AURORA, Colo. — The Tri-County Health Department is in “active and frequent communication” with the Aurora In-N-Out location, which as of this writing has had 62 employees test positive for COVID-19 in recent weeks, making it the second largest restaurant outbreak in the state.
The largest is at the In-N-Out location in Colorado Springs, where according to the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment (CDPHE) 83 employees have tested positive for the novel coronavirus.
“We are experiencing a substantial improvement in the number of new COVID-19 cases occurring among our teams in Colorado,” a statement provided to 9NEWS by Danny Warnick, In-N-Out’s president of operations, reads. “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.”
Ashley Richter, the communicable disease epidemiology manager for Tri-County Health (TCHD), said the department is providing isolation and quarantine guidance for In-N-Out’s employees as well as masking and distance requirements.
“TCHD is working with In-N-Out at their process to see where recommendations above and beyond normal outbreak recommendations can be implemented,” she said in an email to 9NEWS.
Warnick said In-N-Out has been limiting the number of employees and customers indoors as well as using staffing “cohorts” to limit interaction between employees.
The two outbreaks at In-N-Out are by far the largest involving restaurants in the state. The third largest – at Warehouse 2565 in Mesa County – involved eight employees and 16 customers. Another now-resolved outbreak at Bubba’s 33 in El Paso County sickened 23 employees, according to CDPHE’s data.
In-N-Out’s outbreak comes following an opening day where people lined up for hours at the drive-thru of the Aurora restaurant, which arrived in Colorado after years of buzz.
The El Paso County Health Department has not responded to an inquiry from 9NEWS as of this writing.
A spokesperson for the CDPHE said local public health agencies are taking the lead on the In-N-Out outbreaks, and it's up to them to decide if a business should close.
"Closure can be avoided if businesses work with their local public health agencies to sanitize properly, send employees home to quarantine as appropriate and identify exposed contacts," an email from CDPHE read. "Businesses can always choose to temporarily close to mitigate the spread of COVID-19."
The largest COVID-19 outbreaks in the state continue to be at prisons and universities.
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