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Pair of lumber workers in Jay test positive

Two other Ward Lumber employees in quarantine

JAY — Two people who work at a local lumber company’s Jay location have now tested positive for COVID-19. Two others were placed in precautionary quarantine and are awaiting test results.

The news of the employees’ positive results were announced by the owner of Ward Lumber, Jay Ward, this past Thursday and Friday.

The first positive result was received on Thursday. The person started experiencing symptoms of COVID-19 after work on Friday, June 26, according to Ward. That employee’s test results came in nearly a week later, on July 2. The second positive result was received on Friday. This person started experiencing COVID-19 symptoms last Tuesday while working, left work and has been self-quarantined at home ever since, according to Ward.

Both employees had been working in the same “large office space,” Ward said in a YouTube video posted on Friday.

“These two individuals, one, have been very diligent all along in wearing their face coverings, so exposure is greatly minimized by that,” he said.

Neither employee is directly involved with customer service, nor do they work in the Jay warehouse, according to Ward.

“These two individuals serve our professional customers, so they have a select and limited group of customers they work with,” he said.

Two other employees were since placed in quarantine and are working from home as they await test results, according to Ward.

“Essex County has completed their interviews with these two individuals,” he said. “Anyone who the county deems to be of risk has been contacted already. If you haven’t received contact from Essex County, at this juncture on Friday afternoon, it appears the county has deemed everyone not contacted as not at risk.

“If you have been in our store in Jay — this doesn’t effect our Malone store — if you’ve been in our store in Jay, you can send me copies of your transaction and I can look into who served you, but know that it’s not likely to be these two individuals.”

Both the Jay store and the Jay Lumber offices there have been professionally cleaned and disinfected multiple times since the results came in, and Ward said he also plans to install new filters in the location’s air filtration system, though they were changed at the end of last year.

“We continue to evaluate all options to protect our employee team first and foremost as well as our community,” Ward wrote in a message posted to the company’s Facebook page on Friday. “This is a fluid situation and I will update our employee team first and then the community as the situation continues to evolve.

“I had talked with the Essex County Department of Health (DOH) months ago about our efforts to be proactive in the face of the pandemic. Yesterday morning, upon learning of the first positive test result, I again talked at length with the DOH regarding our situation. I reviewed with the DOH all the actions and precautions we have taken at Ward Lumber and they were pleased and supportive of everything we’ve done and are continuing to do to prevent the spread of the virus. I contacted the DOH again today to offer assistance in the contacting tracing process and inquire if there were additional steps we needed to take and was advised that we are operating in an exemplary way.”

As of this past Thursday, the most recent report from the Essex County Health Department — released prior to the second Ward Lumber employee’s result — showed at least one active case of COVID-19 in the county. As of Sunday, in Franklin County, there were at least six active cases of COVID-19.

Statewide, there were 533 new positive cases of COVID-19 on Saturday, according to the state Department of Health. At least 397,131 New Yorkers have tested positive for COVID-19 since March.

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