PONTIAC, Mich. – Dozens of workers tested positive for coronavirus (COVID-19) at the United Shore headquarters in Pontiac this week.
The outbreak garnered a stern warning from county health officials and renewed focus on how large employers should adhere to safety precautions as they aim to bring employees back into the office.
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Earlier this week, 53 employees tested positive after having been in the United Shore building. The company is the nation’s largest wholesale mortgage seller and brought in $41.8 billion in loans last year, according to the trade publication, Inside Mortgage Finance.
In a letter to United, Oakland County Health Officer Leigh-Anne Stafford said her office received numerous complaints about the mortgage company, outlining it was in direct violation of state orders masks to be worn within the building.
The letter was sent to CEO Mat Ishbia, ordering him to build a better plan to encourage social distancing and working from home and requiring facemasks and screening. It also warned more violations could mean up to 6 months in prison or $200 per day, or both, if the changes weren’t made.
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In a response, Ishbia said the company is following all state guidelines.
But United Shore isn’t the only large company during the pandemic which has been named for poor COVID-19 safety. Delivery giant Amazon and automakers General Motors and Fiat-Chrysler each had their own COVID-19 scares earlier this year.
Larger companies face different challenges when it comes to coronavirus safety. More employees means more places for protocol to break down and more people needed to enforce compliance. United Shore, for instance, has more than 2,600 employees at their complex in Pontiac which stretches for more than 600,000 square feet.
Doctors and health officials said the challenges aren’t unlike those seen across the state and country when it comes to enforcing good coronavirus hygiene meaning the solutions are there, as long as employees can get behind them.
“Large companies are a good mirror of society as a whole,” Local 4′s Dr. Frank McGeorge said. “It’s impossible to police the behaviors of every individual. It comes down to personal responsibility, for all of us to stay safe, and for businesses and society to function, if everyone keeps their distance, wears a mask, and washes their hands we would all be that much safer.”
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