A worker at Fairfax County’s Merrifield Center for social services tested positive Friday for coronavirus, county officials said Sunday.
County health department officials said that nine other workers who were in contact with the infected employee have been asked to stay home and self-monitor for symptoms until April 2. Two of those workers are being tested, officials said.
In a letter sent to workers at the county Community Services Board, which operates inside the Merrifield facility, Fairfax officials said the worker did not have contact with anyone at the Emergency Services unit, where a county psychiatrist resigned on Friday over what he called inadequate measures to guard against infection.
The infected worker also did not have contact with member of the adult and youth walk-in assessment units, according to the letter, which health department officials provided to The Washington Post.
“In our investigation, we have identified a small number of staff and clients who were at risk of exposure to COVID-19 while the infected person was ill,” the letter said. “The Health Department has contacted those individuals.”
Fairfax officials said the infected worker lives in another jurisdiction, but did not provide other details. Several other workers inside the Merrifield Center who were notified by the county said that worker is a nurse who worked in the building’s medication clinic and lives in Prince William County. Those workers, who spoke on the condition of anonymity out of fear of losing their jobs, said there is a heightened level of anxiety inside the busy facility.
“I asked my manager all of last week, telling her: If you expect us to be here, we at least have to have hand sanitizer and masks,” said one employee in the building who is awaiting test results. “Otherwise, there has to be a way for us to telework and, for us, that wasn’t an option.”
Fairfax officials, who as of Sunday had reported 31 coronavirus cases, said they are encouraging county employees to telework where possible. The county has also allowed workers up to two weeks of paid administrative leave for missing work due to lack of child care, inability to work due to being quarantined and sickness due to exposure to the covid-19 virus.
The county is also excusing anyone with a compromised immune system, older adults, employees with serious health conditions, and those who report to facilities that have been closed.