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COVID-19 outbreak reported at popular burger joint in downtown Durango

State health department says two staff members tested positive
The Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment said there was an outbreak of COVID-19 at Grassburger in Durango. An “outbreak” is defined as two or more cases at a location in a 14-day period.

A popular burger joint in downtown Durango reported an outbreak of COVID-19 cases, according to the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment.

The health department said two people on Grassburger’s staff tested positive for the virus. The outbreak was determined Oct. 1, according to state records, but CDPHE updates its list of active outbreaks only once a week, on Wednesdays.

According to state guidelines, an “outbreak” is defined as two or more cases at a location in a 14-day period.

Grassburger CFO Ed Kileen provided a written statement to The Durango Herald that said the staff members worked overlapping shifts from Sept. 25 to Sept. 30.

Anyone who may have had contact with the employees were identified, received quarantine instructions and were recommended to get tested.

One of the Grassburger employees worked in a position interacting with customers from Sept. 28 to Sept. 30, before developing symptoms. Kileen said the employee was wearing a face covering and gloves, and did not come in close contact with customers.

Kileen said Grassburger employs about 75 people in its locations in Durango and Albuquerque, and this is the first incident of positive cases since the pandemic began in March.

“Thankfully, both of our positive team members are recovering well at home and as an additional precaution, several other employees are following quarantine protocol as well,” Kileen said. “We will continue to work with (San Juan Basin Public Health) to ensure we take all necessary steps to resolve this issue completely.”

Claire Ninde, spokeswoman for San Juan Basin Public Health, La Plata County’s health department, said in an email that with most disease investigations, it is impossible to determine with absolute confidence when transmission occurs.

“La Plata County is known to have sustained community transmission, and as in all outbreaks there is a possibility that transmission occurred outside the business,” she said.

Ninde said throughout the pandemic, Grassburger has been following best practices.

“Grassburger has followed protocols for infection control including disinfecting, requiring mask for staff and customers, implementing employee health screenings, etc.,” she said. “As such, SJBPH is considering this low risk to the community. ... All known contacts have been identified and contacted.”

In an interview with the Herald, Kileen said the restaurant, located in the 700 block of Main Avenue, has remained open and performed extra deep cleaning.

“This is kind of the new normal we’re living in,” he said. “It’s a challenging time for everybody.”

It was reported Wednesday that one person on Steamworks Brewing Co.’s staff tested positive for COVID-19, prompting the restaurant to close through at least Friday.

The outbreak at Grassburger is La Plata County’s only active outbreak, according to state data. Three previous outbreaks have been resolved.


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