Eighty-six workers aboard American Seafoods’ trawler test positive for COVID-19

Published on
June 1, 2020

Eighty-six workers for American Seafoods have tested positive for COVID-19 after an outbreak onboard the company’s American Dynasty trawler.

The company announced over the weekend that one crew member had tested positive for the virus, prompting testing of all 124 employees onboard the vessel. American Seafoods spokesperson Suzanne Lagoni told SeafoodSource that nine tests were still pending as of Monday morning.

Lagoni confirmed the ship had left Seattle on 13 May to fish Pacific whiting, also known as hake, off the West Coast. It sailed for 15 days before docking in Bellingham, Washington, on Thursday, 28 May, to offload. While at the dock in Bellingham, a crew member reported with symptoms to an onboard medic who had been hired as part of the company’s COVID-19 preparedness plan.

“It’s important to emphasize that American Seafoods has taken the COVID situation very, very seriously. We had protocols in place and were certainly able to help this individual right away, and we’ll continue to take this situation very seriously,” Lagoni told SeafoodSource.

The crew member is hospitalized in Bellingham, where Lagoni said they are recovering.

The American Dynasty sailed back to the Port of Seattle over the weekend and American Seafoods worked with the King County Health Department to move the rest of the infected employees to a quarantine facility in the area, Lagoni said.

“American Seafoods is cooperating with the U.S. Coast Guard, the CDC, the Seattle/King County Health Department, Whatcom County Health Department, and the Port of Seattle,” American Seafoods CEO Mikel Durham said in a release issued 31 May. “The crew has access to any required medical care, and we are thrilled with the support that the agencies we are working with have provided. We have also put in place preparedness procedures in the event of a virus outbreak. Those plans are being fully executed right now.”

While Lagoni conceded that the outbreak is “nothing any company wants to see”, she said American Seafoods’ COVID-19 plan was complete.

“We had a very extensive protocol in place before this came up. At this point, I don’t know if there’s anything more I can say about that. Certainly we’ll be looking at the all the processes and procedures, but it was a very comprehensive plan that was in place before this came up,” Lagoni said.

According to a company press release, American Seafoods worked with the University of Washington to test all employees for anti-bodies and viral infection prior to the season. 

Based in Seattle, Washington, and Dutch Harbor, Alaska, American Seafoods runs a fleet of six vessels that fish the Bering Sea and the North Pacific Ocean for pollock, cod, and yellowfin sole along with Pacific whiting. Lagoni said the company currently has no reported cases of COVID-19 on any other vessels.  

Photo courtesy of Flickr user Brewbooks

Contributing Editor reporting from Seattle, USA

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