Health authorities have said there is a certain amount of leeway in what materials can be used for face coverings—but they have never suggested using doggie diapers or coffee filters, as workers at a McDonald's in Oakland, Calif. say they were told to. Four workers who were infected with COVID-19 have filed a public nuisance lawsuit against the franchise, saying management failed to create a safe working environment and told them to come to work even when they were sick, the San Francisco Chronicle reports. The diapers and coffee filters were "provided as a stopgap but were completely inadequate, and it's somewhat offensive that the company wouldn’t provide adequate masks," says Michael Rubin, the attorney representing the workers.
"Eventually they were given masks meant for one-time use, but they were told to use them day after day after day," Rubin says. "One worker who had symptoms complained of being sick and said she couldn’t breathe and was told by the manager to just pull the mask down, which means this woman was infecting other people," Rubin says. He says 25 coronavirus infections have been linked to the restaurant, including a worker's 10-month-old baby, who is also named as a plaintiff. Franchise owner Michael Smith denies the allegations and says he bought thousands of masks for employees. "We've worked tirelessly since March to enhance nearly 50 processes in our restaurants to put crew and customer safety and well-being as our highest priorities," he tells CBS San Francisco. (Read more McDonald's stories.)