Foster Farms will shut down its facility on Cherry Street in Fresno following a coronavirus outbreak, according to company officials.
Over the past two weeks, 193 workers at the 1,400-person facility in southwest Fresno tested positive for COVID-19, according to Ira Brill, vice president of communications for Foster Farms. None of the employees exhibited any symptoms, Brill told The Fresno Bee.
The company advised all workers who tested positive and their close contacts to isolate and said they would receive “all appropriate medical benefits,” according to a company news release. The poultry-processing plant will undergo “deep cleaning” over the weekend, the company said.
“Once reopened, Foster Farms will continue testing the entire Cherry Street workforce twice per week. The Fresno Department of Public Health has been advised of these measures and is fully supportive of the company’s effort,” Brill wrote.
The outbreak in Fresno follows another Foster Farms outbreak in Livingston, where seven workers were identified as COVID-19 positive. The Livingston plant in Merced County was previously ordered to shut down late this summer, during one of the deadliest outbreaks in the state, according to Merced County public health officials.
The outbreak resulted in 92 Foster Farms employees testing positive for COVID-19, nine of whom died.
According to the company, the prevalence of COVID-19 at the Fresno Cherry Street facility remained under 1% through the end of October “but began ramping up in early November concurrent with the acceleration of cases throughout Fresno County.” The prevalence remains under 1% at the other Fresno Foster Farms plant on Belgravia Avenue, Brill said.
Since the pandemic’s initial outbreak earlier this year, at least two Fresno Foster Farms employees have died from coronavirus-related complications, the company has said previously.
* Manuela Tobias is a reporter with The Fresno Bee. This article is part of The California Divide, a collaboration among newsrooms examining income inequity and economic survival in California.
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