The Santa Clarita Valley’s eastside Target department store suffered a recent outbreak in COVID-19 cases among essential workers in the store, as the third positive case has been confirmed.
Employees of the store received an automated text message on May 11th stating, “Out of an abundance of caution, we’re sharing that an additional positive COVID-19 case at Target was reported today. The team member was last in the store on 05/08. Our priority is the health and safety of our team members and guests.”
The first case in the store was confirmed April 18th, bringing the total number of confirmed cases to three in the span of a month, according to workers briefed by higher management.
A facility is not required to fully shut down when an employee tests positive for COVID-19, but they must close off any areas used for prolonged periods of time by the sick person, according to the Center for Diseases Control (CDC).
“We go through a check list of sanitary measures every day, and when an employee tests positive for the virus their station is sanitized. A whole separate team comes in to sanitize the store beyond the infected employee’s area before team members come in the next day,” representatives of Target’s human resources department said.
Though there have not been additional confirmed cases since May 11, some employees at the store remain uneasy.
“Three people called out this morning,” one employee told Canyons News under the condition of anonymity. “It’s hard to fill the schedule when people call out, plus we have so many people still on leave.”
Employees not showing up for shifts at the store became more common as the virus progressed. Many told Canyons News they don’t feel safe under current working conditions.
“I can’t risk getting my parents sick right now,” another employee said, noting they left the store after the first case was confirmed.
Workers were told they can take an unpaid leave of absence or use sick hours. With many employees fearful of the number of cases rising, the store has started to hire additional help as more continue to take a leave of absence.
“I feel torn, because I’m worried about bringing the virus home to my family, but I can’t afford to be jobless right now,” another Target employee said. “Around the time the panic buying started to happen, the store started giving us 2 extra dollars an hour. It was nice at the time but now I feel like it’s how much our health is worth to them.”
According to the Los Angeles County’s Department of Public Health, essential businesses must participate in safety measures that include sending automated messages of confirmed cases within the workplace to employees, providing masks, gloves and proper access to sanitation products like hand sanitizer and soap.
A Target representative confirmed the company provides all of the following for employees and encourages them to be responsible for their own health as well.
“It’s important to keep ourselves safe by wearing masks, gloves, and sanitizing your hands, all of which we provide for employees,” the representative said. “Taking your temperature is also something that is important to monitor your health.”
The store is now adding 3 minutes each day on worker time cards to account for the time they are supposed to do a daily temperature check at home.