Former employee for local student housing company says employees were working while infected with COVID-19

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Posted at 2:56 PM, Sep 03, 2021

NORFOLK, Va. - Robert Ward is sick with COVID-19 inside Sentara Hospital in Virginia Beach.

"A few weeks ago, people started testing positive in the maintenance department where I work," said Ward. "I've got shortness of breath, and I couldn't even walk," he said.

Ward, who is fully vaccinated, tells us he contracted COVID-19 from his job at ODUrent, a contracted company not affiliated with Old Dominion University that provides off-campus housing to college students.

"I went to the maintenance supervisors, and I said, 'I got a baby due sometime next week, and I don't feel good,'" Ward said. "I told them, 'We aren't handling the outbreak well, and we got people going in and out of this office that are positive.'"

Ward says four of his coworkers and his supervisor tested positive for COVID-19. He told News 3 two of them even came to work.

We verified that Friday by speaking to the owner of ODUrent, who did confirm that was the case. Additionally, he told us he himself even has COVID-19 and said two employees went to work after testing positive but were sent home.

"It's not just alarming for my health - the way this thing is spreading, this Delta variant, for them to allow us to still work," said Ward.

Ward showed us a doctor's note he gave to his employer after he tested positive Monday. He says he didn't show up for work and said he was let go.

The company confirmed Ward was fired and said it was because he didn't communicate why he was leaving work.

Ward now is concerned he may have infected dozens of students.

"It was recently freshman move-in, and there were tons of move-ins. I can't even count how many apartments I was in this last week," said Ward.

The owner of ODUrent told News 3 Friday that "no employees that have tested positive have been inside a tenant's home."

However, it's unclear if Ward already had the virus when entering the apartments.

"People are dying from this thing. It's not a joke - they took it as a joke the entire time," said Ward.

ODUrent released this full statement to News 3 Friday in response to Ward's claims:

Our company policy has remained consistent throughout this pandemic. Any employees who tested positive or showed symptoms of COVID-19 were immediately sent home, in accordance with Virginia's permanent standard. Employees are not allowed to return to work until they are symptom free for 24-hours and have isolated for 10 days. Any employees that may have had close contact with a positive employee are also required to be sent home and to receive a PCR test. We have recently taken our COVID-19 policy a step further and are requiring all our employees to be fully vaccinated. No employees that have tested positive have been inside a tenant's home.

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