CHICAGO (CBS) — The family of an El Milagro tortilla plant employee who is batting COVID-19 said doctors told them to prepare for the worst.
As CBS 2’s Charlie De Mar reported Tuesday night, the family also says the company should have been prepared to protect its employees.
“It’s heartbreaking not having our father here,” said Nancy Sandoval.
Her father, Ricardo, has been in the intensive care unit at the University of Illinois at Chicago Medical Center for about a month fighting COVID-19.
Doctors have given Nancy Sandoval a grim reality.
“To prepare for the worst, because he’s not doing good,” she said.
For decades, Ricardo has worked various jobs at El Milagro, most recently as a cashier.
“Honestly, they are careless. They don’t care about their employees,” Nancy Sandoval said. “They weren’t protected. We asked every day – ‘Did they give you masks?’ And he said no. ‘Did they give gloves?’ No.”
In a letter to employees, the company announced the death of a sanitation worker at the plant at 2919 S. Western Ave.
But employees told the CBS 2 Investigators they know of at least four COVID-19 deaths at the plant, including 37-year-old Roberto Escobar.
Escobar was worried about his health, but continued working because he didn’t want to lose his job, CBS 2 Investigator Megan Hickey reported.
“We don’t wish this upon anybody, and we don’t want anybody in our situation,” Nancy Sandoval said, “but they need to take responsibility for what they did.”
The tortilla plant voluntarily closed for a two-week clean and quarantine, and won’t reopen until a construction project is complete
A list of changes to workplace safety will be made. But those improvements are coming too late for the Sandovals.
“We don’t want him to leave us,” Nancy Sandoval said. “We have faith. He keeps fighting and we have faith that he’s going to come back home.”
El Milagro said it has been following Centers for Disease Control and Prevention guidelines. There is no timetable on when the factory will reopen.