With employees in quarantine, Marathon County business says large gatherings hurt business

Published: Oct. 13, 2020 at 5:49 PM CDT
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MARATHON COUNTY, Wis. (WSAW) - We’ve heard from the Marathon County Health Department about large gatherings spreading COVID-19. A local business owner is expressing frustration as the spread of COVID-19 affects his business.

Hsu’s Ginseng Enterprises is short-staffed Tuesday due to COVID-19. President Will Hsu says most of the employees in quarantine are not at fault. It’s because of community spread of COVID-19 brought into his workplace.

“We have some people who decide that social events and social gatherings are more important than the livelihoods of businesses and other people in the community,” Hsu said.

He says it’s not a matter of being afraid of the virus.

“This is not a fear of COVID-19. It’s, ‘How much risk are we taking outside of work, outside of our daily lives, and what impact does that have on businesses like ours?’” he said.

He’s required face masks for employees and provided PPE and sanitation since the pandemic began. But his business can only control mask wearing and social distancing at work.

“We’re asking our employees to wash their hands frequently, to sanitize when they come in the building, and to try to stay home when they’re not at work. But we obviously can’t monitor people when they’re not at work,” he said.

Many of his employees are foreign-born. But Hsu says it’s actually people like him, who are from the area, who may walk around with a false sense of security.

“Most of the issues that I’m having right now are convincing people who live in this local community, who work in this local community, to take community-recommended precautions,” Hsu said.

Hsu says there’s a price to pay when people are quarantined. He’s paying workers to be home sick or in quarantine. But it’s not just about the money.

“It’s not just the economic part of it, it’s also the emotional cost, the mental stress that it puts on my employees if they don’t feel safe here at work,” he said.

Coronavirus has also affected the market for his product. A large portion of sales are based on tourism in Chinatowns around the U.S.

“We still have a lot of retailers who haven’t recovered in those major markets because of a lack of tourists, a lack of travelers from China and Asia and now with COVID you have fewer shoppers out buying things in brick and mortar stores,” he explained.

Hsu says the best thing we can do right now is acknowledge and take responsibility for how our actions affect small businesses like his.

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