Nike Denies Public Health Worker Access to Tennessee Facility After COVID-19 Death

A controversial decision from the shoe manufacturer

Nike store
A temporarily closed Nike store.
GoToVan/Creative Commons
By Tobias Carroll / May 25, 2020 5:23 pm

If someone working in a warehouse had recently died from COVID-19, you’d think that the people running that warehouse would want the appropriate authorities to make sure that no one else working there was at risk of infection. But a new article suggests that, when it came to a Nike warehouse in Tennessee, the exact opposite of that is what took place.

Writing at ProPublica, Wendy C. Thomas has the details — all of which paint a worrying picture of the sneaker and apparel giant. On April 16, a county health department representative asked to enter a Nike facility in Memphis.

The security guard said no. It didn’t matter that the visitor was from the Shelby County Health Department.

It didn’t matter that she was there to investigate health conditions at a Nike distribution center where, five days earlier, company officials learned a temporary worker had died after testing positive for the novel coronavirus.

Nike’s mail order business has been up since the middle of March, as a result of the company temporarily closing their retail stores. This, in turn, has led to an increase of activity at their distribution centers like the one in Memphis.

A report at Business Insider notes that the Shelby County Health Department received 201 complaints about various businesses between March 26 and May 12. Only one business wouldn’t let an inspector inside — Nike.

Via a spokesperson, Nike noted that they have taken measures to increase social distancing since then, including installing plexiglas barriers. Even so, Nike has taken plenty of criticism for its decision in April. Given the role that indoor spaces have played in the spread of COVID-19, that’s very understandable.

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