U.S.: Washington frozen fruit processor reports 38 Covid-19 cases

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U.S.: Washington frozen fruit processor reports 38 Covid-19 cases

More than three-dozen employees at a U.S. food processing company in Washington state have tested positive for Covid-19, according to Oregon Live.

It appears to be the Portland area’s biggest workplace outbreak thus far, excluding the healthcare sector.

Josh Hinerfeld, CEO of Firestone Pacific Foods, said the company had its first confirmed case midday Sunday and learned of two more later that afternoon. The Vancouver plant shut down last Monday but the infection total has now grown to 38, including 26 new cases confirmed Friday, according to public health authorities.

Firestone employs 150 altogether, Hinerfeld said. He said he believes one of the infected employees has been hospitalized but is doing OK.

On Saturday morning, Hinerfeld said a nearby health care facility had shut down normal operations to make room to test Firestones’s remaining workforce, and to retest some of those who previously tested negative.

Food processing facilities have emerged as a major source of infection across the country, apparently because employees work indoors and are often in close proximity to one another. There have been at least two such workplace outbreaks in Oregon – in Astoria and Albany.

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Correction: The previous title of the article incorrectly stated that Firestone Pacific Foods is based in Canada.

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