Utah County Attorney: Workers With COVID-19 Were Not Compelled To Work
PROVO, Utah – Utah County’s attorney issued a correction Tuesday and said county officials got part of the story wrong about two companies that had COVID-19 outbreaks.
“The businesses didn’t compel anyone to work,” said Utah County Attorney David Leavitt. “That’s an important fact to know.”
Leavitt said the allegation that the companies forced sick employees to work is inaccurate.
“As we’ve gotten deeper into the issue, we have learned that the assertions weren’t true,” he said.
Leavitt said the actual outbreak of 68 confirmed cases among the two companies is not in question.
Leavitt’s assertion contradicts the county commission and health department. At the beginning of May, the Utah County Commission wrote a letter to the pubic saying that two businesses had disobeyed health guidelines.
“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 diagnoses to still report to work,” the commissioners wrote.
“This is completely unacceptable,” the letter went on to say, adding that at one of the businesses 48% of the employees became infected.
Leavitt said the county commissioners received their information from the Utah County Health Department.
“The Utah County Health Department should not be vilified here,” he said. “The Utah County Health Department is doing their very best. I don’t know how they got it wrong, but we all get it wrong under the best of intentions.”
While issuing the correction, Leavitt said the county is standing firm with its decision to not release the names of the companies.
“We concluded to refuse to name the businesses in an effort at finding a balance between public safety on the one hand and the need for confidentiality on the other,” he said.
Leavitt said it is not necessary for the public to know the identities of the businesses because they do not have walk-in customers. Also, he said privacy laws prevent the county from revealing their names.
“Whether we were right or whether we were wrong in that decision not to name the businesses is something upon which reasonable people will debate and disagree,” Leavitt said.
Leavitt also said that there will be no criminal investigation into the companies’ actions.
The Utah County Health Department told KSL it had no comment on Tuesday but that the department would issue a written statement in the coming days to respond to Leavitt’s comments.
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