County Health Department Praises Restaurant after COVID Exposure
An employee at Paradise Falls Restaurant and Casino has tested positive for the coronavirus.
In response, owner Tom McLaughlin voluntarily closed the restaurant until further notice, as was explained on the restaurant’s Facebook page.
According to Missoula City County Health Officer Ellen Leahy, the restaurant acted swiftly and responsibly.
“They wanted to be very transparent with their patrons,” said Leahy. “They actually put up a Facebook post and kept updating it as we went through our investigation with them, so I thought that was certainly very cooperative and helped us move quickly while keeping their patrons informed.”
Leahy said the employee affected also took the proper steps after becoming ill.
“The employee had already alerted the employer when we started working with Paradise Falls,” she said. “They were not required to close, but they voluntarily decided to close. They gave us all the information we needed to see who the coworkers were and then to understand better if there may have been any public exposure.”
The employee told the health department that there were a few instances after restrictions were relaxed somewhat they she may have forgotten to wear a mask, a point that Leahy also praised.
“It was important that there was also honesty in reporting that inconsistent use,” she said. “We need to know that in order to know who may have been exposed and at what levels, so that’s actually appreciated, but we’re glad to see that they’re going back to consistent mask use, and that’s what everyone should be doing.”
Leahy was also asked about community protests directed at her and the health department regarding the restrictions and cancellations that have occurred during the pandemic, particularly on social media and on the phone.
“There are some pretty nasty comments,” she said. “I would say much differently than what we’re used to seeing from this community. Some of that comes with the territory, but if people continue on, that is, if that small minority continues on, we still have to respond, and that does take up staff time.
(here is the Facebook Post from Paradise Falls on Friday)
After a conversation with the health department, we have learned that an employee of ours has tested positive for Covid-19. Out of an abundance of caution we will temporarily close and work with health officials to arrange testing for our employees and assist with contact tracing in any way we can. Prior to every shift we have conducted temperature and symptom screenings and at any time if an employee has felt sick, we have covered any expense with getting tested at a local clinic. The employee called prior to a shift, and did not come in to work but rather went and was tested. This proactive measure is how the employee was diagnosed. We are limited in what information we know or can share, however we will be as transparent as possible. When testing and other measures the health department conducts are completed, we will consult with them on reopening. When we reopen, all employees will return to wearing masks, and continue to follow all proactive screening measures. As always thanks for your continued patronage and support, and we look forward to serving you again down the road.
We have worked with the county health department to identify any close contacts and those employees will be instructed to quarantine by the health department. We are able to be open with our remaining staff right now, however before we reopen we want to work with environmental health on any extra cleaning precautions or policies we should consider.
If you are a customer who has frequented PFalls in the last couple of weeks, the health department has not yet identified customers as high risk. Their message for us to pass along to our customers: You are not required to quarantine - however, if symptoms develop act on them. We will keep updating this thread as we can.
The Missoula City County Health Dept. has released a press statement (shared in the comments). As indicated in the release, potential times of exposure were:
Saturday June 20 4-9:30pm
Sunday June 21 8-10am
Monday June 22 4-8pm
The employee does work in the front of house, meaning they interact with customers. If you were here during one of those times and think you may have been exposed, please call the health dept at 406-258-INFO.
We can't thank you enough for your support.