At least 23 workers at a Kuna meat packing plant have tested positive for the coronavirus since March, health officials in the central district confirmed on Saturday.
An additional employee is also believed to have the virus, and two other contract employees associated with CS Beef Packers have tested positive, HRC spokeswoman Christine Myron told Idaho Statesman.
Three employees are still recovering at home. The majority of workers who tested positive have recovered, Myron told the statesman on Saturday. The number includes the total number of employees who tested positive since March 11, when the COVID-19 test began in Idaho. Some of the employees tested positive do not live in the central district health zone, which serves the counties of Ada, Boise, Elmore and Valley.
“Central District Health does not believe that all of the cases are linked to plant-based transmission, but that community transmission also played a role,” said Myron.
Two other food processors within Central District Health have reported clusters of employees. Central District Health did not identify the companies and said the cases were due to the spread of the community and to workers who brought the virus into the facility.
There are no ongoing clusters or concerns within these two facilities, said Myron.
In a written statement provided to statesman Steve Cherry, plant manager and team leader at CS Beef Packers, plant workers working nearby may have been exposed to the virus. All factory workers who have contracted the virus will stay at home until health officials and doctors confirm they are recovered, said Cherry. Employees will be compensated for their absence from work.
However, according to a briefing from the Food and Drug Administration, “there is no evidence that food or food packaging is involved in the transmission of the disease. It is not a foodborne illness and it is not known to be transmitted through food, “the statement said.
“Our factory operations will continue normally. We are particularly focused on improving cleaning and sanitation programs in all areas of the plant, “Cherry said in the statement. “We strive to ensure that all of our team members have every possible guarantee to protect their health so that we can continue to provide real, safe, quality beef products to our customers and the supply chain for keep feeding America! ”
Cherry said all factory workers have been given masks, face shields and outdoor seating to allow for social distancing during breaks. The plant also performs temperature and health tests on all employees who report to work.
According to the Associated Press, thousands of workers in meat packing plants and food processors across the country have contracted a coronavirus. A CDC report identified more than 30 deaths of workers associated with these factories, but noted that several states had not provided data. President Donald Trump last week ordered the country’s meat factories to remain open to protect the country’s food supply.
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