Local News

Raleigh restaurant professionally cleaned after coronavirus patient ate there

Posted March 4, 2020 9:00 p.m. EST
Updated March 5, 2020 8:41 p.m. EST

— A day after being notified by public health officials that a man with COVID-19 was in So•ca last weekend, professional cleaning crews were at the Raleigh restaurant on Thursday to eradicate any trace of coronavirus.

So•ca posted on its Facebook page Wednesday night that the Wake County Division of Public Health has contacted the Cameron Village restaurant earlier in the day to inform managers that a man who later tested positive for the new coronavirus dined there last Saturday.

According to Sean Degnan, the restaurant's owner, the unidentified man sat in a private room. Nobody sat in the area since Saturday, and the restaurant provided a list of any guests or employees who may have interacted with the man to public health officials.

Restaurant workers have seen physicians in recent days as a precaution and checked out fine, Degnan said, adding that they continue to monitor their own health.

So•ca staffers bleached and sanitized the area on Wednesday before opening for dinner, he said.

"We were able to bleach, rinse and sanitize every piece of silver, glassware, plate, table, door handle, touch screen, etc., and Lysol every chair and cushion before dinner service," he said in a statement on Wednesday. "You name it, it got cleaned and sanitized today. This is the cleanest restaurant in the Triangle tonight."

On Thursday, workers from Enviro-Master of Raleigh, wearing protective suits, deep-cleaned the whole restaurant.

"We are a restroom hygiene company. We're a national health and safety company," Enviro-Master owner Clay Whitehurst said.

The company uses an electrostatic sprayer to cover surfaces with a hospital-grade germacide. Whitehurst said the chemical kills 47 varieties of viruses, including coronaviruses.

"[It's] nothing that we don't already do. We got ahead of this, I think, four or five years ago," he said.

Whitehurst said Enviro-Master has seen a spike in service requests in recent days.

"We're definitely getting more calls. A lot of it is just being precautious, educating the public," he said.

Arina Sukhanova, who works at Parlor, a salon in Cameron Village, said she's worried about the virus being so close by.

"I cleaned the whole salon today. I was, like, freaking out," Sukhanova said Thursday, adding that she's concerned about eating at So•ca.

"I wouldn't consider going there for lunch today," she said.

A nearby resident doesn't share her concerns.

"It's a bad virus, and the fact that I live across the street and somebody ate here, that's OK," said Erica, who declined to give her last name.

Degnan said he feels comfortable opening the restaurant to customers, noting that he's following the list of best practices issued by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention regarding sanitizing the place and preventing the spread of germs. He said one party has already canceled for next week, however.

Despite the precautions being taken, some local residents remain concerned about the days that passed between the time the COVID-19 patient ate at So•ca and when the restaurant was notified.

Wake County public health officials have refused to provide information on where the man went during the week between his first symptoms and when he was tested for coronavirus.

"There's a chance it'll spread," one man said, noting that, if someone else caught the virus from the man at So•ca that night and then went elsewhere, the virus could keep spreading.

Most of So•ca's customers have been very supportive of the restaurant for being transparent about its connection with the COVID-19 patient, Degnan said. So far, it is the only business that has come forward on its own.

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