CHICAGO (CBS) — Restaurants and other businesses shut down entirely after an employee tests positive to COVID-19, but at an Illinois state agency, they’re doing things differently.
CBS 2’s Tara Molina on Thursday night continued her investigation into an Illinois Secretary of State’s office facility that was just partially shut down.
After the worker on the Driver Services side of the building tested positive, the state only closed half of the Chicago South facility, at 9901 S. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Dr. in the Roseland community, formally known as the Charles Chew State of Illinois Motor Vehicle Facility.
We were told employees on the Driver Services side were quarantined until at least Wednesday, Aug. 12. But on Thursday, we found out that is only the case for some of them – others are working in other locations right now.
As they are concerned for their jobs, the employees who chose to speak out about how this has been handled chose not to show their faces or be identified.
The Chicago South facility was still half open Thursday.
After the on the Driver Services side tested positive for COVID-19, the Illinois Secretary of State’s office chose to keep the vehicle services side open this week.
“I’m concerned because I have a family,” another employee said.
The facility was kept open despite employees’ concerns about close contact and movement through the building.
A spokesman for Secretary of State said they traced the employees contact and decided they can keep half of the building open safely, while the driver’s services employees quarantine.
But that’s not happening.
“Some of us have been relocated to other facilities,” the employee said.
Some of the employees who are home quarantining reached out say some of their coworkers are not doing so.
“When they shut 99th Street down, some of us got phone calls to report to other facilities to work,” the employee said.
So they closed Driver Services at Chicago South, only to move some of the people who worked here to other motor vehicle facilities.
“They were told not to say anything about it; not to tell about it,” the employee said.
When Molina asked the Secretary of State’s office to address these employees’ claims, spokesman Dave Druker released the following statement:
“Anything the Secretary of State’s office does relating to the virus is run by the Illinois Department of Public Health. The last thing in the world we would do is jeopardize the health of our employees or customers. The time for the quarantine is 14 days from the last day the infected person was in the office. Employees on the Driver Services side could be assigned to work at other facilities if they were not there when the infected person was on what we and the Department of Public Health determined were the days of exposure. We use contact tracing and guidelines set by the CDC and IDPH to determine employees who had direct contact with the infected person.”
But on Tuesday night, we were told in part: ““The employee in question worked on the Driver Services side and did not work on the Vehicle services side. We traced his activity and it was limited to the Drivers side. As a result, he and the employees on the drivers side are quarantined and that department will be closed until August 12.”
For those who continue to work in the building, and those home quarantining, many of the concerns we heard are bigger than this office. They’re about the public, at Chicago South and in offices where their coworkers were transferred.
“This is not a joke and for you to pass it around, like you’re doing?” the employee said. “To me, it’s wrong. I think they need to be held accountable.”
The employees Molina talked to this week said they hope exposing the way this case was handled by the state changes their procedures forward.
But the Secretary of State’s office said it stands behind how it has handled the situation.