By Lisa Baertlein
LOS ANGELES (Reuters) – A United Parcel Service Inc worker employed in Kentucky died over the weekend from a COVID-19 infection, Gov. Andy Beshear said at a public health briefing on Monday.
UPS separately said that a “valued member of our management team” at its Worldport global shipping hub in Louisville, Kentucky, had died. UPS declined to give the man’s cause of death, citing medical privacy laws.
UPS employs roughly 20,000 workers in the Louisville area – mainly at Worldport, which is central to the U.S. government’s effort to rush in medical supplies for healthcare workers.
Worldport employees told Reuters and Louisville television station WDRB, which was first to confirm the Worldport death, that they believed the supervisor who died on Saturday had contracted COVID-19.
Employees, who declined to be named for fear of retribution, told Reuters that UPS is not disclosing how many of their co-workers have fallen ill after being exposed to the novel coronavirus that has killed more than 10,000 people in the United States.
Other large employers – including GE Appliance, Amazon and Ford Motor Co – have briefed workers on COVID-19 cases in their facilities without revealing the names of affected individuals.
Atlanta-based UPS last week said it is working with President Donald Trump’s Coronavirus Taskforce, the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) and state agencies to distribute test kits, protective equipment like N95 masks, and medical devices such as respirators.
FEMA is using UPS’s 5.2 million-square-foot Worldport facility for temporary staging of shipments from overseas as part of a public-private partnership that the Trump Administration has named Project Airbridge.
Worldport is UPS’ largest air hub – with more than 300 inbound and outbound flights daily. The hub processes roughly 2 million packages per day.
(Reporting by Lisa Baertlein in Los Angeles; Editing by Michael Perry)