Coronavirus outbreaks hits Farmer John, eight different crops in Vernon

The Los Angeles County Division of Public Well being has recognized COVID-19 outbreaks at 9 industrial services in Vernon, together with 5 meatpacking crops.

The biggest outbreak occurred on the Smithfield Meals-owned Farmer John plant — producer of the beloved Dodger Canine — the place 153 of 1,837 workers examined optimistic for COVID-19 between March and Could, the county stated Sunday.

The opposite eight services with outbreaks are CLW Meals (meat), Vie De France Yamazaki (baked items), Cal Farms Meat (meat), Takaokaya USA (inexperienced tea and different merchandise), F. Gavina & Sons (espresso), Golden West Buying and selling (meat), Overhill Farms (frozen meals), and Rose and Shore (deli meat and ready meals).

Fewer than 25 workers examined optimistic at every of these services. By L.A. County requirements, an “outbreak” has occurred when 5 or extra employees have contracted the virus.

Although Vernon has only a few dozen residents and is sort of completely industrial, employees who’ve contracted the virus within the metropolis simply south of Los Angeles may unfold it in their very own communities, the county warned.

“We’re carefully monitoring outbreaks inside services within the metropolis of Vernon, as most of the workers reside in adjoining southeast Los Angeles communities,” stated Barbara Ferrer, the county well being director.

“Our public well being specialists are ensuring workers with the virus, and their households, stay quarantined to reduce publicity to others,” stated L.A. County Supervisor Hilda L. Solis.

In an announcement, Smithfield Meals stated its employees are “essential to our nation’s response to COVID-19.”

“We thank them for preserving meals on America’s tables and have carried out aggressive measures to guard their well being and security throughout this pandemic,” the assertion stated.

Smithfield stated the measures embody a sequence of strict pointers and protocols that observe or exceed steerage issued by the Facilities for Illness Management and Prevention and the Occupational Security and Well being Administration. The corporate stated it has boosted its provide of masks and face shields, put in Plexiglas boundaries on the manufacturing flooring and in break areas and carried out mass temperature scanning techniques to display screen employees.

Staff are supplied free testing for the novel coronavirus and paid quarantine time, and are informed to not report back to work if they’re sick, Smithfield stated; the corporate has additionally relaxed its attendance insurance policies, eradicated co-pays for coronavirus-related therapy and prolonged a paid depart profit to workers deemed medically at-risk.

Of the 153 Farmer John workers who examined optimistic, 41 have returned to work, based on L.A. County well being officers.

“Throughout this pandemic, our total trade is confronted with an unattainable selection: proceed to function to maintain our nation’s meals provide or shutter in an try to completely insulate our workers from threat,” the corporate stated in an announcement issued in early Could. “It’s an terrible selection; it’s not one we want on anybody. It’s unattainable to maintain protein on tables throughout America if our nation’s meat crops should not working.”

The outbreak at Smithfield’s Vernon plant is the largest listed by the county’s Public Well being Division in a nonresidential setting.

Coronavirus outbreaks have plagued meatpacking crops nationwide since March, when a lot of the nation went into lockdown. Greater than 10,000 COVID-19 circumstances have been linked to U.S. meatpacking crops, and not less than three dozen employees are recognized to have died as of early Could, based on an evaluation by the nonprofit information group ProPublica.