Workplace outbreaks leading to COVID-19 surge in LA, health officials say

What is driving Los Angeles County’s surge in coronavirus cases? Health officials say workplace outbreaks are the culprit.

Public health inspectors have responded to 2,000 to 3,000 complaints a week over the last few months regarding potential health protocol violations at workplaces, Health Officer Dr. Muntu Davis said Thursday.

Davis said food processing companies and distribution facilities such as meatpacking plants, manufacturers, garment factories and wholesale warehouses are most vulnerable to outbreaks.

“These workplaces have several things in common,” he said. “They’re large employers with large numbers of low-wage workers, and they have workers who are spending long shifts together in close proximity and in indoor spaces.”

He also said many employers are still falling short of meeting operating protocols, saying the county is “not seeing compliance that we need with the public health director directives being in place to keep people’s health and livelihood safe.”

Davis warned of potential fines levied against employers who violate safety protocols.

Los Angeles Apparel in South L.A. was recently shut down after more than 300 workers contracted coronavirus, resulting in the death of four people. County Public Health Director Dr. Barbara Ferrer said the facility was shut down for violating pandemic safety protocols and won’t be allowed to reopen until it comes into compliance.

Workplaces in the county are required to implement physical distancing, face covering use and implement infection control practices. Employees can report workplace concerns or violations anonymously at 1-888-700-9995.

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