Do businesses need to disclose COVID-19 infections? This is what you need to know

Do businesses need to disclose COVID-19 infections? This is what you need to know

ATLANTA — A busy golf club in the heart of midtown Atlanta was forced to close down last week after nearly 70 workers tested positive for COVID-19.

A letter sent to patrons by Ansley Golf Club said 67 employees have tested positive and there are more than three dozen results still pending.

Kelly Fojas told Channel 2′s Matt Johnson that she was alarmed when she saw our report last week about the outbreak.

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“I got a text message from one of our teammates saying, ‘Have you seen this article?’” Fojas said.

Her recreational tennis team was set to play a team based at the club the next day.

“I think it was kind of eye-opening, just the recklessness,” Fojas said.

“We would have definitely played like normal and could have potentially put up to 10 people at risk,” said Moni Patel.

Fojas and Patel cited health concerns in ultimately having to forfeit the match within the Atlanta Lawn Tennis Association.

Ansley Golf Club notified its members, but it raises questions about what responsibility a business has to notify the public of an outbreak.

“They never notified us that we were playing a team that had potential exposure,” Patel said.

Howard Mavity is a management labor attorney. He told Johnson that businesses are in part protected by health privacy laws and are not required to notify the public of potential outbreaks.

“There is no single rule that says you have to do that,” Mavity said. “I’m sure some of the businesses also would be reluctant to alert customers for fear of getting bad reputation or some sort of premises liability or other concern although the legislature has limited some of that exposure.”

The state Senate Bill 359 passed recently is awaiting Gov. Brian Kemp’s signature and would give businesses more legal protections from liability lawsuits.

Employment attorney Kathy Harrington-Sullivan isn’t optimistic that businesses will overshare test results among its staff.

“My experience in general is that employers are going to do what is required of them by law, where that is clear, and anything is not required by law, some employers will do the right thing, but many employers will not,” Harrington-Sullivan said.

As for Rojas, she said the less information the public has the more chances the virus has to spread.

“I think that’s why we see the numbers we see today, right? It doesn’t just put the 10 people on the court at risk, it puts their families at risk,” Rojas said.

Channel 2 Action News has seen many businesses that have chosen to tell the public about positive test results among staff. They’ve mostly been restaurants but nothing to the scale of what happened at the golf club.

There have been a handful of metro restaurants that have taken to social media to inform the public of employee infection and the steps they’re taking to sanitize.

Johnson contacted Ansley Golf Club for further comment on this story, but so far, he has not heard back.

Atlanta golf club closed with outbreak of nearly 70 COVID-19 cases