A positive COVID-19 test has been reported from a new hire at the Pacific Seafood processing plant in Warrenton, Oregon.
The Oregon Health Authority plans to employ contact tracing and other measures in what Clatsop County leaders described as a “joint decision.” The Daily Astorian reported that there had been “several days of tensions” between the county, the health authority, and Pacific over how to deal with the case.
“We had some real disagreements about exactly what the quarantine means,” County Commissioner Mark Kujala told the newspaper. "We certainly don't want to stop people from working and we care about our businesses here in Warrenton, but we simply wanted to get this contact tracing and investigation completed and feel confident that everything that we're getting provided from the company is verified before going back as business as usual.”
The man, from Moldova, is in his 40s and came to Warrenton at the end of last month to work for Pacific under the H-2B federal visa program. The man had worked one orientation shift at the plant before receiving a positive test on 29 June.
According to Pacific Seafood Communications Manager Lacy Ogan, the man, who remained asymptomatic, was immediately quarantined “per [the company’s] COVID-19 response plan,” and was cleared to return to work by the Oregon Health Authority on 7 July.
“The Oregon Health Authority is concerned about the health and well-being of workers at Pacific Seafood in Warrenton who may have been exposed to COVID-19,” Oregon Health Authority spokesman Jonathan Modie told The Daily Astorian. “OHA’s role in the investigation of the Pacific Seafood outbreak is a supportive one, and involves providing additional staff resources to help the county in the investigation and contact tracing process.”
“There is no active outbreak in Warrenton and we are operating and running normally,” Ogan wrote in an email to SeafoodSource. “We continue to actively partner with state and local health officials to ensure the ongoing safety of our workers and the community.”
In May, a coronavirus outbreak at Pacific’s plant in Warrenton resulted in at least 15 coronavirus cases, including 11 workers, and in June, 132 of its workers in Newport, Oregon, contracted COVID-19, resulting in the shutdown of its five processing facilities there.
Photo courtesy of Pacific Seafood