The health department opened an investigation, which included a request that the company send a list of all employees – a request that, according to the health department, was not met even after several calls. On June 26, the health service made a site visit and the next day, the factory was closed.
According to Ms. King, the violations discovered included cardboard barriers between workstations and guidance material on coronaviruses that had not been translated into Spanish (the first language of most employees). An official also noted a lack of training on health protocols so that when asked by a doctor, the employee who was supposed to be tracking his symptoms could not indicate what they were – even if they were posted on the wall behind the employee. .
Although some of the infractions were minor, said King, it appeared that the company was not taking seriously the documents the health department had sent and listing the changes to be made. As a result, the investigation team went from one person to ten.
The factory reopened briefly on July 9 before being forced to close again.
Mr. Charney disputed almost all of these facts. He said it was the company itself that alerted the health department for the first time; that the company had done its best to provide the requested list of employees but that there were confidentiality issues; that the cardboard was added to the rules of social distancing (and had been recommended by a consultant because the virus does not live long on the cardboard).
He also said it was up to the health department to translate their documents into Spanish – not the company.
The health department’s legal department, he said, had told him that the plant could reopen on July 9, although Ms. King said that a written document allowing the reopening was first required. Charney attributed the confusion to “miscommunication” in a busy department.