00:46 EDT, Saturday July 11, 2020
LOS ANGELES (AP) – Los Angeles Apparel, one of the city's largest apparel manufacturers, was shut down after the death of four employees and more than 300 positive tests for the coronavirus, Los Angeles County health officials said on Friday.
Public health officials issued the order on Thursday.
The company's South Los Angeles factory, which has gone from making clothing to making face masks, was reported on June 27 for "blatant violations of mandatory public health infection control regulations" such as physical detachment of the district health ministry closed.
The company was informed this week that employees who tested positive on or before June 26 could only return to work if they reopened if they had been febrile-free for three days without antipyretic drugs. But the manufacturer then reopened with what appeared to be new workers, the department said.
Founder Dov Charney said on Friday that the workers were in fact older workers who tested negative for COVID-19, along with other employees who showed no symptoms.
Charney said his company was trying to follow "disjointed, confusing, and contradictory" instructions from health officials. Charney also said he believed he had been given permission to reopen Wednesday and Thursday before being asked to shutdown.
"We received a letter from the prosecutor and I fully understood that we can open again," he said.
Three Los Angeles Apparel apparel workers died in early June and another in early July, the authorities said.
Dr. The district's director of public health, Barbara Ferrer, described the deaths as tragic, saying that entrepreneurs "have an entrepreneurial, moral, and social responsibility towards their employees and families to create a safe work environment."
Charney said the company has not been prohibited from selling its existing products or has been ordered to recall them. Health experts say that the virus does not live long on fabrics or other surfaces and spreads mainly through contact with droplets of infected people.
For most people, the new coronavirus causes mild or moderate symptoms such as fever and cough that improve in two to three weeks. For some, especially older adults and people with existing health problems, this can lead to more serious illnesses, including pneumonia and death.
Charney said the company is socially distant in the factory and has taken other measures to prevent the spread of infection, but employs up to 1,500 people at the same time.
"We can't control everyone's behavior on their way home while they take breaks on the streets of Los Angeles," said Charney in a densely populated urban area where the virus has seen an increase.