Colorado's Two In-N-Out Locations Make the COVID Outbreak List

In-N-Out finally made it from California to Colorado last month.
In-N-Out finally made it from California to Colorado last month. Peter F. at Flickr
Early on December 27, Governor Jared Polis extended an executive order regarding the state's COVID-19 Dial Framework, which has allowed some dining rooms to reopen under the new 5 Star Certification program; Polis also extended his executive order of the state's disaster declaration.

But for many, the real disaster was the latest COVID-19 outbreak list from the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment, which included both Colorado locations of the California-based In-N-Out burger chain. After much anticipation, the two stores just opened a month ago, to lines that stretched longer than twelve hours and resulted in actual fisticuffs.

The outbreak at the In-N-Out at 1840 Democracy Point in Colorado Springs was declared on December 6, according to the CDPHE; sixty employees have tested positive, and there are another nine possible cases among staffers. The outbreak at the outpost at 14150 East Alameda in Aurora dates to December 17; twenty staff members have tested positive and another sixteen employees are listed as probable COVID-19 cases.

The CDPHE defines an outbreak as when two or more COVID-19 cases among residents, staffers or other people connected to a specific location 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. The vast majority of businesses and facilities identified as outbreaks remain open while working with the department to monitor symptoms and prevent future infections — and these In-N-Out locations are definitely still open.

"We continue to work closely with our public health agencies and have confirmed the appropriate steps to help protect our communities," Denny Warnick, In-N-Out vice president of operations, said in a statement responding to the news. "These steps include: limiting staff to the minimum number necessary to serve our Customers, using staff 'cohorts' to limit possible exposure, and limiting dining room access to takeout orders only while ensuring appropriate physical distancing." (Of course, dining rooms are off-limits in both Aurora and Colorado Springs, which are located in counties that have hit Level Red on the CDPHE dial and have not qualified for the 5 Star Program.)

Since April, the CDPHE has been issuing weekly outbreak lists every Wednesday; fast-food outposts have made frequent appearances, as have grocery stores, schools and big-box stores. After a slow summer, the weekly numbers picked up this fall; new outbreaks have topped 200 every week since November 11

On the December 23 CDPHE list, the total number of outbreaks across the state since the pandemic began hit 2944, up 208 from the week before.  Of those, 1,670 were listed as resolved, and 1,270 as active...including the outbreaks at Colorado's two In-N-Out locations.

Michael Roberts, who's been tracking the CDPHE's weekly outbreaks list, is taking some time off; he'll update his regular coverage when he returns in early January.
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Patricia Calhoun co-founded Westword in 1977; she’s been the editor ever since. She’s a regular on the weekly CPT12 roundtable Colorado Inside Out, played a real journalist in John Sayles’s Silver City, once interviewed President Bill Clinton while wearing flip-flops, and has been honored with numerous national awards for her columns and feature-writing.
Contact: Patricia Calhoun

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