A local labor union said an outbreak of COVID-19 at a Tucson United Parcel Service distribution facility is more widespread than first thought.
As reported May 24 in the Arizona Daily Star, Teamster Local 104 said 36 employees at the south-side facility had tested positive for the coronavirus.
Here are the latest updates related to COVID-19 from Tucson and Southern Arizona.
According to the new press release, dated Thursday, May 28, the number of employees who have tested positive has risen to 43 in the last three weeks, after an additional 85 employees were tested last Saturday.
“This number does not include family members that have tested positive or members of the public that could have been exposed to COVID-19 through community spread originating from the UPS facility,” the statement said.
The statement also cited CDC guidance in calling for the temporary closure of the facility, testing of every employee at the facility and an aggressive contact tracing program.
“Potential outbreaks need to be ‘investigated by a special team of experts’ and more stringent mitigation and investigation protocols need to be put in place,” the release stated.
An earlier Teamsters news release said UPS and the Arizona Department of Health Services “refused to disclose the extent of the outbreak,” at the distribution facility, home to nearly 700 employees.
Kim Krebs, spokeswoman for UPS, would not answer specific questions about the facility, but she did refer to a news release crafted in response to the union.
“Our first priority is always the safety of our employees and the communities we serve,” the statement said.
Although the UPS statement parallels the Teamsters’ by confirming the amount of tests administered on site, it contends the company is doing its part to keep employees safe, offering up as evidence mask-wearing and cleaning protocols.
The statement also breaks with the union by challenging the assertion employees who have tested positive picked up the virus at work.
“We do not assume, and neither should others, that cases of infection occur as a result of the work environment, especially when there is a community spread,” the statement said.
Edward Celaya is on hiatus from the Star Opinion section and Editorial Board while he temporarily fills in for news reporters on furlough. He will not be writing opinion about any subjects he covers in news stories for the foreseeable future.
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