Cases of COVID-19 have occurred in produce companies in the US and in Canada. Divine Flavor, who are located in Nogales, Arizona, experienced its first positive cases in the first week of May and has responded quickly to contain the spread. The company has been on a mission to be an example for how to respond.
The company decided to be proactive and send all employees, including management, to health clinics in Nogales and Tucson to be tested - paid in full by the company. As another precautionary measure, employees who worked closely with those who tested positive in the repack facility, were asked self-quarantine, even if they tested negative for the disease.
Photo by Divine Flavor.
Speaking with General Manager of Divine Flavor, Jose Antonio Martinez, he mentions why it was necessary to take such quick actions. “As a company, our employees are always the number one priority,” said Martinez. “Because we took swift action with all of our employees, this allowed us to verify no other departments were affected by this situation.”
The Oppenheimer Group has also confirmed three positive, though mild, cases of COVID-19, in its Vancouver, BC warehouse facility, and is cooperating with Fraser Health Authority to safely move forward. Two of the individuals are members of the same family and occasionally carpool to work with the third. Following the first positive test, all employees who had worked in proximity with the ill individual departed from the facility immediately. Some were tested for COVID-19 based on medical advice. They all continue to isolate at home.
Both Divine Flavor and Oppy have acted swiftly to prevent further spread of the virus, implementing further protocols required if a positive COVID-19 case is identified at a workplace. These build on exposure control best practices that have been in place for the last eight weeks, which include strict social distancing, rotating and segregating teams, use of personal protective personal equipment, strict sanitization and hygiene protocols, and prohibition of visitors.
Temperature testing at Divine Flavor.
“Starting at the very beginning of this pandemic, our company has implemented very stringent measures all designed to protect our workers the best ways possible,” said Sergio Cienfuegos, Divine Flavor’s warehouse manager. “Our staff feel we have one of the safest work establishments in Nogales because everyone in the company has been tested and the company acts quickly.”
Oppy’s Doug Grant, executive vice president and chief operating officer said: “We’re carefully following guidance from health authorities and will continue to do so. We are fortunate that all three of our colleagues are experiencing mild symptoms while recovering in isolation. As always, our priority remains on ensuring the health and safety of our team.”
Martinez of Divine Flavor concludes: “Because we were one of the first produce companies in Nogales to have experienced this, we want to be a positive example for other companies so they can learn from how we responded to the situation. If our other produce colleagues encounter similar circumstances, we want them to know our guidance and phone lines are always open for them.”
At Monterey Mushrooms in Loudon County, Tennessee, 57 employees have tested positive for COVID-19. County Mayor Buddy Bradshaw said in a Facebook post that the overwhelming majority of those who tested positive were asymptomatic, and that the company is going above and beyond to prevent further spread of the virus.