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Food service worker in Waterbury tests positive for coronavirus, mayor says the bagged meals are safe to eat


WATERBURY, Conn. (WTNH) —  Over the last couple of days, the number of people testing positive for COVID-19 in Waterbury has jumped to near 90. Some of those positives have impacted the city’s food service program.

The program has provided more than 74,000 bags of free breakfasts and lunches given out by the school district and the city to help ease the burden on families with children during the outbreak who normally get their meals in public schools.

The Superintendent, Dr. Verna Ruffin, sent a letter to families informing them that a member of the instructional staff at Gilmartin Elementary School tested positive for the coronavirus; same for two members of the district’s food services staff — one at Wilby HIgh School, the other at Waterbury Arts Magnet School.

Part of the letter reads:”While I understand this information may cause fear and anxiety, please know that the Waterbury Department of Public Health is engaged and communicating with both individuals.”

Mayor Neil O’Leary told News 8 after that letter went home to students and parents, another worker also tested positive. That prompted News 8 to ask if these free bagged meals are safe for children to eat.

“The food is safe,” the mayor said. “Yes it is.”

Mayor O’Leary explained, the workers were not directly involved in the preparation or packaging of the food.

“We feel very strongly that this is not a situation that we’re worried about contaminating the food at all,” the mayor said. “We’re told by our Food Services Department that they followed all CDC guidelines.”

As for the workers, the mayor says they are fine. He reports they are at home under self- quarantine.

Also in Waterbury, the coronavirus has now reached its way into the police department. Chief Fernando Spagnolo reported two officers have tested positive for COVID-19. They’re awaiting test results for 13 other officers.

The chief says they’ve taken steps to protect the force. “We’ve changed the operations here significantly,” Chief Spagnolo said. “We are practicing social distancing internally within the department and externally on calls. We are providing PPE (personal protection equipment) and sanitizing solutions for our officers.”

The PD is also sanitizing police cars at the end of every shift. And they’re getting help from the community. While News 8 was at headquarters Tuesday, a group from the local Home Depot dropped off face masks and cleaning supplies.

“We’re really grateful for that,” said Chief Spagnolo.

He also has a message of reassurance to people in The Brass City during this difficult time: “I think we’re going to be okay.”

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