This Beloved Burger Chain Is Suffering a Massive COVID Outbreak
The popular restaurant is now responsible for the biggest restaurant outbreak in Colorado.
The act of going out to eat has certainly changed amid the coronavirus pandemic. But thankfully, swinging through your favorite fast food joint's drive-thru window from the relative safety of your car has made it possible to still enjoy some of your favorite comfort meals. But even restaurants taking proper precautions amid the pandemic are feeling the effects of skyrocketing national coronavirus numbers—including In-N-Out Burger, which is currently experiencing a severe COVID outbreak.
Over the past two weeks, the wildly popular burger chain has watched as cases linked to their locations have been reported in droves. "Nothing is more important to us than the health and safety of our customers and associates. We are committed to doing our part in preventing the transmission of the COVID-19 virus," Denny Warnick, vice president of operations for In-N-Out Burger, said in a statement. Read on to find out where COVID cases have been linked back to In-N-Out Burger, and for a subtle sign you could be sick, check out If This Part of Your Body Hurts, You Could Have COVID.
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The affected In-N-Out Burgers are in Colorado.
News of a COVID outbreak at In-N-Out first came to light after a report from the Colorado Department of Public Health & Environment (CDPHE) was published on Dec. 23. Officials declared an outbreak among employees at the chain's two Colorado locations, which only opened weeks ago in the cities of Aurora and Colorado Springs, Fox News reports.
According to Colorado health officials, an "outbreak" is defined as any location with more than two infections. Now, 28 days must pass with no new positive cases for it to be considered resolved. And for more on how bad the pandemic is where you live, check out This Is How Bad the COVID Outbreak Is in Your State.
Hundreds of employees have been infected.
According to official figures, 80 employees of the chain were initially reported to have been infected between both locations. But despite ordering any ill employees or workers who had been in close contact with them to stay home, recent reports have shown that the number has swelled to 145 employees testing positive for the virus as of Jan. 7. The Colorado Springs location's 83 reported cases and Aurora's 62 cases make them the two largest restaurant outbreaks in the state, according to CDPHE figures.
"At this time, we have less than five active confirmed cases between our two locations, although we know that trends can change quickly," Warnick told local NBC affiliate 9News on Jan. 7. "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." And for more regular coronavirus updates, sign up for our daily newsletter.
The recently opened In-N-Out Burgers have been seriously popular.
Fortunately, despite the high number of reported employee cases, there have been no established links with customers testing positive after dining at either of the In-N-Out locations. This is also despite the high popularity of the weeks-old businesses, which have seen crowds at drive-thrus and dining rooms that have resulted in wait times of up to 14 hours to score one of the coveted burgers. And for more on where the U.K. variant is starting to spread, check out The New COVID Strain Is Now in These 8 States.
Both In-N-Out Burger locations remain open.
Even though they're seeing high concentrations of employees fall ill, both Colorado In-N-Out Burger locations remain open. Local health officials have given the green light for the burger joints to keep serving customers. "Currently there is not a recommendation to close the location," said Natalie Sosa, spokeswoman for El Paso County where the Colorado Springs restaurant is located. "Based on Public Health's follow up and investigation, In-N-Out is adhering to frequent cleaning and disinfecting protocols, in addition to enacting employee screenings, exclusion of ill employees, and cohorting staff. Recommendations to temporarily close are given when transmission within the facility is identified and to allow for proper cleaning and disinfecting." And for the state with the worst numbers overall, check out This State Now Has the Worst COVID Outbreak in the U.S.