and that we’re following all of the CDC and Health Department guidelines.”
Added the spokesperson: “We’ve been working closely with our store Team Members, and are supporting the diagnosed Team Member, who is in quarantine. Out of an abundance of caution, the store has performed a professional deep cleaning and disinfection, on top of our current enhanced sanitation measures.” The store was not closed for the deep-cleaning, so presumably it was done after hours.
The case at Whole Foods, as well as the recent Mission District study indicating that the residents who were COVID-positive were generally those that were leaving home every day to work, raises the whole question of why more adults who work with the public are not getting tested – especially when the city is using only a fraction of its testing capacity of 5,800 tests a day.
Whole Foods, like most other employers, does not require testing of its employees.
The company did not respond to questions asking if the current positive case meant that all employees at the store had been tested for COVID-19.
Whole Foods’ written statement linked to a website describing what the company is doing to care for employees during the pandemic, including things like “social distancing guidelines,” “enhanced daily cleanings,” and “facemasks.”
The word “testing” does not appear on the page.
The Department of Public Health said that when it is notified of a case, department procedure is to undertake a “thorough case investigation and contact tracing process.”
People who came in close contact with the infected person would be advised to be tested, regardless of whether they have any symptoms.
“Without compromising patient privacy, DPH may notify an employee’s manager about the case and provide guidance on cleaning and other prevention measures for the building,” the Health Department said in a statement. “Those who work in San Francisco are encouraged to get tested if they believe they have been exposed to the virus.”
The city does not currently appear to have guidance on how often essential workers should be tested.
In San Francisco, COVID-19 testing is available free of charge to all essential workers in the city, regardless of where they live or if they are currently experiencing symptoms.
For city residents who are not essential workers, testing is also available free of charge if one symptom is present, or if someone has been in close contact with a COVID-19 positive person. However, some testing sites are also providing tests to residents who would like a test even if they don’t have symptoms.