Health officials say potentially hundreds may have been exposed to COVID-19 at Fifth Avenue in Royal Oak

Posted at 5:13 PM, Jun 30, 2020
and last updated 2020-06-30 20:06:29-04

ROYAL OAK, Mich. (WXYZ) — Health officials in Oakland County Monday evening made a public notice for anyone at Fifth Avenue on Friday, June 19th to monitor themselves for symptoms, after three positive COVID-19 tests in the county.

The exposure date is just days after a potentially similar situation in East Lansing at the popular bar & restaurant Harper’s. Officials in Ingham County urge anyone who visited the establishment between June 12-20 to self-quarantine for 14 days as contact tracers for the county have now linked 113 cases to the outbreak.

“We started with just two cases as well when we first learned. On the 18th we knew about 2 cases. That escalated rapidly,” said Linda Vail, Ingham County Health Officer.

Vail says one of the biggest hurdles for health investigators was potentially exposed people unable to identify those they were around.

That issue may be at play with Fifth Avenue.

Oakland County Medical Director Dr. Russell Faust says hundreds may have been exposed June 19 in Royal Oak, making tracing difficult.

Oakland County health officials are urging anyone with symptoms to get tested, while stopping short of calling for self-quarantine for those at the venue, citing public studies that link strength of symptoms to strength of spread.

With the Oakland County bar exposure a week behind Ingham County’s, Officer Vail offered advice for Fifth Avenue.

“The restaurant itself. Close. Deep Clean, re-educate staff. Enforce masks wearing of staff. I see a lot of very lax enforcement of mask-wearing,” Vail said.

Fifth Avenue Co-Owner Tony Yezbick says his establishment, for now, is staying open, and his staff has been vigilant trying to keep people safe. He told 7 Action News he learned of the investigation by hearing about it in the news.

“Ironically, the Health Dept. was here last night at around 7:30 and gave us a warning letter. Apparently they had received some complaints about social distancing and crowds here, but they did not mention the three cases, which makes me think that their confidence level about these 3 individuals attracting COVID wasn’t necessarily at Fifth Avenue,” Yezbick said.

Faust says the Health Department is “pretty comfortable” that Fifth Avenue was the site of the exposure.

“There are only this single venue that the three people have in common. As far as I know, they are not related, they did not arrive in the same vehicle and that sort of thing. They were there on that evening.”

Faust said it would be wonderful if the bar was not because it would likely mean finding fewer positive cases.

“But, I’m afraid that it is and that there were potentially a couple hundred other people exposed,” said Faust.

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