— Aaron Grill (@agrill) February 1, 2014
Above: Mohonk's norovirus outbreak hits Twitter.
The Mohonk Mountain House closed its doors for a week on Friday, Feb. 7, after many guests and staff came down with a highly contagious norovirus that caused vomiting and diarrhea.
The virus also caused another outbreak on social media: Attendees of a conference held at Mohonk began tweeting with the hashtag #MoChunk.
In an email sent to staff and published in the Times Herald-Record, Mohonk president Bert Smiley announced that the resort would be closing until Friday, Feb. 14 and hiring a cleanup crew to sanitize the entire 600-bed resort:
Dear Mohonk Employees,
Over the course of the last few days, it has become increasingly clear to us that the virus that has caused illness among staff and guests is very persistent.
Working with the Ulster County and New York State Departments of Health, we have already implemented many recommended measures to address this issue and have determined that further action needs to be taken.
After careful consideration of our options, we have decided that the best course of action is to close for a week and hire a contractor that specializes in this type of work to sanitize the property.
This process will include sanitization of all guest and staff areas, including the entire Mountain House, Oak Cottage, dormitories, Pavilion, Conference House, and Council House.
Starting with check-out on Friday, February 7, at 1:00 p.m., we will not be accepting new guests until check-in on Friday, February 14.
In order to conduct this sanitization process and to reduce the possibility of re-contamination, we will need to limit the number of people on site. Regular staffing schedules will be in place until Friday and your supervisor will let you know if your schedule will be affected during the coming week, once that has been decided.
We know you will have questions and while we don't have all the answers tonight, we wanted to inform you immediately about our plan. We are still working on the details of the plan and will provide more information on Thursday.
The decision to close for a week was not made lightly. It was based on the need to conduct an intense and thorough cleaning operation. We are very sorry to have to take this extreme measure, but the well-being of our staff and guests is paramount.
We recognize that this will present many challenges, and that the support of you, our Mohonk family, will be essential to our success.
The company hired to sanitize the resort will bring a 200-person cleanup crew, Smiley told the Times Herald-Record.
Norovirus is highly contagious, and can be spread person-to-person or through food that an infected person has touched. According to a 2003 study in the science journal Nature, norovirus is responsible for most epidemics of non-bacterial gastroenteritis.
Below: The Mohonk Mountain House. Photo from Mohonk's Facebook page.