Outside Business Journal

Patagonia Employee Allegedly Fabricates Coronavirus Exposure Story

The scare forced the shutdown of Patagonia's Reno operations for more than a day


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As coronavirus spreads across the globe and alarm builds, stranger news seems to break by the day. On Monday, a Patagonia employee in Reno, Nevada, reported to the company that his roommate had contracted COVID-19, resulting in the employee’s exposure and potential infection. In response to the claim, Patagonia immediately shut down its outlet store in Reno and its nearby call and distribution center.

When the Washoe County Health District investigated the claim, however, officials determined that the information was false and potentially the result of a willful fabrication. CEO Rose Marcario wrote in an email to employees, “We made a decision earlier today to close our operations in Reno until we had definitive results that our colleagues were not exposed to COVID-19. We did this because your health is our top priority. We found out late this evening that the information we received about one of our employees being potentially exposed was false.”

Corley Kenna, senior director of global communications and PR for Patagonia, wrote Tuesday morning that the company is “still gathering details on what happened” and preferred not to comment further.

As of Wednesday morning, all facilities have reopened. Furloughed workers, numbering in the hundreds, received pay during the shutdown.