Soupergirl owner explains struggle of keeping employees safe during pandemic

A Soupergirl employee prepares food while wearing a mask and a personal protective gear.

A Soupergirl employee takes a COVID-19 test with the help of a doctor.

A Soupergirl employee gets his temperature checked before entering the restaurant.

A Soupergirl employee sprays disinfectant inside the car before starting with deliveries.

A Soupergirl employee prepares food while wearing a mask and a personal protective gear.


It’s a new added cost for many business owners during the pandemic to take extra steps to keep employees from catching COVID-19 at work. But for many small businesses, keeping their teams safe has been a struggle.

For many, there is confusion about what are the best practices since the guidance for employers continues to change.

Sara Polon, owner of Soupergirl, a soup delivery company based in D.C., said in talking with fellow business owners, plans of action differ from business to business.

“No one really knows what to do, we kind of feel like we are in the Wild Wild West,” Polon said.

Polon has done a lot of research, and since reopening in June, she has taken several steps from providing personal protective gear to setting up insurance for her team. However, she said testing would be vital to keeping everyone safe.

The Soupergirl owner hired a doctor to come into her operation weekly, and administer COVID-19 tests to 25 of her 30 employees who cannot work from home.

The cost per testing session, she said, is around $800.

The doctor would send the samples collected out to labs for results, but Polon said the duration between giving the test and getting the results has continued to grow.

“The results started taking longer and longer and longer, and they got to the point where they were coming in 15 days after we were testing, which rendered them absolutely useless,” Polon said.

Polon said she believes testing should be offered by governments on either the federal or local level, especially for essential businesses and small businesses to help employers keep employees healthy and keep their doors open.

“A federal testing program or a local testing program that is fully paid for, that makes it easy for small business owners and workers to get tested, stay safe and really function in the safest manner possible for everybody,” Polon said.

The additional safety steps, though costly, are critical to easing anxiety and improving morale during these uncertain times, Polon said.

“I think there’s a profound sense of loyalty and gratitude from everybody, from my prep team to myself,” she said.

More Coronavirus news

Looking for more information? D.C., Maryland and Virginia are each releasing more data every day. Visit their official sites here: Virginia | Maryland | D.C.


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