One California city is grappling with COVID-19 outbreaks at nine of its industrial facilities, including one food processing plant that reported having at least 153 positive cases, according to health officials.
The Los Angeles County Department of Public Health said the largest outbreak occurred at the Farmer John meatpacking plant in Vernon, California, which is owned by Smithfield Foods and produces Dodger Dogs, among other products.
Health officials said 153 employees of 1,837 who work at that facility tested positive for COVID-19 when testing was conducted between March through May, and of those 153 employees, 41 returned to work.
The other Vernon facilities with reported outbreaks include Cal Farms Meat Company, CLW (meat), F. Gavina & Sons Inc. (coffee), Golden West Trading (meat and other products), Overhill Farms (frozen food), Rose & Shore (deli meat and prepared foods), Takaokaya USA (tea, seaweed and other products) and Vie De France Yamazaki (baked goods).
Smithfield Foods, which owns Farmer John, is the largest pork supplier in the United States and employs 40,000 people across the country.
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The company said it offers free COVID-19 testing to all of its employees, according to its website, where it also lists a series of measures it has taken to help contain the spread of COVID-19 at its facilities. These measures, according to the company, include increased social distancing, plexiglass barriers and temperature scanning.
COVID-19 has dramatically impacted the food industry in the United States. Dozens of food processing plants across the country have had to shut down for days or even weeks to slow or stop the spread of the virus since March.
Nearly 5,000 meat-packing workers at 115 facilities in 19 states have been infected with COVID-19, according to the Centers for Disease Control.