Concerns rise about health and safety of essential workers

New confirmed cases of Coronavirus COVID-19 are popping up across Houston also impacting essential business workers.

In addition to first responders, transportation workers, and medical staff members, there are also reports of workers testing positive from city pharmacies, grocery stores, and restaurants.

On Monday, we interviewed Houston’s Sonya Cotton.

Back on March 29, her 22-year-old son tested positive for COVID-19.

THE LATEST: Coronavirus COVID-19 cases, deaths, recoveries in greater Houston area

According to Cotton, her son works at a drive-thru restaurant in West Houston. “He contracted it possibly at work,” said Cotton. “It’s almost inevitable that someone is going to contract something somewhere. Even if he didn’t deal with customers hands-on, he came in contact with workers that may have come in contact with customers. He could have directly or indirectly infected someone.”

Cotton says her son showed moderate symptoms and was tested for the flu and strep throat. With negative test results for the flu, some doctors still refused testing for COVID-19.

It took days, and additional medical bills, but Cotton eventually managed to find a hospital willing to test him for the coronavirus.

“It was like a brick wall,” said Cotton. “We weren’t able to get a test anywhere. I had to get another hospital charge and take him to the Medical Center where he was tested and positive."

With moderate symptoms, Cotton believes her son could have pushed through and returned to work while they spent days looking for a test.

However, Cotton has a medical background and decided to have her son stay home.

“If I hadn’t demanded that he’s staying home, he would have been out there and other people could possibly be infected,” said Cotton.

Over the weekend the President Trump’s Coronavirus Task Force advised people against visiting public places like grocery stores.

“The next two weeks are extraordinarily important,” said Dr. Deborah Birx. “This is the moment to not to be going to the grocery store, to not be going to the pharmacy. Doing everything you can to keep your family and friends safe.”

So far more than 1,100 people in Houston have tested positive for COVID-19.

In a press conference Monday, Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner reminded people to social distance.

Social distancing: What to do and what not to do to slow the spread of COVID-19

“I’m sure from every sector there are people that have tested positively,” said Turner. “Regardless of what business or organization you may be in. If you have to venture to a grocery store, or to the pharmacy, make sure you are standing 6 feet from the next person.”

Cotton says her son hasn’t had a fever in a few days and is recovering. So far, no one else in their house has tested positive for COVID-19.

Experts are advising people to have only one member of a family shop for groceries if they need food.

“There are infected people out there, and they’re not taking extra precautions,” said Cotton. “They’re not. I think people just really need to stay home.”

A spokesperson from Chick-fil-a responded after a worker tested positive for COVID-19 saying, “We can confirm that Chick-fil-A Parkway Village temporarily closed due to COVID-19 and has reopened,” said a spokesperson from Chick-fil-A Inc. “We take seriously the health of Restaurant Team Members and Guests and took precautionary measures, including temporarily closing the restaurant to disinfect and deep clean. We continue to follow CDC and local health department guidelines.”

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