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After UPS worker's death, colleagues demand more protection from COVID-19

UPS said they’re purchasing as much hand sanitizer as possible and supplying gloves to those who need it most.

LOUISVILLE, Ky. —

A UPS spokesperson confirms one of their workers in Louisville passed away, but they have not commented on how he died. Governor Beshear mentioned his death Monday evening during his daily presser on COVID-19. 

“I still haven’t processed it yet," said Tim Murphy, a longtime friend of the UPS worker who passed away over the weekend.

We’re not releasing that UPS worker's name, out of respect for his family. 

“We are aware of a UPS employee that has died. However they are an individual that resided in Clark County, Indiana, which is why they’re not on our list even though I believe they were in Kentucky," said Kentucky Governor Andy Beshear. We’ve been unable to confirm how that man died with his immediate family. 

Recalling his days with his friend on the football team, Murphy said the world lost a tremendous leader. “If I could use one word it would be sincere," said Murphy.

Colleagues said he worked at UPS for more than three decades, many describing him as the best boss they ever had. Jerry McGovern, who’s now retired after working at UPS for 31 years, said his death puts a spotlight on the need for heightened safety for employees. According to the company, 2 million packages are handled at its Worldport shipping hub in Louisville on a given day. 

“People are scared to hold UPS accountable," McGovern said. 

He told Focus investigative reporter Paula Vasan that he’s spoken with 15 people who work at UPS Worldport, the largest air-sorting hub in UPS’ network, who are scared about conditions amid COVID-19. We’ve received more than a dozen calls and emails into our newsroom over the past week, complaining of lack of protective gear, like gloves, and social distancing that’s not enforced, mainly within company shuttles that take employees to and from the airport to sort packages. 

One worker, who didn’t want to be named fearing risking her job, sent us a photo taken last Wednesday. She said it shows employees congregating, waiting for a shuttle to leave work. 

Credit: Anonymous
UPS workers standing in large group

“They’re putting 8-10 people in these vans," McGovern said.

“We’ve been taking steps for weeks now to protect our employees," said Jim Mayer, a UPS spokesperson. He told us they're adding shuttles to promote social distancing, cleaning shuttle and work areas more frequently, and -- as of Monday -- providing masks to follow CDC guidelines. McGovern still fears for his friends at work.  

“You know they’re not providing the gloves to the people that actually unload the plane they’re not providing the hand sanitizers," McGovern said.

UPS said they’re purchasing as much hand sanitizer as possible and supplying gloves to those who need it most, for a worker delivering packages to a nursing home for example. 

Employees told us they have been noticing gradual safety improvements. Masks started being distributed Monday evening. A UPS spokesperson said anyone who’s concerned for their safety should speak with a manager, saying health is a top priority. 

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►Contact reporter Paula Vasan at pvasan@whas11.com on Twitter, Facebook or Instagram

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