Oregon pear producers Duckwall Fruit have announced that they encountered four positive cases of COVID-19 among their employees. Company president Ed Weathers has released the following letter in response:
"At Duckwall Fruit, our first priority has always been the health and safety of our employees, and in the case of a communicable disease, also the health and safety of their families.
Of Duckwall Fruit's 331 employees, the local health department has identified four employees who have tested positive for the COVID-19 virus. The positive results were known on May 25, 26, 28 and 29. We are devastated to hear this news and we have been in contact with these employees, offering help with any personal or medical needs to make sure they and their families are taken care.
These four employees last worked for us on Thursday, May 21, 2020 and are quarantined by the health department to their homes; with no known hospitalizations. There are 20 employees deemed as close contacts and the local health departments are contacting these employees.
In addition to our current long-standing cleaning and sanitation program, Duckwall Fruit has initiated the following since February 26, 2020:
- Continued our nightly cleaning and sanitation procedures, with increased emphasis on high contact points
- Formed a COVID-19 Crisis Management Team; meeting daily to closely monitor the ever-changing COVID-19 environment
- Appointed a Social Distancing Monitoring Team
- Implemented the Families First Coronavirus Response Plan
- Closed our campus to all non-essential outside vendors
- Increased our sanitation protocol to include high traffic touch areas, such as handrails, doorknobs, etc. multiple times during each shift
- Added an additional touch point sanitizing position on all shift
- Implemented work from home in all areas where possible
- In an effort to minimize employee density we implemented established crews, who rotate one week on one week off
- Asked health questionnaires of all employees who call in or leave work sick
- Placed barriers between packers and sorters
- Provided face coverings to employees
- Reduced capacity in break/lunchrooms
Upon being notified of the positive cases by the Hood River and Wasco County Health departments, management put into place additional measures to safeguard the health and welfare of our team:
- Shift entry temperatures with a COVID-19 health questionnaire
- Hand sanitizing prior to entry into the facility
- Mandatory face coverings for all employees
And last night, May 28, 2020 we went above the Health Department's recommendation and shut down our facility for a third party deep clean and sanitation. We are working diligently and quickly to get all Duckwall Fruit employees tested for COVID-19."