Coronavirus

Belton Golden Chick customers who ordered food since Friday may have been exposed to COVID-19, the Bell County Public Health District announced.

Two employees at the fried chicken establishment, 610 E. Sixth Ave., tested positive for COVID-19, according to the health district.

“A public notice is necessary because of the difficulty associated with the contact tracing of one of the employees,” Bell County Public Health Director Amanda Robison-Chadwell said.

If you visited Golden Chick recently, contact the health district at 254-773-4457 and ask for epidemiology, or email covid@bellcountyhealth.org.

The first employee was asymptomatic and tested positive Saturday. The public’s exposure to that worker was limited, according to a news release. The second employee was symptomatic and tested positive Tuesday.

The restaurant currently is closed for sanitation. An employee told the Telegram Tuesday the fried chicken joint closed Saturday evening.

One Golden Chick customer said he took all precautions necessary after ordering chicken Friday.

“We used hand sanitizer after getting our order and washed our hands before removing the food to plates,” resident Joe Walker told the Telegram on Facebook, adding he hated hearing about the infections. “I did notice that none of them were wearing masks or gloves. Due to their reckless, disrespectful behavior, I will never eat there again.”

In a statement, Golden Chick said “the safety of our Golden Chick employees and guests always has been and remains our number one priority.”

“We have been working diligently with the local health department as soon as we became aware of our positive employee COVID-19 case on May 16,” the company’s statement said. “Our Belton location immediately closed for a deep clean and our employees were advised to stay home and self-quarantine if they had any symptoms. We look forward to serving the community of Belton again soon when it is safe for our employees and guests.”

The confirmation of the fast food infections came as health officials said five more Bell County residents had contracted COVID-19. The county has at least 248 cases, according to the health district.

The Texas Department of State Health Services reported Bell County’s Tuesday total was 260 — a 12-person increase since Monday. That figure includes coronavirus-positive Fort Hood soldiers who live on base.

At least two other fast food restaurants in Belton had confirmed coronavirus cases.

Most recently, an employee of Pizza Hut, 400 Neil St., tested positive and may have exposed customers to the contagious virus. No positive cases have resulted from that, Robison-Chadwell previously said. Around 50 people contacted the health district about possibly being exposed to the coronavirus.

Whataburger, 307 N. Interstate 35 in Belton, had an employee test positive in mid-April. The health district said earlier this month no customers were exposed to COVID-19 in that instance.

Businesses are not required to publicly disclose infections among their staff.

“Individual restaurants may share when an employee tests positive for COVID-19, if they wish,” Robison-Chadwell told the Telegram earlier this month. “At the Health District, we remain committed to respecting the private medical rights of individuals and will limit naming a private business unless there is a clear public benefit.”

The health district reported Tuesday an additional 1,861 coronavirus tests have been performed in Bell County. That brings the county’s testing total to 15,181.

The health district did not report any new recoveries Tuesday. So far, 150 residents have recovered from COVID-19.