14 employees worked sick leading to norovirus outbreak; Harvard Faculty Club restaurant to remain closed during commencement

Manhattan (Kansas) is all abustle this morning as parents stream in from around the state and elsewhere to watch their children graduate after four years of college. It’s Commencement Day.

Over at Harrr–vard University, not only do they have to deal with one of the most embarrassing collapses in hockey history as the Boston Bruins were eliminated by the Philadelphia Flyers last night, the restaurant at the venerable Harvard Faculty Club, shuttered for weeks because of a norovirus outbreak that sickened more than 300 people, will remain closed through commencement, the height of the university’s social calendar.

On Friday, the Cambridge Health Department said an investigation found that before the club closed for the first time, 14 employees were working while they were sick and an undetermined number of employees were working less than 72 hours after they had become free of norovirus symptoms.

Louise Rice , director of public nursing for Cambridge, told the Boston Globe that state law requires that restaurant employees who become sick can not return to work until their symptoms have been gone for 72 hours.

I guess Harrr—vard has its own rules. And it must be hard to find good help for Harrr—vard, which may explain why they are advertizing for a Environmental Health Safety Officer to provide routine HACCP-based and food-code compliance inspections at university dining facilities (thank-you, barfblog reader).

Rice further said the city’s investigation found that approximately 308 people became sick at the club, and 33 of them were employees—which is about 40 percent of the club’s staff, adding,

“Having so many sick employees probably drove the contamination of the space.”

One of those sickened was 80-year-old Robert Cogan, a professor at the New England Conservatory in Boston.

After an ill-fated Easter brunch put him in the hospital for almost a month, he finally returned home last week. The gastrointestinal ailment led to a string of complications that put Cogan in intensive care for four days and extended stays at Massachusetts General Hospital and Spaulding Rehabilitation Hospital.

Cogan said he’s “very disappointed” that before he ate his Easter brunch on April 4 no one at the club informed him that the restaurant had just reopened after a norovirus outbreak.

“If we’d known that, we certainly wouldn’t have gone,” said Cogan, who said he used to frequent the club for brunch.