A week ago Friday, as the ‘Catching the Big Ones’ radio show on KGVO was just wrapping up at the host site of Paradise Falls, owner Tom McLaughlin learned that one of his wait staff had tested positive for COVID 19.

McLaughlin explained what happened to host Mark Ward early this Friday morning.

“We did get a call a little after 9:00 o’clock in the morning confirming that we had an employee that tested positive,” said McLaughlin. “In talking with the health department, they wanted to know all the contacts as to who this person might have been close to and it came out to quite a few employees, and at that time we realized we had quite a mess here with all the employees that could have had close contact.”

McLaughlin said he and his daughter Stacy (Nugent) knew they had to close the restaurant immediately and get to work determining how many people were affected.

“At that time, Stacy and I just kind of stared at each other and we said ‘I think we’d better just shut the doors, take a breath and see what we’ve got’,” he said. “So, it came down to about 16 employees that we whittled it down to that might be at higher risk of contracting it.”

McLaughlin then advised all the customers in the restaurant that they had to shut down due to coronavirus.

Stacy Nugent said she immediately posted several message on Facebook to let the public know exactly what was going on at the restaurant.

“We knew that as soon as people walked out the doors there could be a firestorm of rumors, so we decided to be totally transparent,” said Nugent. “We got things out. I kept social media updated with different posts throughout the day having contact with the health department. We then spent a good portion of time on Friday and Saturday answering questions about possible exposure. By the end of the day on Friday we were able to disclose small windows of time that the health department thought might have been the highest risk of exposure.”

McLaughlin and Nugent confirmed that after a week of deep cleaning and retraining staff, the Casino will reopen on Monday morning, July 6 and the restaurant will reopen at 7:00 a.m. on Tuesday, July 7.

The Missoula City County Health Department praised McLaughlin and his staff at Paradise Falls for their transparency and cooperation after the positive case was reported.

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