In-N-Out units in Colorado Springs and Aurora, Colo. drew long lines and fanfare when they opened in November – the first Colorado stores for the Irvine, Calif.-based burger chain – but they have gotten negative attention in the weeks since as they are centers of two COVID outbreaks.
The In-N-Out locations saw COVID-19 infections as early as mid-December, just two weeks after opening.
As of Jan. 8, there were 62 cases at the Aurora location, up from 42 the week prior, and 83 cases at the Colorado Springs location, up from 80. The outbreak at the Aurora location appears to be exponentially increasing while Colorado Springs’ outbreak is slowing.
Just before the Christmas holiday, combined infections at both locations totaled 80.
Employees who become ill are paid for missed shifts, and all employees have their temperature checked before shifts. However, the Centers for Disease Control has warned that temperature checks will not work on those who are infected but are asymptomatic or presymptomatic.
According to The Colorado Springs Business Journal, In-N-Out is responsible for the second-highest number of infections anywhere in El Paso County, second only to a nursing home.
The county’s Public Health Department is allowing the locations to stay open and has left the decision to close up to the chain itself. Both locations in Colorado remain open.
“Based on Public Health’s follow up and investigation, In-N-Out is adhering to frequent cleaning and disinfecting protocols, in addition to enacting employee screenings, exclusion of ill employees, and cohorting staff,” Public Health said in an emailed statement to the Business Journal. “Recommendations to temporarily close are given when transmission within the facility is identified and to allow for proper cleaning and disinfecting.”
The Public Health Department confirmed at that time there had been no customers infected.
"We are experiencing a substantial improvement in the number of new COVID-19 cases occurring among our teams in Colorado. At this time, we have less than five active confirmed cases between our two locations, although we know that trends can change quickly. The remaining Associates who tested positive have already recovered, and are presently healthy and well. While we feel positive about the improvement, we are concerned when any member of our Associate family is affected. We continue to keep them in our prayers and we’ll also continue to take action to keep our teams as safe as possible.
"We are working closely with our public health agencies to review and confirm that the proactive steps we are taking are appropriate and effective in protecting our communities. This includes limiting the number of Associates and Customers indoors, using staffing “cohorts”, and responding quickly to identify and exclude from work anyone who has been in close contact with an individual who has tested positive.
"We remain committed to doing our part to prevent the spread of COVID-19. The actions that we will continue to take in our Colorado restaurants are guided by our commitment to protect the health and safety of our Customers and Associates," said VP of Operations for In-N-Out Denny Warnick.
There appeared to also be a small outbreak beginning at In-N-Out locations in Los Angeles County. The LA Public Health Department noted eight cases at the location in Sherman Oaks, Calif., and seven cases at the Palmdale, Calif., location as of Jan. 7.
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