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CBS News 8 - San Diego, CA News Station - KFMB Channel 8 | cbs8.com

San Diego County AT&T employee tests positive for coronavirus

The positive test was confirmed by the health department. Several stores were closed for cleaning "out of an abundance of caution".

SAN DIEGO COUNTY, Calif. — AT&T closed several San Diego retail stores on Wednesday after an employee had a positive test for the coronavirus, according to an AT&T spokesman. The stores re-opened Thursday.

Anthony Brionez saw a team of cleaners at the AT&T store at Chula Vista Center as he went to work Wednesday. 

"I seen [sic] them steam vacuuming the floors. They were doing crazy wipe-downs on all the phones, windows and all of that," he said.

The San Diego County Health and Human Services Agency said the worker recently returned home from Italy, where some regions are in the midst of a COVID-19 outbreak, and appears to not have followed the Centers for Disease Control's advice to stay home in self-quarantine for 14 days after returning the United States and practice social distancing.

Five AT&T employees and two of the worker's family members are under self-quarantine at home and so far aren't showing symptoms of the virus. Health officials do not believe a larger quarantine is needed.

"The contact was so limited and focused during a particular meeting that occurred for a limited amount of time, so hence we're confident the appropriate people have been identified and are under home quarantine," said Dr. Nick Yphantides, the county's Chief Medical Officer.

On Wednesday, AT&T closed the Chula Vista store, where the employee worked, and stores in Escondito, San Marcos, Oceanside, National City and Vista where the others at the meeting recently visited.

"Out of an abundance of caution, [Wednesday] we closed and deep cleaned several stores in the area that this employee or colleagues in close contact to this employee may have visited recently,” explained Fletcher Cook, a spokesperson for AT&T, in an emailed statement to News 8. 

Despite the recent cleaning and effort to contain the spread by health officials, HHSA said community spread is an eventuality even outside of this incident.

"Based on what is happening in other parts of the us we expect its just a matter of time," said Yphantides, who urged residents to prepare similar to how they would prepare for an earthquake.

Brionez said he sometimes eats lunch with AT&T staff in Chula Vista. 

"I'm very concerned," he said. "I have a 1-year-old at home and it's nerve-wracking to be literally on top of a possible coronavirus." 

San Diego County health officials said while the employee works in Chula Vista, they live in Orange County. The employee is the second confirmed case of coronavirus in Orange County. Both people recently traveled abroad. Neither county has seen any cases of person-to-person spread.

On Thursday, Chula Vista Elementary School District sent out a letter, in part, to parents and staff:

"Our District has been informed that a parent of a pre-school student at one of our schools is being monitored and quarantined by the San Diego County Health and Human Services Agency (HHSA) because of exposure to an individual who has a case of COVID-19. At this time, there is no indication that the parent has contracted COVID-19, and the HHSA has indicated there is a low probability that the individual will contract it. Due to the way the COVID-19 virus is spread, per current protocol (directed by the Centers for Disease Control), the HHSA only quarantines an individual if they have had direct and close contact with a person tested positive for the virus. The parent made the decision to keep their child home from Feaster Charter School during the 14-day quarantine and monitoring period, so there is no risk to the school, students or staff. It is critical to remain calm and reasonable during this time. According to HHSA, at no point have any of our students or staff members been subject to exposure to the COVID-19 virus from this parent or student."

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