COVID-19: Chick-fil-A on Leading Colorado in Restaurant Outbreaks

The Chick-fil-A restaurant at 9976 West Remington Place in Littleton was designated a COVID-19 outbreak site.
The Chick-fil-A restaurant at 9976 West Remington Place in Littleton was designated a COVID-19 outbreak site. Google Maps
Chick-fil-A stands above every other restaurant chain doing business in Colorado in one ignominious category: COVID-19 outbreaks.

Thus far, the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment has declared six Chick-fil-A outlets to be outbreaks. No other restaurant company comes close to that total, including major fast-food competitors. Two outbreaks have been declared at McDonald's outlets; Panda Express, Arby's, Culver's and Jack in the Box account for one each; and prominent outfits such as Burger King, Wendy's, Taco Bell and many others have dodged the viral bullet in Colorado thus far.

The CDPHE considers a facility an outbreak after two or more COVID-19 cases among residents, staffers or the like are confirmed within a fourteen-day period, or two or more cases of respiratory illness with an onset of symptoms within a fourteen-day period are paired with at least one additional COVID-19 diagnosis. Here's the department's list of Chick-fil-A locations that qualify under this standard:
Chick-Fil-A — 5600 South Parker Road, Aurora
Chick-Fil-A — 3605 South College Avenue, Fort Collins
Chick-Fil-A — 10280 Federal Boulevard, Federal Heights
Chick-Fil-A — 2035 Prairie Center Parkway, Brighton
Chick-Fil-A — 9976 W Remington Place, Littleton
Chick-Fil-A — 7809 Wadsworth Boulevard, Arvada
Cumulatively, 28 staffers at these sites tested positive for COVID-19, while twenty others have probable cases. The investigations at the Fort Collins, Federal Heights and Littleton restaurants are designated as resolved in the most recent CDPHE outbreaks report, issued on July 15, while the other three were marked active.

We reached out to Chick-fil-A's corporate headquarters in College Park, Georgia, to ask a number of questions about the chain's COVID-19 challenges in Colorado. Among the most important: Why do you think so many Chick-fil-A restaurants have become outbreaks? Have you re-examined policies and procedures in light of the multiple outbreaks here? If so, have you instituted any changes to make the venues safer for employees and customers, and what are they?

Unfortunately, the company didn't address any of these specific queries, choosing instead to issue a single statement: "Our highest priority is the health and well-being of our Team Members and Guests. If a Team Member is diagnosed with COVID-19, the restaurant initiates the response protocol and takes precautionary measures, including disinfecting and deep cleaning the restaurant. Safe service is our top priority and our restaurants continue to follow CDC and local health department guidelines."

The Chick-fil-A communication team also sent links to pages on its website related to the chain's general COVID-19 procedures and safety precautions being taken at restaurants in general. The latter links to an article on The Chicken Wire, an online public-relations effort that describes itself as providing "visually rich stories, company news and behind-the-scenes access to our culture, history, partnerships and initiatives." But given that the piece is dated May 6, it's not exactly responsive to the Colorado outbreaks, all of which were declared after its publication.

The next outbreak report will be released later today, July 22.
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Michael Roberts has written for Westword since October 1990, serving stints as music editor and media columnist. He currently covers everything from breaking news and politics to sports and stories that defy categorization.
Contact: Michael Roberts