Coronavirus outbreak reported among 10 UPS facilities across Los Angeles County

Health officials Thursday reported an 84-patient outbreak among 10 UPS facilities scattered across Los Angeles County.

"We continue to see outbreaks in manufacturing facilities, food processing facilities, the warehouses environments where workers are indoors together for long periods of time and may or may not have adequate personal protective equipment," Los Angeles County's health officer, Dr. Muntu Davis said. "Our outbreaks management branch and environmental health inspector teams have been very busy conducting site visits at various (work sites) across the county to make sure that employers are doing all they can to keep their employees safe.

"We've seen what happens when workplace protections and practices aren't in place -- outbreaks occur and people can die," he said.

RELATED: LA County health officer again urges businesses to heed virus prevention order

Davis said the UPS outbreak involved facilities in Los Angeles, Bell, Gardena, Vernon, Cerritos, Sylmar and Van Nuys. Three of those individual outbreaks appeared to be "epidemiologically linked or connected." The affected employees served in a wide range of positions, and no deaths from the outbreak have been reported, he said.

UPS released a statement Friday morning to FOX 11, stating:

“UPS cares deeply about keeping our employees safe while serving our communities, and we have taken extensive steps to help prevent the spread of the coronavirus. While one case is too many, the Los Angeles County Health Department’s report reflects less than 1 percent of our more than 11,000 employees in the area, and we are hopeful for each person’s full recovery.

UPS continuously shares the hygiene and social distancing protocols suggested by the CDC with all employees. The company has modified and will continue to modify, our normal operating procedures to maintain social distance protocols. For example, we have added space between work stations inside our facilities and suspended requiring customers to sign for 'signature required' packages. We require that employees wear masks or face coverings in our operations, and when interacting with the public. We make masks available to our employees and provide the guidelines to properly use them.”

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Davis noted that a smaller UPS outbreak involving 10 employees occurred in June, but investigators concluded that those infections likely occurred in the community, not at the workplace.

"I know the biggest question that people may have with this is, can I get COVID-19 from a package or mail," Davis said. "According to the Centers for Disease Control, the virus can survive for short period of time on some surfaces, but it's unlikely to spread from mail, products or packaging. Most research shows that COVID-19 is spread primarily through droplets. It may be possible that someone can get COVID 19 from touching a surface or an item that has the virus on it and then touching their nose, mouth or possibly their eyes. But this is not the main way the virus spreads."

He recommended that people wash their hands after opening a package or mail.

CNS contributed to this report.