Turf Valley Lawsuit: February Outbreak – Likely Norovirus
Approximately two dozen patrons became ill after eating at the Turf Valley Hotel and Conference Center on Feb. 18 and 19 of 2016, leading the local Howard County Health Department to start an investigation and general manager Peter Mangione voluntarily shuttering the restaurant. Mangione said that the hotel had received reports of patrons suffering flu-like symptoms and voluntarily closed its banquet facility. According to Mangione, “our first concern was for our guests and our employees. We postponed upcoming events in our banquet facility. In the interest of preventing further illness, we thoroughly cleaned and sanitized the entire facility and we continue to do so. We also informed employees of the incident and asked that, as always, any employee feeling ill stay home and rest until symptom-free for 48 hours.”
As art of the investigation, Howard County health department officers interviewed a number of the employees and performed a full facility inspection as part of their investigation to trace the origin of the pathogen. According to Mangione, health officials suspected a virus and no source was identified. Mangione added that “there have been no reports of illness taking place after Sunday, Feb. 21. The onsite restaurant, Alexandra’s, remains open.”
The Turf Valley banquet facilities were closed from Feb. 22 to March 1, according to Mangione. According to health officials, stool samples were delivered to the Maryland Department of Mental Health and Hygiene for evaluation.
“Moving forward, we believe that Turf Valley has done everything they can to make their premises one that is compliant with all of the health department requirements,” de Hernandez said.
March Outbreak Follows Close Behind: Turf Valley Lawsuit Investigates
This might have been the end of the problems facing the Turf Valley Hotel and Conference Center, except that the Howard County Health Department was forced to reopen investigations into the source of food poisoning following more than a dozen reports of illness between March 2 and 6, 2016. Lisa de Hernandez, one of Howard County’s spokespersons, confirmed another closure, which was only lifted after another investigation failed to turn up the source of the outbreak.
And for the second time in a month, Mangione was on the defensive. He admitted that he was confident the problem was fully behind him, but noted “although we have been given clearance to reopen by health officials, we have selectively rescheduled several events this weekend based on individual circumstances.”
The Arc of Howard County was one organization that cancelled its 19th annual Chocolate Ball, citing the two outbreaks. Chief among the Arc’s concerns was the fact that many of the participants have a pre-existing condition that makes them more susceptible to dangerous complications form viral infections. This was confirmed by Cindy Parr, the Arc’s executive director.
Hernandez told local reporters: “The health department has advised Turf Valley on many different cleaning and remediation issues. Turf Valley has gone above and beyond to take care and heed our recommendations.”