Pacific Seafood's processing plant in Warrenton, Oregon, U.S.A is facing its third mass outbreak of COVID-19 in the past year.
According to a weekly report from the Oregon Health Authority published 24 March, Pacific’s Warrenton facility has experienced eight active COVID-19 cases since 14 March, following an investigation that began 9 March.
OHA epidemiologists consider cases to be related and classified as part of a workplace outbreak until if and when a more likely alternative source for acquisition is identified. Case counts may include household members and other close contacts who contracted COVID-19 as a likely result of exposure to workers the named facility.
Pacific Seafood General Counsel Tony Dal Ponte did not immediately respond to SeafoodSource’s request for additional information. Brandie Hogg, the vice president of human resources for Pacific Seafood, issued a statement to The Astorian in response to the latest outbreak.
"It’s been concerning to see the rising cases of COVID-19 in our community and unfortunately eight of our workers were impacted," Hogg said. "Thankfully, five have already recovered and returned to work while others recuperate at home.
"We’re looking forward to our upcoming on-site vaccination clinic for all workers (and household members 18+) and to start being able to put the pandemic behind us. Pacific Seafood remains vigilant in all COVID-19 mitigation efforts and continues to operate in accordance with all CDC (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention) guidance."
In September 2020, nearly 100 of Pacific’s employees at its Warrenton facility tested positive for COVID-19, four months after after more than 130 employees tested positive for the coronavirus among at its five plants in the area.
There have been 99 deaths and 19,216 cases associated with all workplace outbreaks thus far in the state of Oregon.
“The presence of … food packing and agricultural worksites on this list highlights the challenges of controlling COVID-19 in settings where people must work or live in proximity,” OHA said in its report. “State and local public health officials work intensively with staff at workplaces where outbreaks are identified to isolate sick workers, test, and quarantine those who have been exposed and implement workplace changes to reduce risk of transmission. Unless otherwise noted, public health officials have determined that these workplaces, their workers, and their products do not pose significant risk to the public.
Photo courtesy of Pacific Seafood