43 Marin Sanitary Service workers test positive for COVID-19; management says outbreak contained

At Marin Sanitary Service in San Rafael, 43 workers have tested positive for the coronavirus this month. That's about 15% of its work force.

"Frankly, it was somewhat of a shock," said Patty Garbarino, president of the company which handles recycling and waste processing for most of Marin County.

She said the first employees was diagnosed June 6, then when more and more began testing positive, all workers were tested.

"We had two employees of the 43 get pretty sick. We had 4 to 6 employees exhibit symptoms and got tested. The others were pretty much a shock. They were asymptomatic," said Garbarino.

Marin public health officers came to the facility last week and stated the general public is not at risk from any other infected employees.

Marin County Health and Human Services issued a statement Monday saying:

"Consistent with other worksite outbreaks, Marin County public health found heightened risk of transmission during break and lunch hours when some workers are not maintain(ing) Social distance and/or are not wearing face coverings. Marin Sanitary is increasing infection prevention, like adding additional handwashing stations."

"We had a lessening of restrictions as of the end of May. Memorial Day weekend. People were tired of all the restrictions. Two weeks later we had an outbreak," said Garbarino.

Health officials agree that as restrictions ease it becomes more likely that COVID-19 will spread.

"Spikes are in some cases going to be inevitable, even when we try to do everything as proposed. Nothing is fool-proof. Then what we have to do is contain it, identify it and limit the bad outcomes as much as possible," says Dr. Vanila Singh, a former chief medical officer for the U.S. Deptartment of Health and Human Services.

Marin County health workers plan to speak with workers Tuesday.