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Bank is latest to close briefly due to COVID-19 / July 06, 2020

With coronavirus infections on the rise, another local business was forced to curtail operations this week after one of its employees tested positive for COVID-19.

Following on the heels of Sheetz and the Dollar General Distribution Center in South Boston, both of which experienced recent disruptions due to the virus, Benchmark Community Bank in Riverdale closed Monday, June 29 for a deep cleaning after a branch employee contracted the disease.

The employee began experiencing symptoms and sought medical advice and treatment, according to Benchmark officials. A presumptive positive result was returned on Sunday, and the bank acted proactively to close for cleaning on Monday, June 29.

According to Jennifer Throckmorton, assistant vice president/branch manager for Benchmark’s Riverdale branch in South Boston, “the employee has not had direct contact with any customers since the bank’s lobbies closed on March 18.” Benchmark has conducted most banking business at its drive-thru window, with a small number of customers accessing the inside of the bank via appointment.

Throckmorton said the employee had not recently traveled outside the immediate area and is recovering at home without the need for hospitalization.

While customers would not have been exposed to employee, some co-workers at the branch office have been told to stay home to ward off the risk of further transmitting the disease.

“All branch staff that worked closely with the employee in the preceding week have been required to self-quarantine at home,” said Helen Person, vice president and marketing director for Benchmark Community Bank in Kenbridge.

Benchmark Community Bank policy requires any employee exposed to someone else who is positive for COVID-19 to self-quarantine for 14 days from the date of last contact. Throckmorton added that the branch employees are self-monitoring for any potential symptoms and plan to return to work on July 8. The affected employees will be compensated for time missed from work.

She also said testing for the virus will be stepped up with confirmation of the positive test result. “Any employees suspecting they may have contracted Covid-19 are submitting for testing and treatment,” said Person.

Throckmorton and bank management immediately coordinated with the Halifax County Department of Health to report the incident and close the branch for professional deep cleaning in accordance with Centers for Disease Control and Infection (CDC) guidelines. During the closure on Monday, customers were advised to visit Benchmark’s Halifax branch for any drive-up, lobby, or night deposit transactions. South Boston’s ATM remained open.

Once deep cleaning was completed on Monday afternoon, the branch resumed operations on Tuesday, June 30.

“We have followed strict sanitation procedures throughout the branch and ensured that our employees are wearing nitrile gloves and all drive-up equipment is sanitized between transactions,” added Throckmorton.

The coronavirus pandemic intensified in the United States in the middle of March. On March 18, Benchmark closed their lobbies to all traffic except by appointment for safe deposit box access, large change orders, and loan closure procedures. Consequently, customer contact with branch staff has been on an extremely limited basis.

“With the exception of a few business customers visiting the branch by appointment, all of our customer contact in the branch has been through our drive-up operations,” Throckmorton said.

Employees at other Benchmark locations have been filling in at the South Boston branch until all local staff members return. All Benchmark employees are required to self-monitor for any potential COVID-19 virus symptoms prior to reporting to work each day.

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