Photo via RK Centers

An employee at each Stop & Shop location in Newport has tested positive for COVID-19, What’s Up Newp has confirmed.

Following up on a news tip regarding positive cases at local Stop & Shop’s, What’s Up Newp was able to confirm the cases through a company spokesperson on Saturday.

“Stop & Shop can confirm that one associate at our store located at 199 Connell Highway in Newport, RI, and one associate at our Bellevue Avenue store have tested positive for coronavirus or COVID-19”, Jennifer Brogan, Director of External Communications & Community Relations for Stop & Shop told What’s Up Newp on Saturday. “We have conducted an extensive deep cleaning of each store in strict accordance with CDC guidelines. Both associates last worked during the month of April, and they will not return to work until cleared as no longer contagious for COVID-19. We are following state and CDC guidance in this regard”. 

Brogan did not disclose what position each employee held at each store.

In regards to those who test positive for COVID-19, Rhode Island Department of Health has shared in their messaging that “people who live with that person and who have been in direct close contact with that person should self-quarantine for 14 days after the last day that that person was in isolation. Direct close contact means being within approximately 6 feet of a person for a prolonged period”.

“Out of an abundance of caution, any associates who have been in close contact with the affected associates have been asked to self-quarantine, and we are continuing to insist that any other associates who feel sick at any time stay home. All are continuing to be paid”, Brogan continues.

As of Friday, 10,998 Rhode Islanders have tested positive for COVID-19. While an additional 76,826 Rhode Islander have tested negative, there have been 418 COVID-19 associated deaths. As of May 4th, there have 40 positive cases of COVID-19 in Newport.

Update: On a press conference all with reporters this afternoon, What’s Up Newp asked Dr. Nicole Alexander-Scott, Director of Rhode Island Department of Health about what contact tracing looks like after an employee tests positive at a supermarket and what about testing for other employees at the business.

“For each entity it may vary slightly but the big picture in terms of the contact tracing component is identifying contacts that have been closer than six feet distance for ten minutes or longer. So that’s what described as prolonged direct contact. That tends to not happens as much with customers thru a store but we do walk thru with that employees to help get that understanding and reach out to those who are considered contact”, Alexander-Scott said..

the Dr. continued, “From the testing standpoint, with the testing strategy that the Governor has shared and i have relayed we are continuing to take a targeted approach, particularly with our outbreak response, similar to what has been described with congregate settings where we have a couple of cases and we can bring a team in to do more extensive testing and better to understand the landscape. We want to do that with work settings as well and its similar as I described that we did at the Department of Health (after 6 people tested positive). So those are the high level approaches and then there will be nuances based on the individualized information that we obtain”.

Brogan concludes with, “Grocery stores are an essential community service, and nothing is more important to us than the health of our associates and customers. We are continuing extensive measures to help ensure all our stores and facilities are safe for everyone. This includes:

  • Providing gloves, masks and hand sanitizer, and guidance on enhanced hand washing and hygiene protocols.
  • Requiring associates wear masks or appropriate face coverings.
  • Employing robust cleaning and sanitizing procedures at each store, including disinfecting high touchpoint areas throughout the day and closing all stores at 8 p.m. for additional cleaning and restocking.
  • Offering disinfecting wipes near the store entrance so customers can wipe down carriages, hand baskets, and ScanIt! devices before use.
  • Installing clear plastic guards at registers for added protection.  
  • Implementing customer capacity limits and one-way aisles in every store.
  • Using signs, in-store announcements and other measures to encourage social distancing within our stores”.

Stop & Shop operates more than 400 supermarkets in New England, New York and New Jersey.

The Rhode Island Department of Health continues to share these key messages for the public;

  • Anyone who is sick should stay home and self-isolate (unless going out for testing or healthcare).
  • The people who live with that person and who have been in direct close contact with that person should self-quarantine for 14 days after the last day that that person was in isolation. Direct close contact means being within approximately 6 feet of a person for a prolonged period.
  • Help is available for people living in quarantine or isolation due to COVID-19. Visit [] for connections to groceries, home supplies, restaurants, and mutual aid groups. People can also call 2-1-1. 
  • When people are in public, they should wear a cloth face covering. A cloth face covering is a material that covers the nose and mouth. It could be sewn by hand or improvised from household items such as scarves, T-shirts, or bandanas.
  • Groups of more than five people should not be gathering. Always avoid close personal contact with other people in public.
  • Healthcare workers should not be going to work if they are sick (even with mild symptoms).
  • People who think they have COVID-19 should call their healthcare provider. Do not go directly to a healthcare facility without first calling a healthcare provider (unless you are experiencing a medical emergency).
  • People with general, non-medical questions about COVID-19 can visit, write to, or call 401-222-8022. This is the COVID-19 Hotline that RIDOH has available to the public.
  • Everyone can help stop the spread of viruses in Rhode Island.
  • Wash your hands often throughout the day. Use warm water and soap. If soap and water are not available, use hand sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol.
  • Cough or sneeze into your elbow.
  • Stay home and do not leave your house if you are sick, unless it is for emergency medical care.
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose, or mouth. Germs spread this way.