A local bar is closed until Friday after its owner and another bartender tested positive for COVID-19 this week.
Terry Wood, co-owner of On The Rocks, downtown International Falls, said he thought he was suffering from exhaustion last Friday night when he went home sick around 11 p.m.
“I felt like I was going to drop,” he said, adding he had a temperature of just over 99 degrees.
Wood and his partner, Tony Cole, just opened the business – formerly The Viking – June 1, and since then, he said he's been “living and breathing the bar.”
“I went home Friday, July 3, and went right to bed,” Wood said. “Then Saturday, which was our big Taco Showdown at the bar, I couldn't get out of bed all day long. Sunday, I felt better, but I still was so tired.”
It wasn't until Monday when he received a message from his daughter about another positive COVID-19 case in Koochiching County that Wood realized he had been directly exposed to the virus.
“I had, had a conversation on June 28 with the person who tested positive,” Wood said. “So I got tested.”
Wood was notified around 4 p.m. Wednesday that he had tested positive, and immediately wanted to to be transparent with On The Rocks customers and the community.
“This is a small town... I don't want any secrets about this,” Wood said. “Rumor mills can kill a business and I wanted people to know... If I was in a bar, or any business, and someone positive had been there, I'd want to know.”
Wood said the business has been sprayed with disinfectant – both inside and the immediate perimeter outside – and employees will continue the already routine cleaning measures that have been in place since day No. 1.
“There's more alcohol being squirted on tables than there is being drank,” Wood said with a laugh.
In addition, as soon as Wood was tested Monday, On The Rocks implemented a policy that its staff must be masked while working. Wood said because Plexiglas was installed around the bar where drinks are prepared, and food is not served at On The Rocks, staff were not required to wear masks prior to Monday.
“As a small community, our numbers were below 10 for how long and I think we just got complacent, especially with the mask wearing,” Wood said. “We just have to buck up and wear them. I personally can't stand them, I get claustrophobic, but it's the right thing to do.”
As of today, Wood said he was feeling better, but still tired. He continues to follow Centers for Disease Control and Prevention guidelines and remains in quarantine.
Wood said testing positive shouldn't be something people are ashamed of, and expressed frustration toward the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act, or HIPAA, during the pandemic.
“This virus could be a life or death situation for some people,” he said. “Everyone needs to know if someone tests positive.”