Food Bank of the Albemarle closed its Elizabeth City facilities Thursday for a through cleaning after a staff member reported testing positive for COVID-19.
Liz Reasoner, the food bank’s executive director, announced the temporary closing Wednesday evening in a press release.
“One of our staff reported to us on Wednesday evening that they tested positive for the coronavirus, and in accordance with CDC (Centers for Disease Control) protocol and the safety of our staff, volunteers, and the people we serve, we’ve decided to close temporarily,” Reasoner said.
The food bank will be closed to the public, staff and volunteers starting Thursday, Reasoner said. She expects the agency will reopen on Wednesday, but not until “satisfactory cleaning measures ... and contact tracing for staff has been completed,” she said.
A professional cleaning company has been hired to thoroughly clean food bank facilities, Reasoner said.
“The facility will be sanitized in all areas affected, and staff and volunteers are being instructed to quarantine and make an appointment to receive a COVID-19 test,” she said. “We anticipate resuming operations as soon as possible but only when it is safe to do so.”
In the meantime, food bank clients needing food have several other sources in the area, Reasoner said. Those include the food pantries operated by the Salvation Army, First Baptist Church, Samuel Chapel and the Church of God of Prophecy, among others.
To find the nearest food pantry, go to the food bank’s website at www.afoodbank.org. Using the agency locator feature, put in your zip code and a list of pantries will appear, along with their locations and phone number.
“I know our partners will step up while we are addressing the health and well-being of our team,” Reasoner said.
Reasoner also noted that Albemarle Food Pantry was open on Tuesday and the mobile food pantries at Sheep Harney Elementary School and in South Mills were held Wednesday evening.
“Hopefully, this will carry folks through until next Friday, (Jan.) 22nd, when our pantry will reopen or they can visit one of our local partners,” she said. “There should be no reason anyone goes hungry.”
Reasoner said persons who may have been in close contact with the affected staff member have been informed of the employee’s positive test for COVID-19. Others who have been at the food bank within the past five days and have COVID-related concerns should contact her at 252-335-4035, ext. 110 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
The Food Bank will continue health safety measures it introduced in April, such as conducting temperature checks on staff and volunteers upon their arrival, Reasoner said. Staff and volunteers will also continue to be required to use gloves when packing and sorting food, wear facemasks, and wash their hands before entering the building, and after food and restroom breaks. Also, high-touch common surfaces will continue to be sanitized.
“We are also working with Albemarle Regional Health Services for guidance on working with staff and volunteers so that we can safely resume operations as soon as possible,” Reasoner added.