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The West Volusia Beacon has made the decision to close its Downtown DeLand newspaper office until Thursday, July 23, after one staff member tested positive for COVID-19 and two others reported having fevers this week.

The newspaper will maintain its regular publishing schedule, and all services will continue to be offered. The Beacon’s main telephone line, 386-734-4622, will be attended during business hours as usual.

Employees who have been working in the office will be quarantined. Much of The Beacon 24-member staff has been working from home since the pandemic began, and those working in the office have been practicing social distancing.

“We are grateful that all three employees are doing well at home, and that all of them report their symptoms have subsided,” Publisher Barb Shepherd said.

Shepherd expressed gratitude for guidance from Family Health Source CEO Laurie Asbury on how best to protect The Beacon team and the community.

“All businesses in West Volusia are struggling to navigate this pandemic. We wanted to do the right thing to help the community, and Laurie’s assistance was invaluable,” Shepherd said.

Family Health Source provides a variety of health care services in West Volusia, and has taken the lead in community COVID-19 testing.

None of the three affected employees is on the marketing team, so none has been making sales calls on local businesses.

With assistance from Bill Budzinski of The Elusive Grape in Downtown DeLand, The Beacon’s office at 110 W. New York Ave. has been thoroughly sanitized after each incident of fever was reported.

The COVID-19 positive employee has not been in the office since June 29; the other two employees are awaiting results of their tests for the virus.

“It’s difficult for businesses — for everybody, actually — to make good and fair decisions when the backlog in testing means we can’t get results in less than a week, and sometimes longer,” Shepherd said.

As an essential business, The Beacon has remained opened throughout the pandemic. This is the first instance of a staff member becoming ill.

Any Beacon customer with concerns about the newspaper’s situation should call The Beacon at 386-734-4622, or send email to info@beacononlinenews.com.


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