• Los Angeles health department ordered the closure of Los Angeles Apparel factory
  • More than 300 of its employees tested positive for COVID-19
  • A visit from the health department determined the factory violated the county's mandatory social distancing protocols

The Los Angeles health department ordered the closure of a garment factory after over 300 employees tested positive for COVID-19.

County health officials announced Friday, July 10, that a closure order was served to Los Angeles Apparel after discovering 300 of its factory employees had COVID-19. The department was also conducting an investigation into the deaths of four factory workers to determine if they socialwere COVID-19-related.

The garment manufacturer had three deaths in June and another one in July, according to reports. This prompted the Los Angeles County Department of Public Health to investigate the matter, officials announced in a statement.

Los Angeles health department orders the closure of Los Angeles Apparel
Los Angeles health department orders the closure of Los Angeles Apparel Larissa Mora Lary - Pixabay

Dr. Barbara Ferrer, the Los Angeles County Public Health Director, said that the deaths of the four garment workers were tragic and heartbreaking. "Business owners and operators have a corporate, moral and social responsibility to their employees and their families to provide a safe work environment."

Dov Charney, the founder of American Apparel, established the Los Angeles Apparel in 2016. After the health department discovered the company violated the county's mandatory health orders, it ordered the closure June 27. Health officials revealed the company failed to cooperate with the investigation of the health department of a reported coronavirus outbreak in the company.

On June 19, a concerned healthcare provider informed county health officials about another possible outbreak at the Los Angeles Apparel factory. The health department revealed despite its multiple requests for the company to furnish them with a list of all its employees, Los Angeles Apparel failed to do so. They reported 151 confirmed cases at the time.

The health department said the list was a crucial tool for test result comparison and for determining the magnitude of the outbreak.

"It allows DPH to track employees against DPH's list of confirmed positive or negative Covid-19 individuals received from testing labs," according to the health department.

When health department inspectors visited the factory June 26, they saw multiple violations of infection control protocols and physical distancing requirements. This included using cardboards as barriers between factory workers, the health department revealed.

The health department provided Los Angeles Apparel with detailed instructions on the steps they need to do in order for them to reopen. On July 4, the department received a partial list of all employees working at the company along with a report of 198 confirmed cases of infection. The department then used that list for comparison with laboratory results and determined that as of July 10, there were over 300 cases at the factory site.

While Los Angeles County's department of public health informed the company through a letter that only those who tested positive on or before June 26 can return to work if they do not have symptoms, Los Angeles Apparel reopened its factory with new employees and violated the order of the health officer. "At this time, Los Angeles Apparel is under orders to remain closed until they can show that the facility is in full compliance with Public Health mandates," said the health department.

During a phone interview with CNN on Friday, Charney disputed the allegations of health department officials, saying they were operating in "bad faith" and "looking for scapegoats." He also suggested the department's decision to close the factory was "political."