77 workers at Oregon seafood plant test positive for virus


WARRENTON, Ore. (AP) — Dozens of employees at seafood processing plant on the Oregon coast have tested positive for the coronavirus, Clatsop County officials said Thursday.

Pacific Seafood used a private lab earlier this week to test the Warrenton, Oregon, plant’s 159 night-shift workers, and 77 tested positive, The Astorian reported.

The Oregon Health Authority is taking the lead in arranging for quarantine of the affected individuals, and conducting contact tracing, the county said in a statement. The agency was also testing other employees, officials said.

John King, general manager at Pacific Seafood Warrenton, said Thursday the company is partnering with the state to respond to the cases that have been tied to “Labor Day social activities.”

“Pacific Seafood is thankful for the continued support and partnership of OHA (Oregon Health Authority) and other local and state health agencies as we tackle this evolving global health crisis together to keep our workers and communities safe and healthy,” King said.

In May, an outbreak at Pacific Seafood in Warrenton was linked to 15 COVID-19 cases.

Another worker at Pacific Seafood tested positive in late June, leading to a clash between the county and the seafood processor over whether other workers should quarantine or continue working. The Oregon Health Authority then took over some response measures.

The Clackamas, Oregon-based company had one of the largest workplace outbreaks in the state in June with 187 cases tied to its Newport plants.

An outbreak at the company’s Clackamas operation in July and August was tied to 14 cases, according to Oregon officials, while an outbreak in Coos County was linked to six cases.

County Commissioner Mark Kujala, who represents Warrenton, called the outbreak “shocking” and said county officials and hospitals officials were meeting Thursday to solidify plans for a potential surge in hospitalizations.

Food processing plants have seen large coronavirus outbreaks within the Pacific Northwest and throughout the United States.