Dozens of employees of a Morgan Hill seafood distribution company have tested positive for COVID-19 in recent days, according to Santa Clara County public health officials.
Thirty-eight employees of Lusamerica Foods have tested positive for the illness, county Public Health Officer Dr. Sara Cody told the Board of Supervisors’ Health and Hospital Committee this morning.
The local outbreak started at least two weeks earlier, officials said. A Lusamerica employee’s spouse had been hospitalized with COVID-19, Cody explained. The Lusamerica worker was subsequently tested for the disease; results came back positive.
The employee then informed management at Lusamerica Foods. “Their employer took responsibility for notifying contacts of that employee within the company, putting them on quarantine and ensuring they got tested,” Cody explained.
The employer worked with county staff to make sure every employee at Lusamerica’s Morgan Hill facility was tested for COVD-19. So far, 38 tests have come back positive. Cody said more testing is planned at the company on Wednesday.
Cody said health officials just learned of this “cluster” of COVID-19 cases when the initial test results of Lusamerica employees were reported to the county early this week.
Lusamerica COO Louise Moretti declined to answer questions about the coronavirus cases at the Morgan Hill facility. The company sent out a statement detailing the precautions Lusamerica is taking to prevent spreading the illness further.
“We recently experienced cases of COVID-19 at one of our facilities and have partnered with the County of Santa Clara to minimize any risk to our employees and the community,” the statement reads. “We are committed to providing a safe working environment for our entire team, while continuing to serve our customers with the high quality and service they have come to expect.”
Lusamerica’s statement added that county staff inspected its Morgan Hill facilities for sanitation and prevention measures, and received positive feedback.
The statement added that all employees who have tested positive are staying at home, though the majority are not showing symptoms.
All employees who tested negative will be reassessed, Lusamerica officials promised. The company said it has closed areas where social distancing is difficult, such as the cafeteria and locker rooms. Face masks are mandatory at the company, and body temperature checks are performed on everyone entering the Lusamerica facility, the statement says.
“We have expanded our processing and distribution capacity at our other locations and will continue to provide safe, high quality product to meet the demand of our customers,” Lusamerica assured in its statement to reporters. “Our facilities are sanitized continuously throughout the day and at the end of each shift.”
Lusamerica also owns facilities in Fife, Washington, and Vernon, California.
Cody added that the notification of the initial COVID-19 case at Lusmerica and subsequent identification of more positive cases within the company is a good example of “how our containment strategy is working, and [how[ our cooperation with businesses in the region is working.”
The county health department’s COVID-19 data dashboard shows that, as of today, 63 cases have been reported in Morgan Hill. That’s a significant jump from the previous week, when the number of confirmed cases in the city was less than 50.