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Costco employees in Henderson test positive for coronavirus

Updated March 31, 2020 - 2:03 pm

Two Costco employees at separate wholesale stores in Henderson have tested positive for the coronavirus, according to company letters circulating on social media.

Costco spokeswoman Muriel Cooper Tuesday refused to confirm the positive cases at the two stores — one at 3411 St. Rose Parkway and the other at 791 Marks St. “Costco has no comment,” she said in an email.

But a company source confirmed that the letters are accurate.

Southern Nevada Health District spokeswoman Jennifer Sizemore said the agency does not “provide employment information for confirmed cases unless part of a public notification.”

On Monday, in response to an inquiry from the Review-Journal, Cooper acknowledged that there “are confirmed cases of COVID-19 among our employees” in Nevada. But she refused to name the stores.

Related: Walmart’s new safety measures at stores: Checking temperatures

“We are communicating relevant information to our employees,“ she said in an email.

Her response came after the newspaper provided her with copies of letters sent to Costco employees by the managers of the two Henderson stores notifying the employees of the positive tests.

In their letters, the managers said they were informing the workers in the “spirit of transparency.”

Matt Freitas, who manages the St. Rose Costco, said in his letter that an employee who worked in the “merchandising department” from 4 a.m. to 10 a.m. Tuesday through Friday tested positive on March 28. The worker’s last day was March 16.

Max Ramos, the manager on Marks Street, said the employee who tested positive at his store worked in the “front-end department” from 10:30 a.m. to 7 p.m. The employee’s last day of work was March 23.

Both managers, who said they could not comment publicly, told their employees in letters that they contacted the Southern Nevada Health District and were conducting additional cleaning.

“Please continue to practice social distancing to the best of your abilities and good hygiene,” the mangers wrote. “We share this information in the spirit of transparency; however we also understand this can cause heightened anxiety.”

This comes as state officials reported Tuesday that the number of COVID-19 cases in Nevada surpassed 1,100.

The managers said in their letters they would “communicate directly with co-workers known to have been in close contact” with the infected employees at the two stores.

“Current health guidelines state that people who have not been in close contact with a sick person are at low risk for infection,” they added. “We and the entire Costco management team are prepared to help support employees during these serious and evolving times.”

Craig Jelinek, president and CEO of Costco, said in a letter to customers last week that the stores have also increased their protocols in sanitizing surfaces and limiting how many popular items customers can purchase at a time.

Costco, which has five stores in the valley, recently reduced its hours for gas and stores.

Contact Jeff German at jgerman@reviewjournal.com or 702-380-4564. Follow @JGermanRJ on Twitter. German is a member of the Review-Journal’s investigative team, focusing on reporting that holds leaders and agencies accountable and exposes wrongdoing. Support our journalism. Reporter Bailey Schulz contributed to this story.

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