Rick Bollum, owner of Chopper's Bar and Grill on Mill Avenue in Brainerd said today he decided to shut down his kitchen Monday afternoon because three of his four cooks came down with the flu.
It's a situation that may happen frequently throughout the Brainerd lakes area this holiday season because influenza cases are starting to be reported here.
"I decided since three of the four major cooks were ill, that I didn't want people in the back preparing food," said Bollum. "I didn't want to expose the public more. I would hope to think we're not the only one to get hit."
"I'm the only one who's not so sick," said cook Scott Justin, who came in to work this morning to open the kitchen at Chopper's.
Justin said the bar remained open but the kitchen was closed Monday afternoon. He said a few waitresses are sick too with the same symptoms of body aches, headaches and sore throats. Bollum said he wasn't planning on closing the kitchen again today but was going to make that decision later in the day.
There have been cases of influenza reported in the Brainerd lakes area, but not yet to the elevated levels of other communities, such as St. Cloud or Fargo, a St. Joseph's Medical Center spokesperson said today.
The Crow Wing County Health Department reported that area clinics have reported cases of influenza as well. The health department has a limited supply of the flu vaccine left, but it is only available for high-risk patients.
"We've seen some cases, but not a significant amount yet. But that could change any day," said Dale Benson, director of human resources and community relations at St. Joseph's Medical Center in Brainerd. "There are a lot of flu-like symptoms that are out there but it's not necessarily the flu. We've seen a lot of respiratory-type things, but it could all change tomorrow."
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