Hodgdon Food-on-the-Run closed early yesterday afternoon after a worker at the dining establishment learned that a member of their household tested positive for COVID-19, according to an email from Patti Klos, director of dining and business services, sent out to Hodgdon employees on Tuesday night.
A university spokesperson declined to confirm whether the worker tested positive or negative for the virus, citing a policy against disclosing such information. However, Tufts Dining managers called employees later on Tuesday and stated that the worker tested negative.
Christine Tringale, an assistant sous-chef at Hodgdon and union shop steward, detailed the situation in an electronic message to the Daily.
She said that panic spread among the dining hall workers, upon learning that the co-worker had been in close contact with someone who tested positive for COVID-19. Managers at Hodgdon worked to develop a plan to respond to the incident and offered to send workers to other locations on campus.
“They were also telling workers we can send you to other locations,” Tringale wrote. “Some [workers] were in fear of leaving and getting in trouble.”
She added that UNITE HERE Local 26, the workers’ union, quickly became aware of the incident and responded.
“The union acted fast and checked the comfort level of workers,” Tringale said.
Klos indicated in the email that the facility was closed and disinfected in the afternoon.
“We believe that it’s safe for you to return to work,” Klos wrote.
She explained that the workers are now eligible to receive free COVID-19 testing three times per week, an increase from the two tests typically conducted.
“[By increasing testing] we believe that we are acting in a manner that will keep you – and the people we serve – disease-free,” she said.
Klos also wrote that the closing of the dining hall exceeded Massachusetts’ and the Board of Health’s requirements, citing that the other workers were not in direct contact with the individual who tested positive.
Tringale said that she will not return to work until she tests negative for COVID-19.
“[I] called out for tomorrow to wait for my negative test to return to work Thursday,” she said.
A Tufts Dining worker, who spoke on the condition of anonymity, echoed Tringale’s sentiments.
“I took a decision to come home because I didn’t want to be in contact with any member of the Tufts community when I’m not sure about my status,” they said.