Santa Monica Apple Store employee tests positive for COVID-19

By Mike Peterson

An employee at an Apple Store in Santa Monica, Calif., has tested positive for COVID-19, Apple confirmed on Friday, though the company has taken steps to ensure customer safety.

The Third St. Promenade Apple Store in Santa Monica, Calif.

The Apple Store staffer tested positive for COVID-19 late Thursday while on leave from the Third Street Promenade store in Santa Monica. The unnamed employee took leave on March 2 to care for a relative and hasn't returned to the store since. It is unclear when or how the worker contracted the new coronavirus.

Three Apple staff members at its Irish headquarters contracted the disease earlier this month.

In a statement to TechCrunch, Apple said it consulted with health experts and deep cleaned the Santa Monica store after receiving word of the diagnosis. As of Friday, Apple Third Street Promenade remains open with normal hours.

Apple has taken measures to help prevent the spread of the COVID-19 virus, known as SARS-CoV-2, at its retail and corporate locations. That includes deep cleaning produces, minimizing physical contact with customers, "pausing" Today at Apple sessions and, in hotspots, store closures.

The company this week shuttered all retail locations in Italy, while reopening its fleet of 42 branded stores in China, albeit with reduced hours. Currently, all U.S. Apple Store locations remain open to the public.

Apple has reportedly extended available sick time to all employees and is also advising office workers in certain locations to work from home if possible.

Los Angeles County declared a local public emergency on March 4, and the City of Santa Monica also cancelled all large public gatherings. There were 40 confirmed COVID-19 cases in LA county as of March 13, the Los Angeles Times reported.