steve barz

Dragonfly Tavern

After their restaurant was named in two notices this week from the Monroe County public health department alerting customers to potential COVID-19 exposures, the owners of the Dragonfly Tavern called Friday for more communication with health officials.

The owners, Aaron Gibalski and Brant Riggs, said in an emailed statement that they “have diligently followed all recommended guidelines for reopening during Phase Two” of New York state’s phased reopening process.

Brett Dahlberg / WXXI News

When the Monroe County public health department issued a public notice earlier this week that people were potentially exposed to the novel coronavirus at a tavern in Rochester, the department said the announcement was not intended as a punishment.

Despite New York state’s reopening rules that require face coverings for customers and employees and distance between diners, the county health department said contact tracing revealed that “face coverings were not widely worn and there was little social distancing” at the tavern.

John Owens Jr. has been doing contact tracing for 20 years. Usually, his work focuses on sexually transmitted infections -- each year, there are thousands of cases of gonorrhea and chlamydia, hundreds of syphilis cases and dozens of HIV diagnoses in Monroe County.

In the last few months, however, his focus -- and his job description -- have changed. Owens, 46, is now the county’s COVID-19 contact tracing lead.