This is probably the worst news you could receive on a Monday. Several Chipotle restaurants closed due to a possible E. coli outbreak after several customers were diagnosed with the illness in Washington and Oregon (although no specific connection has been drawn between Chipotle and E.coli). For many of us, the beloved Mexican fast-casual chain is the only reassuring constant in a cruel world perpetually in flux, so any news of shuttered Chipotle locations is going to be pretty devastating. However, before you panic, there are optimistic notes to this heartbreaking story. According to a spokesperson for Chipotle, the chain is only closing "out of an abundance of caution," which means there's no proof that the E. coli cases were definitely linked to our modern haven.
Last Friday, countless people in Washington and Oregon who were looking forward to a steak burrito or some barbacoa soft tacos pressed their faces up to the closed doors of their local Chipotle in disappointment. (We've all been there, amiright?) That's because 43 locations in the two states closed after three cases of E. coli in Oregon and 19 in Washington were reported, according to a spokesperson for Oregon Health Authority. Seventeen of the 19 people who became ill in Washington had eaten at Chipotle.
In response to the incidents, the chain did not take any chances and decided to voluntarily close a number of their locations in the two states. The company also issued the following statement:
The safety and wellbeing of our customers is always our highest priority. After being notified by health department officials in the Seattle and Portland, Ore. areas that they were investigating approximately 20 cases of E. coli, including people who ate at six of our restaurants in those areas, we immediately closed all of our restaurants in the area out of an abundance of caution, even though the vast majority of these restaurants have no reported problems. We are working with health department officials to determine the cause of this issue. We offer our deepest sympathies to those who have been affected by this situation.
The Oregon Health Authority advises anyone in Washington or Oregon who's eaten at Chipotle in the last 10 days to contact a doctor if they experience any symptoms of a Shiga toxin E. coli (STEC) infection. These symptoms include stomach aches, nausea, vomiting, and bloody stools.
It's important to note that Chipotle was not required to close its restaurants by law; it chose to do so out of caution for its customers. Is this a major international dining chain or an international network of angels? It's hard to tell sometimes. Before you know it, the whole thing will likely blow over and the affected Chipotle locations will open its doors once again.
For now, as health officials continue to investigate the E. coli cases in Oregon and Washington, residents will have to close their eyes as they bite down on a homemade taco and pretend like it's a Chipotle soft flour taco. As for those who live elsewhere, let this be a reminder to never take your Chipotle for granted. Spend the extra $2 for guac and pile it on with abandon! In fact, get $4 worth of guac. Live your life as if your local Chipotle could close down at any minute.