2 Utah County businesses did not force COVID-19 employees to work, county attorney says

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UTAH COUNTY, Utah (ABC4 News)- Earlier this month a letter from the Utah County Commission claimed two businesses in Utah County reportedly refused to follow Utah’s COVID-19 protocols resulting in dozens of sick employees. Tuesday, Utah County Attorney David Leavitt said that’s not necessarily the case.

During a Zoom press conference Tuesday morning Leavitt said if the county commission knew then what they know now they wouldn’t have shared the letter.

The letter sent on May 4th, reported two businesses in different locations of Utah County did not follow COVID-19 best practices which resulted in 68 positive COVID-19 cases, including 48 percent of employees being infected at one business.

“During the tracing contacts conducted by the Utah County Health Department and Utah Department of Health, we found these businesses instructed employees to not follow quarantine guidelines after exposure to a confirmed case at work and required employees with a confirmed COVID-19 diagnosis to still report to work,” it read in part.

“The businesses didn’t compel anyone to work,” Leavitt said Tuesday.

Leavitt said at the time, the county commission was trying to protect the public by warning other businesses and residents of the dangers of not following the COVID-19 protocols.

“I am one of the Utahns that has tested positive COVID-19…so I understand the gravity of this virus,” he said.

He said they were told about the two businesses after the Utah County Health Department interviewed those who tested positive for the virus.

During those contact tracing interviews Leavitt said certain statements were made that led the health department to believe that people were being forced to work despite having tested positive.

Leavitt said his team met with the health dept. to investigate the matter further but he said it became abundantly clear that there was nothing to investigate.

“What we learned from that is that the original communication from the health dept. wasn’t accurate,” he said. “There were not two businesses who were forcing employees to work. That was information that was not right. It was information that was communicated from the health department to the county commission.”

Leavitt was clear that he did not want the health department vilified.

“The health department is doing their very best under very difficult circumstances,” he said.

Leavitt said since the county commission notified the public in the first place, they thought it was important to admit “our information was bad.”

ABC4 has reached out to the Utah Health Dept. in response.

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