In-N-Out Burger, the iconic fast-food chain with a cult following, opened its first two locations in Colorado last month. Both quickly became the scenes of COVID-19 outbreaks, with 80 employees now sickened and another 25 suspected of having the disease.
The new location in Colorado Springs was the first to be hit, according to the Department of Public Health & Environment, with an outbreak confirmed as of December 6, 2020 — just over two weeks after it began serving burgers and fries on November 20. Sixty employees are confirmed to have COVID-19, with another nine considered “probable” cases.
In-N-Out’s other Colorado location, in Aurora, had a confirmed outbreak as of December 17; at least 20 employees have COVID-19 and 16 others are presumed to be infected.
“Our thoughts and prayers are with our associates and we are hopeful for quick recoveries for each of these affected,” Denny Warnick, vice president of operations at In-N-Out, said in a statement provided to Insider. He noted that employees who test positive for the coronavirus, as well as those who have been in close contact with them, “have been excluded from the workplace.”
“We are closely monitoring these larger outbreaks in collaboration with local public health agencies,” the spokesperson said. “To prevent outbreaks, we need these businesses to ensure proper distancing and mask-wearing. Customers also should be distanced and wear masks at all times, even when going through the drive-thru. We all have a part to play in preventing the spread and keeping businesses open and as safe as possible.”
In a statement, In-N-Out vice president of operations Denny Warnick said the burger chain’s infected employees and their close contacts “have been excluded from the workplace.”
In-N-Out’s first Colorado locations set opening day in Aurora, Colorado Springs.
“We continue to work closely with our public health agencies and have confirmed the appropriate steps to help protect our communities,” he said. “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.”
He added that employees are regularly screened, a process that includes a temperature check, before beginning their shifts.
Outside of the state’s prison system, which continues to battle significant outbreaks, the In-N-Out breakout in Colorado Springs is one of the more sizable in the state, butting heads with the spread in long-term care facilities.
Of the roughly 50 fast food outbreaks that are active or have been resolved in Colorado since the spring, the Colorado Springs outbreak is the largest.