By Tom Grote / The Star-News
More employees at Shore Lodge and Whitetail Club in McCall have tested positive for COVID-19, resort President Tom Garcia said Monday.
The employees contracted the virus after being tested by Shore Lodge and Whitetail earlier this spring and found not to have the virus, Garcia said.
The number of confirmed COVID-19 cases in Valley County surged from three last week to 13 as of Wednesday, according to Central District Health.
The new cases were the first in Valley County to be caused by community transmission, which is when the person who falls ill has not traveled recently or had contact with a known infected person, the health department said.
Employees had contact with guests
One of the infected persons confirmed last week required hospitalization, the department said.
Garcia declined to disclose how many of the 10 additional cases were Shore Lodge or their specific positions in order to protect the privacy of the workers.
Some of the infected employees worked in restaurants at Shore Lodge, a public facility.
The employees had contact with guests, but precautions put into place by Shore Lodge and Whitetail avoided exposing the guests to the virus, Garcia said.
Guests were not within six feet of infected employees for more that 15 minutes, which is the standard to be considered exposed to the virus, Central District Health Public Information Officer Christine Myron said.
The employees have been placed in quarantine as well as 36 employees who were found to potentially exposed to the virus, he said. The employees are being paid during their isolation and will return to work over the next week.
Shore Lodge and Whitetail tested all 187 of its permanent employees as part of its reopening on May 16.
Additional tests were conducted in early June on 141 seasonal employees who recently arrived, during which one employee was found to have COVID-19 but without symptoms.
Those tests led resort managers to conclude the new cases were acquired in the community rather than brought in from the outside, Garcia said.
“We can control what we can control while at work, to the best of our ability, but I cannot control what happens outside our oversight,” he said.
Shore Lodge limits hours
The new cases have led Shore Lodge to limit the hours of their public gathering spaces.
The Bar tavern and The Cutwater restaurant are both taking last orders at 9:30 p.m. and The Narrows steak house has been closed until further notice, Garcia said. Early closures also have been implemented at Whitetail Club.
The number of appointments at The Cove day spa at Shore Lodge has been cut by half and guests are required to wear masks and have temperature checks. No manicures, pedicures or facials are being offered, Garcia said.
Shore Lodge is booked to capacity with overnight guests over the Fourth of July weekend, but nearly all of the lodge’s special events for the summer have been canceled, including weddings and corporate meetings, he said.
The lodge urged some of those planning larger gatherings to cancel due to the risk of spreading the virus, even though it would cost the lodge revenue, Garcia said.
The downturn led Shore Lodge to hire about 40 fewer seasonal workers than planned, he said.
Garcia said he can be a resource for those in the community that have questions or are looking for advice with protocol initiatives for their businesses.
“I am here to assist and help in any way I can,” he said.
Lardo’s Grill & Saloon in McCall has closed for two weeks after a kitchen employee tested positive for COVID-19, owner Jarad Howard said Tuesday.
The employee did not have contact with the public, but the closure will allow all employees to be tested, Howard said.
“We wanted to be pro-active and use extra caution,” he said. “The employees are worried and concerned, so we decided to give everybody a break.”