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Employee at RI Vets Home tests positive for coronavirus

Target 12

BRISTOL, R.I. (WPRI) – An employee at the R.I. Veterans Home has been diagnosed with the coronavirus, according to a state spokesperson.

The staff member was diagnosed over the weekend, said David Levesque, a spokesperson for the state’s Office of Health and Human Services. He declined to say what the person does at the home.

The employee was “screened at work” on March 25 and sent home. “The Home was notified on March 28 that the employee tested positive,” Levesque said in an email. 

The Bristol facility houses nearly 200 wartime veterans at its 250,000-square-foot facility.

“The Veterans Home identified six employees who interacted with the employee who tested positive,” Levesque said. “In consultation with RIDOH, the Veterans Home notified the six employees of potential exposure and they were told to quarantine if they have any symptoms.”

“None of the employees reported symptoms, and while at work, the six employees must wear a N95 mask,” he added.

R.I. Dept. of Health Director Dr. Nicole Alexander-Scott said ideally they would want people who have potentially been exposed to self-quarantine, but it’s trickier with healthcare facilities.

“When you have critical infrastructure employees who are needed to help care for people in a healthcare facility or a congregate care facility, we have to approach it differently,” she said. “Because we need the facility to have the healthcare workforce they need to function.”

Alexander-Scott said they are working with the Veterans Home to monitor the staff members, including doing screenings during their shifts.

Tim White (twhite@wpri.com) is the Target 12 investigative reporter and host of Newsmakers for WPRI 12 and Fox Providence. Follow him on Twitter and on Facebook

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