Northampton NETA employee tests positive for COVID-19

  • In this November 2018 photo, Rosa Topping, a patient service associate, organizes the information pages for the products that will be sold on the recreational side of NETA when they open. GAZETTE FILE PHOTO

Staff Writer
Published: 4/2/2020 6:28:46 PM

NORTHAMPTON — Two New England Treatment Access employees, including one worker at the company’s Northampton marijuana dispensary on Conz Street, have tested positive for COVID-19, according to the company.

The Northampton employee who tested positive for the novel coronavirus informed NETA of the diagnosis on Wednesday, according to a statement released by the company. The other employee works at NETA’s Franklin cultivation facility and reported a positive test on Tuesday.

NETA hired a third-party cleaning service upon learning of both cases and a thorough deep-cleaning of both facilities has taken place, the statement said. This cleaning was in addition to nightly deep-cleaning as well as a daily sanitation program that occurs at NETA facilities, according to a NETA spokesman. Northampton’s facility had both its normal cleaning and this extra clean on Wednesday night, the spokesman said.

NETA Northampton is currently open from 8 a.m. to 10 p.m. seven days a week for medical marijuana patients.

The employees previously called out sick with symptoms and had not been in the facilities for a few days while they awaited COVID-19 test results, the spokesman said. And since NETA cleans and sanitizes each day, the buildings had already been cleaned more than once prior to notification of the positive tests, according to the spokesman.

“In both cases, the employees, who we are supporting in every way possible, practiced proper public health and social responsibility by self-identifying symptoms, notifying their manager after being ill for several days, pursuing COVID-19 testing, and self-quarantining,” the statement said.

The Northampton and Franklin health departments have been notified of the positive tests and will be in communication with employees, the statement said. Local health departments reach out to those who have been in close contact with those who tested positive. The company has also been in touch with colleagues of the employees who could potentially be deemed close contacts, and those employees have been asked to self-quarantine.

NETA notified the state Cannabis Control Commission (CCC) about the positive cases of COVID-19. The Boston Globe reported Wednesday that some workers at NETA’s Franklin and Brookline facilities are accusing the company of failing to adequately protect them and the patients they serve from the coronavirus.

“The commission is aware of the complaint and is looking into it,” a spokesperson said.

NETA has two medical and adult-use marijuana dispensaries, one in Northampton and one in Brookline. Gov. Charlie Baker has ordered all non-essential businesses closed until May 4 due to the COVID-19 pandemic, which includes the adult-use side of the company’s operations. NETA is still selling medical marijuana products as that has been deemed an essential service.

The company’s Franklin cultivation facility grows and processes product for both stores, according to NETA’s website.

In the statement, NETA said it is following Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, World Health Organization and state guidelines, and using personal protective equipment when advised by CDC guidelines.

“At NETA, we have had in place social distancing and sanitization protocols to minimize opportunities for close contact between employees in the workplace. We have also been reminding employees, as we have the from the beginning, about the importance of self-distancing, washing hands and for anyone who is not feeling well to stay home,” the statement read.

Since March 13, the CCC has issued numerous bulletins to its licensees that encourage measures to mitigate the spread of the coronavirus, including mobile ordering and limiting the size of lines to encourage a 6-foot social distance. The CCC also recently allowed medical marijuana treatment centers to begin curbside pickup.

Leadership at NETA declined to comment Thursday.

Michael Connors can be reached at mconnors@gazettenet.com.


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