The Guilford County Animal Shelter has suspended adoptions until further notice to protect the staff and public after at least one employee at the shelter tested positive for COVID-19.

On Tuesday, May 12, Guilford County announced in a press release that one or more employees working at the shelter tested positive for the virus. (The wording of the statement doesn’t reveal the number of cases discovered among shelter staff.)

The person or persons who tested positive is or are self-quarantining under guidelines from the Guilford County Department of Public Health.

In a May 12 press release, Guilford County Animal Services Director Jorge Ortega stated that shelter staff has been taking precautions against the spread of the virus and will continue to do so. He also said the shelter is ready for this challenge.

“We have been preparing for this potential situation since the pandemic started,” Ortega stated. “GCAS [Guilford County Animal Shelter] has been and will continue to be an essential public service. We will continue to help the animals in our community while ensuring those pursuits are not posing undue risks.”

One strategy the shelter has been using is rotating shifts to limit an outbreak.

Ortega said that, by implementing rotating shifts early on, the shelter ensured that some staff teams weren’t exposed and were therefore able to continue to provide care to the animals.

Other efforts that have helped prevent coronavirus spread include animal adoptions by appointment, a “curb-side approach” for animal pickup, more transfers to the shelter’s rescue partner organizations and a temporary suspension of the shelter’s volunteer program.

Those moves have limited the number of people in the buildings at any one time.

Still, the virus has shown up at the shelter just as it has at many, many other places.

   The shelter’s positive test or tests for COVID-19 happened sometime between Monday, May 4 and Friday, May 8.

According to shelter officials, the Animal Shelter is working with the Guilford County Department of Public Health to determine when the worker or workers who tested positive can go back to work. In the meantime, the shelter has begun testing all Animal Services staff.

The shelter is also engaging in a “deep cleaning” of the buildings. Also, the public must check in with security, and visitors are “strongly encouraged” to wear facemasks. There will also be limits on the number of people allowed inside the shelter buildings at any one time.