The Henrico County Health District reported Thursday that it’s investigating a COVID-19 outbreak associated with an Oct. 9 live music event at JJ’s Grille, a restaurant on Staples Mill Road in Glen Allen.
People who attended the show should “immediately stay home and away from others for 14 days (until October 24),” the health district said.
“While there have been no reported cases of exposure associated with live music or group events held on dates before October 9, HCHD is still evaluating the potential for further exposures and would recommend that individuals who have visited the establishment after October 9 monitor for symptoms and consider being tested for COVID-19 infection,” the county health district said in a statement with the Virginia Department of Health. The Henrico district is part of the VDH.
The release added that JJ’s Grille and the local health district are working together to limit potential spread into the community. JJ’s Grille, which is at 10298 Staples Mill Road in The Shoppes at CrossRidge, did not respond to requests for comment.
In an interview Thursday, Dr. Danny Avula — the director of Richmond’s and Henrico’s health districts — confirmed that the restaurant has voluntarily chosen to close temporarily.
The health district was first notified late Monday that the event could contribute to the virus’s spread due to multiple people testing positive, Avula said. He added that specific outbreaks are usually not made public, but lack of cooperation with contact tracing efforts and delays in testing hindered the health district’s ability to identify all the people who could have been affected.
The site of the outbreak also was a factor, Avula said, noting that not all patrons’ first and last names were available.
“In an office setting, you know everybody who works in the office and spent 15 minutes within 6 feet of an affected individual, but at these types of settings, it’s harder to do that,” Avula said.
The statement said there was “a cluster of COVID-19 infections” tied to the event, but Avula could not provide the exact number of positive infections, saying he needs the state health commissioner’s or restaurant’s permission to do so. Some test results are pending, and officials have contacted approximately 75 attendees and staff.
According to the VDH, at least two confirmed cases are required to classify an outbreak. Henrico has had a total of 62 outbreaks since the start of the pandemic, with 21 of those being in congregate settings such as restaurants, schools and workplaces.
As of Thursday, more than 1,500 of Henrico’s 6,096 COVID-19 cases were related to an outbreak, according to information provided by the VDH. Almost 40% of cases are among people in the 20-39 age group.
Since the VDH was charged with enforcing gubernatorial executive orders in May, 10 restaurants in the area — seven in Richmond, two in Henrico and one in Hanover County — have had their health permits suspended due to violating pandemic regulations, according to the VDH. All have been reinstated.
The VDH estimates that statewide, 30 restaurants have had permits suspended.
On JJ’s Grille’s Facebook page, upcoming events have been canceled but four events were scheduled between Oct. 9 and Oct. 17. The last event was added on Oct. 12 for an event this past Saturday.
The Oct. 9 event featured the rock band Audiovault. On Facebook, 56 people said they were “interested” and 13 people marked “went.” The show was billed as a tribute to rock star Eddie Van Halen, who died Oct. 6.
“Just a friendly reminder to wear a mask when you are not sitting at your table which includes dancing while rocking out with us,” the band wrote in a Facebook post about the show.
COVID-19 symptoms include but aren’t limited to fever, shortness of breath, sore throat, muscle pain, and new loss of taste and smell. A listing of community testing events can be found at www.vdh.virginia.gov/richmond-city.
Self-quarantining includes avoiding visits from guests, no sharing of towels and plates, staying at least 6 feet away from others and the continued wearing of masks.