KINGSPORT — Petworks Animal Services remains closed due to exposure to COVID-19 for at least six employees, Tom Parham, chairman of the shelter’s board of directors, told The Times News.
The shelter’s closure began on Saturday, Jan. 15, Parham said Monday, by which time three of 13 full-time and part-time employees had tested positive for COVID-19.
Parham left a message for The Times News on Tuesday evening to say three additional staff had since tested positive and the shelter would remain closed to the public for at least two more days.
Parham noted that the shelter is normally closed on Wednesdays anyway.
Parham said he had also tested positive for COVID-19, despite being fully vaccinated, but his symptoms had been mild so far and as of Monday afternoon he felt on the mend.
The first three employees who tested positive were also fully vaccinated, Parham said.
The purpose of the shelter’s closure, advertised on social media and on signs posted on the facility’s entry doors, is twofold, Parham said: to reduce the risk of spreading COVID-19 among employees ( which would further hamper the shelter’s ability to function); and, above all, to protect the public.
“We appreciate the public’s patience as we get through this,” Parham said Monday.
In the message he left on Tuesday, Parham again said he wanted to assure the public that the animals are still being cared for by select staff and the 50 or so volunteers who regularly help disinfect the shelter, feed animals and spending time with animals. .
And the shelter is fully stocked with a wide selection of adoptable dogs and cats, Parham said, noting that those looking for a pet can browse dogs and cats available from Petworks on the shelter’s website.