Syfan Logistics in Gainesville did what it could to ward off the coronavirus.
The transportation firm, with 80% of employees working from home, has installed thermal cameras to detect temperatures of people passing through entrances, brought in meals so employees don’t have to go out for food, put up glass dividers between desks and used a cleaning service to keep things sanitized.
“I feel like we’ve done what the CDC says and maybe a little more,” said Steve Syfan, co-founder and executive vice president of the company at 2037 Old Candler Road.
But COVID-19 still found a way to infect 53 people associated with the company, including family, in the last six weeks.
The good news is none have tested positive in the past 16 days and “nobody has stayed in the hospital,” Syfan told The Times this week. “It’s not been fun, but neither is the flu. I don’t want to make light of (COVID-19) in any way. It can hit hard. I believe it’s real. I’ve felt it.”
Syfan is one of those testing positive, experiencing mild symptoms, such as cough and losing the ability to taste or smell, which he says, “is pretty weird.”
And overall, that’s been the case with the other 52.
“We’ve made it through it with a minimum number of symptoms,” he said. “Tired is the No. 1 symptom we’ve witnessed – low energy and no taste or smell.”
Syfan said there were concerns about his 76-year-old father, Jim Syfan, the company’s CEO, and his handling of the virus, as he had a double lung transplant 15 years ago.
“He gets tired, but he’s not on oxygen. He’s home and he’s fine,” Steve Syfan said.
He said the outbreak may have started from a card game before Father’s Day at his home and then days later, a Father Day’s gathering at his brother’s house.
It turns out one of the people at the card game was asymptomatic, “so six of the eight (people there) came down with (the disease),” Steve Syfan said.
And then, 13 of the 20 attending the Father’s Day event would later test positive for the virus.
Still, Steve Syfan sees a positive in those events happening.
“We were able to see it through and come out on the other end,” he said. “Just like with other viruses, we had it and we’re well – maybe that’s a comfort for people. If you get it, have comfort that you’re most likely to be OK.”
And that reflects what the company’s philosophy of “faith over fear,” when it comes to the coronavirus, he said..
“We've got to protect the vulnerable, the older folks, the sick, and people who are healthy shouldn’t ask for it, but don’t be scared to death of it,” Steve Syfan said. “We've seen tragedy in history, and this is one of those times,” he said. “We need to be mindful, smart and move forward — and for people to just educate and tell people of their experiences. Knowledge is power.”