PORTLAND, Ore. – State and county agencies are looking into a coronavirus outbreak at Townsend Farms sites in Multnomah and Washington counties.
Oregon Health Authority said the outbreak affected 48 out of 350 people who arrived to the metro area on May 23 and 24 to harvest fruit in Fairview and Cornelius.
Officials said they are believed to have been exposed to the virus prior to coming to Oregon.
Some test results are still pending.
The company worked with health officials to arrange testing for the workers shortly after their arrival.
“People employed in agriculture are essential workers. They are also a vital part of our community,” said Patrick Allen, OHA director. “The agricultural work environment can put them at higher risk of infection from a communicable disease like COVID-19, and we need to do everything we can to reduce that risk. State and local public health officials are committed to working with the agriculture industry to reduce the risk of infection for workers.”
The following measures have been put in place:
- Providing separate housing so people exposed to COVID-19, and those who are sick, can quarantine and isolate themselves while they are ill (the company reports that employees are sheltering in place and not going out in public).
- Ensuring food is brought onto the properties for the workers during this period.
- Emphasizing infection control through hand hygiene, physical distancing, face coverings and use of PPE.
- Protecting drivers who bring workers to and from worksites with PPE.
- Ensuring proper housing so symptomatic workers can be separated from worksites.
- Providing education and outreach, through the counties and their community partners, directly to farmworkers to inform them about how to protect themselves from COVID-19 infection.
This outbreak is different from an outbreak at the same company that began in late April.
“This outbreak shows how we all need to continue to work together—individuals, businesses, local and state public health—to keep this virus from spreading to the most vulnerable and protect the health of everyone in Oregon,” Allen said.