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OSHA proposes $9,400 fine against Lakeview pharmacy for alleged COVID-19 violations

Howard's Pharmacy in Lakeview potentially faces a fine of $9,400 from Oregon's occupational health and safety agency after inspectors reportedly found 'willful' violations of COVID-19 restrictions.

Posted: Sep 16, 2020 1:18 PM
Updated: Sep 16, 2020 1:25 PM

LAKEVIEW, Ore. — The only stand-alone pharmacy in the south-central Oregon town of Lakeview faces a proposed fine of $9,400 for alleged violations of the state's coronavirus restrictions — namely, face covering and social distancing requirements.

Oregon OSHA said that inspectors observed both customer and worker interactions inside and outside of Howard's Pharmacy, with the store "refusing to provide health hazard control measures" to protect about nine employees from COVID-19 exposure.

"The control measures that could have been provided – but were not – included implementing physical distancing and ensuring employees and customers wear face coverings," OSHA said.

OSHA said that it tried to work with Howard's for a week, but eventually posted a Red Warning Notice because the owners refused to comply. The agency's Red Warning Notices are supposed to act as a mandated closure of the business until willful violations have ended.

At that point, OSHA said that Howard's went to curbside pickup for their customers, but still without face coverings when social distancing couldn't be maintained.

Now OSHA says that it is proposing a total fine of $9,400 for Howard's — $8,900 for the "willful violation" of health hazard controls, and $500 for continuing to operate after the Red Warning Notice.

Supporters of Howard's Pharmacy posted a GoFundMe after it received the Red Warning Notice and went curbside, looking to help the owners pay fines and legal fees while fighting OSHA's orders.

A statement on the GoFundMe, ostensibly from the owners of Howard's, claims that the pharmacy's unwillingness to follow the state mandates stems from their interpretation of Oregon Health Authority's guidance.

"It specifically states that those who cannot wear any of the required coverings can request an accommodation that enables 'full and equal access' to the 'services' and 'facilities,'" Howard's wrote. "There is only one way to be compliant with this: there can be no difference in access between those who cannot wear a mask and those who can. Any variation would no longer be 'full and equal' but rather 'partial and unequal.'"

The standing interpretation from state officials on this mandate has been that customers who cannot or will not wear a face covering or observe social distancing be provided with curbside pickup, which Howard's adopted for all customers after receiving the Red Warning Notice.

The latest update from Howard's, posted to the GoFundMe on September 12, indicated that they had received the formal citation from OSHA, and had engaged an attorney to help appeal the decision.

Lake County featured on Oregon's COVID-19 county "watch list" for just over a month, beginning in early July, after a rise in community spread cases. It was removed in August, and has seen only 29 confirmed cases in total — with no new cases since August began.

Howard's is far from the only business to receive a hefty fine for alleged COVID-19 violations. OSHA listed at least 19 other businesses cited since March, with fines ranging from $8,900 to $14,000. Among them were Masterbrand Cabinets in Grants Pass, and Central Point agricultural operations Kelli Bieber and Gold Standard Investment Group LLC.

Oregon Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Confirmed Cases: 32994

Reported Deaths: 547
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Multnomah7204138
Marion469594
Washington454060
Umatilla298741
Clackamas242061
Malheur163327
Lane123417
Jackson11615
Deschutes85212
Yamhill76213
Jefferson5418
Polk53215
Linn52213
Morrow5056
Lincoln48213
Union4462
Benton3146
Wasco2963
Klamath2802
Hood River2520
Douglas2334
Clatsop2170
Josephine1982
Columbia1791
Coos1570
Baker942
Crook621
Tillamook530
Lake330
Curry310
Wallowa311
Sherman180
Harney120
Grant100
Gilliam80
Unassigned00
Wheeler00

California Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Confirmed Cases: 812711

Reported Deaths: 15633
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Los Angeles2684556515
Riverside589321206
San Bernardino54482925
Orange534481216
San Diego46734776
Kern31994369
Fresno28441382
Sacramento22356406
Santa Clara21241314
Alameda21240406
San Joaquin20245441
Contra Costa16640206
Stanislaus16471356
Tulare15970263
Ventura12775150
Imperial11852317
San Francisco11195101
Monterey995372
San Mateo9897150
Santa Barbara9090113
Merced8872142
Kings765180
Sonoma7412122
Marin6730118
Solano640065
Madera453965
Placer358745
San Luis Obispo356229
Butte283344
Yolo281555
Santa Cruz23609
Sutter170511
Napa169013
San Benito134811
Yuba11537
El Dorado11304
Mendocino93418
Shasta88317
Lassen7400
Glenn5783
Tehama5735
Lake55511
Nevada5377
Colusa5316
Humboldt5088
Calaveras31714
Amador29616
Tuolumne2274
Inyo18815
Mono1662
Siskiyou1650
Del Norte1391
Mariposa752
Plumas500
Modoc270
Trinity160
Sierra60
Alpine20
Unassigned00
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