The owners of Hays Greenhouse, 1327 Toulon Ave., have been showered with well wishes, prayers and thanks from their friends and customers on Facebook after they notified the public Friday night that Ellis County’s single confirmed case of COVID-19 is an employee.


In the statement posted on Facebook, owner brothers Brandon and Tyler Pfannenstiel said they wanted to address all the rumors.


“Our employees have followed all recommended procedures to keep a safe work environment,” the statement read. “However, one of our employees was notified they were positive for COVID-19.”


By Saturday afternoon, the post had gotten 312 likes, hearts and sad emojis, as well as shared 380 times, and 129 comments from well wishers.


“Professional integrity! Another example of how great it is to live in Hays,” said poster Henry Armknecht.


Among those who were offering prayers were Debbie Smith, Tammi Lynn Legleiter, Joyce Dinges, Lori Lang, Mary Riggs, Vivian Kreutzer, and many others.


“This is why we live and love Hays!” wrote Amy M. Wasinger. “I have tried to read every comment and not one is negative. Every comment shows caring and concern for the employee and the business. This is how people should treat each other!”


The Ellis County Health Department Thursday evening released a brief notice that the Kansas Department of Health and Environment had confirmed the county’s first COVID-19 case.


It was confusing, however, that Ellis County didn’t appear Friday when KDHE mid-day released its map showing the counties with cases. Saturday’s KDHE map did show Ellis County on the map.


In that report, KDHE said 26 people have been tested so far in Ellis County.


Some Facebook respondents Thursday on the Ellis County Health Department site expressed frustration at not knowing if the county’s first case was from someone who traveled outside the county, or if it was a case of community spread.


The Hays Greenhouse statement answered that question.


“This employee lives in Hays and has not traveled outside the city (except to work at Hays Greenhouse),” it said.


Posters thanked the Pfannenstiel’s for clarifying that issue.


“Thank you for the update,” said Mary Riggs. “Prayers for you all, and a full recovery for your infected employee.”


“Thank you for the transparency,” said Amy Normandin. “Love your Greenhouse, and can’t wait to visit you soon.”


As a result of the COVID-19 case, the owners said some of its employees are in quarantine.


“With his first symptom of chest heaviness followed by a low-grade fever and weakness, he started self-quarantining at home,” the statement said. “Temperature then rose to 101.8F. With the employee testing positive, our other employees who worked during this time period are also on a 14-day quarantine.”


Posters offered well-wishes for all the employees’ health and welfare.


“So sorry to learn of this,” said Margie Hammerschmidt. “Thank you for sharing the facts. Prayers for a speedy recovery and good health to all of you.”


“Thank you for the info,” said Jenna Schmeidler. “A lot are worried. Hope he recovers fast!”


“Prayers for all of you & a speedy recovery for your employee,” said Maria Dreiling Goetz. “Thank you for sharing the facts.”


The owners said anyone who may have been in contact with their employee is being contacted.


“We have been working with the Ellis County Health Department to contact any individual that may have been exposed,” they said. “Please respect the privacy of our employees and keep them in your thoughts and prayers. If you have any concerns, please contact ECHD. We want to thank you for your support and want to keep everyone safe!”


The owners said their seasonal staff started back on Friday, and that the greenhouse will re-open Monday.


“We are still encouraging phone orders. If you need to see inventory, we will only allow one person in a greenhouse at a time,” they said. “We will not allow any customers in our store front. An employee will take the plants inside to ring them up. This will allow less exposure for customers and our employees.”