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Third Publix employee from Forsyth County tests positive for COVID-19
Publix notified employees at its store at 580 Atlanta Road on Thursday, April 16, 2020, that an employee tested positive for COVID-19. (GoogleMaps)

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The employee of a Publix in Cumming has tested positive for COVID-19, the third one in Forsyth County since the novel coronavirus outbreak began.

The Florida-based company notified employees at the store, located in the Cumming 400 Shopping Center at 580 Atlanta Road, on Thursday, April 16, according to an email obtained by the Forsyth County News.

All employees who worked directly with the employee who tested positive are at home under self-quarantine, the company said in the email. The store was cleaned and disinfected according to guidelines from local and state health agencies and the CDC "shortly after being notified of the affected associate's condition."

"Publix will continue to closely monitor this emerging public health situation," the company said in a statement, "and take all recommended precautions to reduce the spread of the coronavirus in our associates, their family members, and our customers."

Employees at two other Publix locations in Forsyth County tested positive for COVID-19, the disease caused by the novel coronavirus SARS-CoV-2, in March. 

On March 23, the company reported an employee tested positive at its store at Cruse Marketplace, 1735 Buford Highway in Cumming.

Four days later, the company sent an email to employees at its location at The Village at Flynn Crossing, 5180 McGinnis Ferry Road, that an employee had tested positive.

"Like other essential service providers, we have seen our own associates and their families personally impacted by COVID-19," Publix said in a statement to the Forsyth County News. "Unfortunately, as public health officials have indicated, we expect to see an increase in cases as the virus spreads in our communities."

Forsyth County has had 185 cases of COVID-19 documented by the Department of Public Health, according to its latest daily status report at 7 p.m. on Friday, April 17, with six deaths.

Publix said it is "keenly focused on intensive, ongoing protective measures in all our stores" using guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention along with local and state health departments.

Those measures include disinfecting high-touch surfaces; plexiglass shields at registers, customer service desks and pharmacies; signage and announcements in stores about social distancing; markings at registers to encourage 6-foot spacing between customers; and adjusted store hours for "additional disinfection measures."

Publix employees "in select job classes" who might not normally wear gloves and masks in their roles are now being allowed to.

Employees that test positive are quarantined, with paid leave, for 14 days, according to the company. In addition, employees who come in close contact with an employee who tests positive are notified and quarantined, with paid leave.

"As an essential service provider, the health and well-being of our customers, associates and communities are our top priority," Publix said. "We are proud of how our dedicated associates are taking care of our customers and each other through this unprecedented and challenging time. And, we thank our customers for continuing to trust us with providing them with the goods and services they need."