Nike's Largest Warehouse Closes After Employee Tests Positive for Coronavirus

Nike reportedly closed its largest warehouse on Thursday after an employee tested positive for the coronavirus. The company was keeping its warehouses open, even though stores have been closed since March 16 due to the coronavirus pandemic. Nike said it was hoping to have the facility open by Sunday after disinfecting the Memphis, Tennessee warehouse.

Multiple workers told MLK50 the massive Nike North American Logistic Campus was still operating, even though retail stores have been closed for three weeks. They were using hand sanitizers, masks and gloves, and were told to practice social distancing as much as possible. However, on Thursday afternoon, a manager called in employees and temp workers for a meeting.

The manager "called everyone that was there to the middle of the floor and said they would be closing down immediately because someone had tested positive for COVID-19," a witness said. The manager told employees they would be paid during the time off and shared a hotline number for more information. The temp workers were told to contact their superiors at a temporary agency.

"All shifts are canceled until further notice," the company said in a text message to employees Thursday afternoon. "We will send notification when it is time to return for work."

Nike later sent a statement to MLK50, confirming the warehouse was closed. "The health and safety of our team is always our first priority," the statement reads. "We have temporarily closed one of our Memphis, TN, distribution facilities. During this period, we will be conducting a comprehensive disinfection process. We are targeting to reopen at 6 a.m. Sunday, April 5."

The facility covers 2.8 million square feet and is located in Memphis' Frayser community. It opened in 2015 and is the largest Nike distribution center in the world. Last year, 3,200 full-time employees worked there.

Nike closed its stores on March 16 and initially planned to open them 11 days later. However, as the coronavirus has continued to spread in the U.S., Nike announced on March 26 that the stores will "remain temporarily closed" until further notice.

The company has also made some moves to help during the coronavirus pandemic, with several donations through the Nike Foundation. In Memphis, the company donated $250,000 to the Mid-South Food Bank and $250,000 to the Community Foundation of Greater Memphis' COVID-19 Regional Response Fund. Other donations have gone to the Oregon Community Recovery Fund and the Boston Foundation's COVID-19 Response Fund.

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On Sunday, the number of coronavirus cases in Tennessee jumped to 3,633, the Tennessee Department of Health reported. The death toll stands at 44, while 295 people have recovered.

Photo credit: Stephane Cardinale - Corbis/Corbis via Getty Images