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Uproar at South Carolina newspaper after employee tests positive for COVID-19 after required return to work

Uproar at South Carolina newspaper after employee tests positive for COVID-19 after required return to work
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Employees at South Carolina's largest daily news publication are reportedly furious after a colleague tested positive for COVID-19 following owners' decision to require employees to return to work.

The Daily Beast reported Wednesday that journalists at the South Carolina Post and Courier are blaming management for ignoring workers' concerns, and for firing one engagement editor who allowed an article critical of the return to work to be published on a social media account belonging to the newspaper.

Now, one unidentified staffer has reportedly tested positive after returning to the Post and Courier's offices following the decision going into effect on June 1.

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Staffers are "disgusted, distraught, angry," one journalist told The Daily Beast.

“People are terrified,” another staffer added in a previous interview over the decision, before the new case was reported. “They’re asking us to risk our health and maybe our lives and they won’t even tell us why. It just seems cruel.”

The newspaper's executive editor Mitch Pugh previously defended his company's decision in a statement to The Daily Beast before the positive COVID-19 case was confirmed.

“Like many essential workplaces, including other news organizations, we have had personnel working in the building throughout this period,” Pugh said in May. “We believe it is now reasonable for other employees to return to work. We will continue to monitor federal, state and local regulations and SC DHEC data moving forward to inform future decision-making and continue to take suggestions from our employees. Our company, which has not instituted COVID-related furloughs or layoffs, remains committed to serving our community as a designated essential workplace.”

South Carolina reported its highest daily total of new coronavirus cases earlier this week, and has yet to show signs that its overall rate of new cases is declining. The state has nearly 19,000 confirmed cases after 617 new cases were confirmed on Tuesday.