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Costco, Target, In-N-Out Among Workplaces Hit with Recent COVID Outbreaks in Los Angeles



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Workplaces remain an area of growing concern amid new COVID outbreaks at retail establishments as well as other businesses deemed essential in California. The massive increase in cases across the state is increasing the chances of workplace transmission, officials say.

“If you had a workplace before where you had 500 workers, there might be one person who was infected, so the risk of transmitting it to a lot of people was lower,” Dr. Jeffrey Gunzenhauser, Los Angeles County’s chief medical officer, said Sunday. “But now, with the prevalence of infection at 1% or higher, if they have 500 employees, maybe five are infected. And it magnifies the chances it can spread in the workplace.”

Data released by the county shows seven Costco warehouses with current clusters of confirmed cases of at least 15 infected staffers. There are also eight Home Depots in the county with active outbreaks and 10 outbreaks at Target locations, with 217 staff members infected.

There also have been infections recently among staff at six McDonald’s locations, four Chick-Fil-A restaurants and two In-N-Outs.

Best Buy stores, Trader Joe’s and Whole Foods markets in Los Angeles County have also been sites for recent outbreaks, the data shows.

The outbreaks can sometimes represent poor infection control practices at businesses, but sometimes they don’t. Earlier in the pandemic, officials said some outbreaks — defined as three or more reports of infections among workers at a business over a 14-day period — are more a sign of how widespread the virus is in this county of more than 10 million people, where the virus can be passed from social gatherings to workplaces and then to new homes — a vicious cycle.

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