Coronavirus: California garment plant shuttered after more than 300 COVID-19 cases, 4 deaths

LOS ANGELES — Health officials have ordered the closure of a South Los Angeles garment manufacturing facility after more than three-quarters of its nearly 400 employees have tested positive for COVID-19, resulting in at least four deaths.

The Los Angeles County Department of Public Health on Friday ordered the shuttering of Los Angeles Apparel after learning three of the facility’s employees died in June, followed by the fourth in early July.

“The death of four dedicated garment workers is heartbreaking and tragic,” Barbara Ferrer, the health department’s director, said in a statement. “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.”

According to The Hill, a health care provider had first notified the health department June 19 of a potential outbreak at the plant, prompting an immediate investigation. The company did not comply with multiple requests for a list of employees to compare against testing results provided to the health department.

Meanwhile, inspectors who visited the plant observed “multiple violations of distancing requirements and infection control protocols,” including cardboard being used to separate employees, the Hill reported.

Citing “flagrant violations of mandatory public health infection control orders,” the health department ordered Los Angeles Apparel to close on June 27, and extended that order indefinitely July 10, after learning of the fatalities.

Meanwhile, the garment manufacturer’s founder Dov Charney told the Los Angeles Times that his company’s communications with the department have been “a maze of conflicting directions” and called its characterization of Los Angeles Apparel’s alleged negligence “outrageous.”

“We believe that at all times — since the launch of the epidemic — we’ve been doing our best in doing social distancing and following every directive we’re aware of,” Charney told the Times. “We’re dealing with a massive epidemic that has risen astronomically in our community, in South L.A., and it’s manifested itself in our factory.”

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