‘Completely Unacceptable’: Nearly 70 COVID-19 Cases At Two Utah County Businesses
PROVO, Utah – An outbreak of 68 COVID-19 cases can be traced to two Utah County businesses that instructed employees to disobey quarantine guidelines and required infected employees to come to work, according to county officials.
“This is completely unacceptable,” the Utah County Commission said in a letter to the community.
At one of the businesses, 48% of the employees became infected.
“We found these businesses instructed employees to not follow quarantine guidelines after exposure to a confirmed case at work and required employees with a confirmed COVID-19 diagnosis to still report to work,” the commissioners write in the letter.
Both companies have been cooperative since the outbreak was discovered, officials with the Utah County Health Department said. One closed down over the weekend and was professionally cleaned and both will have to obey heightened requirements for future cleanings and inspections.
“Businesses who fail to follow COVID-19 guidelines are putting employees, their families and ultimately the health of the community at risk,” the letter said. “Additionally, employers not following best practices jeopardize Utah County efforts to reopen businesses affected by the pandemic.”
However, the county stopped short of identifying the companies, saying such a disclosure would violate the privacy of the workers.
The county’s epidemiologist said it’s also not necessary to know the names of the businesses since they aren’t public-facing and don’t have customers on-site.
“We’re trying to balance the person’s and the businesses’ privacy along with the public’s need to know,” said Lisa Guerra, manager of Utah County’s epidemiology program. “And the public’s need to know would be if they had a potential exposure.”
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— UtahCountyHealthDept (@UCHD) May 6, 2020
The letter did explain that the two companies were in different geographical regions of the county.
Utah County Commissioner Tanner Ainge said the situation is “highly disturbing” and puts the health of the public and the economy at risk.
“There’s a lot of us who are eager to reopen,” Ainge said in an interview with KSL. “And to reopen we’re willing to follow the guidelines and do this so we can get back to work and get people back to work and when something like this happens, one bad actor can ruin it for all of us.”
Ainge described one of the businesses as a manufacturing facility and the other as a construction site.
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How Do I Prevent It?
The CDC has some simple recommendations, most of which are the same for preventing other respiratory illnesses or the flu:
- Avoid close contact with people who may be sick
- Avoid touching your face
- Stay home when you are sick
- Cover your cough or sneeze with a tissue and then throw the tissue in the trash
- Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds, especially after going to the bathroom, before eating, and after blowing your nose, coughing or sneezing. Always wash your hands with soap and water if your hands are visibly dirty.
- If soap and water are not readily available, use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol.
How To Get Help
If you’re worried you may have COVID-19, you can contact the Utah Coronavirus Information Line at 1-800-456-7707 to speak to trained healthcare professionals. You can also use telehealth services through your healthcare providers.
If you see evidence of PRICE GOUGING, the Utah Attorney General’s Office wants you to report it. Common items in question include toilet paper, water, hand sanitizer, certain household cleaners, and even cold medicine and baby formula. Authorities are asking anyone who sees price gouging to report it to the Utah Division of Consumer Protection at 801-530-6601 or 800-721-7233. The division can also be reached by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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