Utah News Outlets Threaten Lawsuit Over Denied Covid-19 Public Records Request

By Stephanie Tsoflias Siegel 

A handful of news outlets in Salt Lake City, including TV stations Fox 13 and KUTV, are threatening to sue the county after a series of public records requests were denied. 

According to a letter from the attorney representing the media, the stations are trying to obtain the names of two businesses accused of letting employees work while battling or showing signs of the Covid-19 virus.

“The two involved businesses may not have storefronts or retail operations, but they likely have salespeople, purchase supplies, receive/make deliveries, put their products in the stream of commerce, utilize repair/maintenance services, have business visitors, share space and common building/parking areas with others, and interact for business reasons with others. The employees of these businesses dine, shop, go home, go to church, visit with family and friends, get their hair cut and interact with others in countless other ways. The actions of these businesses have put hundreds of persons at risk at a time when we are all called upon to protect ourselves and others from this highly contagious disease,” said attorney Michael O’Brien.

O’Brien says revealing the names will help keep the public safe.

The government says business names do not need to be revealed in public health records, as opposed to restaurants, which are typically named in health reports. 

The letter claims at least 68 people contracted the virus from workers at the establishments.