The second wave continues to claim victims across the country.
BuzzFeed reported on Saturday that more than 300 employees at the Los Angeles Apparel garment manufacturing company tested positive for COVID-19. Per public health officials, this outbreak has caused four deaths.
This comes after the Los Angeles County Department of Public Health told the manufacturer on June 27 to shut down its downtown Los Angeles factory due to several violations of coronavirus restrictions. It now says that the establishment will remain closed after several deaths have been linked back to the facility.
The investigation into the factory began this month following the deaths of three employees in June and one in July. Officials were first made aware of a potential outbreak at the factory on June 19, but the company refused to participate in the investigation. The next week, the Department of Health officials visited the factory and discovered "multiple violations of distancing requirements and infection control protocols"—including using cardboard to separate workers. It then ordered Los Angeles Apparel to shut down its production.
Yet, in July, officials evaded the company's attempts to restrict their access and found that it had violated the orders to continue production with new employees. These actions and the ensuing outbreak moved the Department of Public Health director Dr. Barbara Ferrer to explain that companies have a "moral and social responsibility" to their employees during these risky times.
"The death of four dedicated garment workers is heartbreaking and tragic," Dr. Barbara Ferrer said. "Business owners and operators have a corporate, moral, and social responsibility to their employees and their families to provide a safe work environment that adheres to all of the health officer directives — this responsibility is important, now more than ever, as we continue to fight this deadly virus."
In response to the investigation, the founder and CEO of Los Angeles Apparel, Dov Charney, stated that the department gave "conflicting directives" about reopening and that it didn't hire new staff.
"I think maybe we hired an intern or something, that's it," he said before claiming that the company "never withheld information." Los Angeles Apparel goes on to claim that this move doesn't address the larger issue at hand.
"It’s morally irresponsible for the Health Department to speak on the infection rates at our factory without also addressing its connection to the issue at large: that the Latino community in Los Angeles is left vulnerable to COVID-19 in a healthcare system that provides no support with testing and no support or assistance for those that test positive," the statement reads.