NC legislative worker tests positive for coronavirus

Posted April 1, 2020 5:59 p.m. EDT
Updated April 3, 2020 11:32 a.m. EDT

North Carolina Legislative Building

— State legislative members and staffers were alerted Wednesday afternoon that a legislative cafeteria worker has tested positive for coronavirus.

The message from Legislative Services Director Paul Coble did not identify the worker.

"A member of the cafeteria staff was immediately sent home last Thursday morning after showing signs of illness. The employee received the positive test results today," Coble said in the email. "That employee, and those working with her, have been placed on leave and advised to self-quarantine for the time period established by the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) and the N.C. Department of Health and Human Services (NC DHHS).

In his email to employees, Coble called the announcement "troubling news" but promised "aggressive action to contain the spread of the virus."

"As of today, the cafeteria will be closed indefinitely and undergo a thorough cleaning to ensure any trace of the virus is removed," Coble said, adding that the snack bars in the basements of both buildings will also undergo a thorough cleaning and would go take-out only starting Thursday.

Coble didn't respond to WRAL News messages Wednesday or Thursday asking why the cafeteria wasn't shut down after the staffer was sent home, or why the cafeteria and separate legislative snack bar didn't move to take-out only when Gov. Roy Cooper ordered restaurants and bars to close down dine-in service March 17.

The General Assembly's food services manager, Steve Wiseman, referred all questions to Coble.

Coble told The Associated Press in an email that Cooper's restriction didn't apply to the legislature's eateries, citing "separation of powers" between state government's three branches.

Most legislators have not been in the building since before the primary elections on March 3. All legislative staff who could work from home were asked to do so beginning March 16.

The cafeteria's seating area is fairly large and generally doesn't see much traffic outside of session. The snack bar is significantly smaller, with a handful of tables.

WRAL Statehouse Reporter Travis Fain contributed to this report.

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