STANISLAUS COUNTY, Calif. — Through the COVID-19 pandemic, warehouse-style operations have come into question in regards to worker safety. In Stanislaus and Fresno counties, Foster Farms said it's trying to answer questions about efforts to protect employees while continuing their essential work.
Thursday the company shared a press released penned by Ira Brill, vice president of communications. In it, Brill writes that their efforts to test continue to be successful, and shared the results in each county (see below).
Overall, the company said it's seeing a prevalence level of 1%, with two deaths in the last six months related to COVID-19.
It says anyone who tests positive will be asked to self-isolate and will get medical benefits while doing so.
Stanislaus County testing results:
The Foster Farms company has two turkey processing plants and "associated facilities" in Turlock. In recent years ABC10 has covered stories there with ABC10 Reporter Lena Howland.
Brill said the company did two rounds of COVID-19 testing this month, between Sept. 3 and 11.
During that time 2,134 tests were done at the turkey processing plants and found less than 1% of of the facilities' 1,199 employees with the virus.
The percentage is higher, though, at the Turkey Distribution Center in Turlock, Brill said in the release, partly because of the number of employees.
"...with 30 employees, recorded a single positive," Brill wrote. "Therefore a slightly higher rate of 3.33%."
Much like the rest of the United States, a jump in cases was seen after Memorial Day and July 4 in both the Stanislaus and Fresno County facilities, Brill said. Overall though, in the last six months of the pandemic, only 75 COVID-19 cases have been reported and 43 of those employees are already back to work, Brill said.
Fresno County testing results:
The company has two chicken processing plants in Fresno County. At these facilities, Brill said the company did two rounds of COVID-19 testing this month, between Sept. 1 and 10.
Of the 4,180 tests done, they found an overall COVID-19 prevalence level of less than 1% of the total 2,612 workers.
Fresno facilities have reported 158 COVID-19 positive cases since the pandemic began, with 75 individuals having already returned to work. Two of the 158 employees who tested positive died of complications related to the virus.
Processing plants in other counties
Last month the Merced County Health Department ordered Foster Farms to close its facility in Merced County after a COVID-19 outbreak.
In this week's press release Ira Brill, the vice president of communications, made no mention of the company's facility there.
In this CalMatters article by Manuela Tobias, the outbreak in the Livingston, Calif. plant is called "the largest and most severe COVID-19 outbreak in Merced County," with Tobias citing the information to the county's health department.
Foster Farms efforts to fight the virus
The press release this week, Foster Farms said it is doing the following to keep workers safe, while also keeping their essential work going. Some of those measures are listed below:
- Requiring face coverings and supplying face masks to employees who do not have them
- Rigorous sanitation and personal hygiene measures
- Temperature-based wellness checks and monitoring of employees for symptoms of COVID-19.
- Added more break area space and installed dividers in break rooms and workspace areas where social distancing is not practical
- Added handwashing and sanitizer stations throughout facilities
- In the case of a confirmed COVID-19 positive employee, Foster Farms will immediately advise those employees who have had close contact with the diagnosed individual
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