JAY — Two Ward Lumber employees have tested positive for COVID-19 and two others are under precautionary quarantine, owner Jay Ward says.

Ward said that the affected individuals are not frontline customer service individuals, and that they work in a side office at the Jay location that focuses primarily on professional customers.

“While we all serve customers as needed, these two individuals (who tested positive) are not generally front-facing, service counter individuals,” Ward said.

The first employee to test positive displayed COVID-19 symptoms after leaving work last Friday, June 26, according to Ward, leading to contact tracing by the Essex County Health Department to determine the other employees that were at risk.

The first confirmed positive case came this Thursday night, with the second confirmation coming midday Friday, Ward said.


The store was disinfected by a professional cleaning company this past Sunday night, Ward said.

Since then, Ward has reviewed his store’s COVID-19 precautions with the county health department, which was “pleased and supportive of everything we’ve done and are continuing to do to prevent the spread of the virus,” Ward said.

Those precautions include:

• All employees wearing face coverings and social distancing

• Sneeze screens at service counters

• Having employees stay home if any question of not feeling well

• All employees are subject to temperature check and health questions upon arrival to work, which are logged

• Cleaning high contact points like door handles and service counters with all cleanings logged

• Allowing customers to skip the signature pad for credit card transactions

• Six-foot lines on the floor in many areas to promote social distancing

• One occupant at a time in the store’s lunchroom, which is cleaned and sanitized before and after use

But even with those precautions, and more, the nature of people coming and going in the store meant that it was still not enough to prevent a positive case, a reality that Ward has been planning for.

“As conscious as we have been, I have also been planning for the real possibility of a positive case,” Ward said.

“We’re in the middle of a pandemic, and while the North Country has been low on incidents, retail businesses, mine and others, are in a risky place.”

That planning included having a cleaning company lined up, which responded quickly when Ward contacted them. 

The store is continuing to serve customers in-store with extensive precautions, Ward said, while also still offering curbside pickup via online ordering.

Ward Lumber’s complete COVID-19 safety plan is available upon request, Ward said, adding that he would be happy to share it with anyone who is interested.

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Twitter: @BenWatsonPR 

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