Coronavirus Outbreaks Surge Among Oregon Food Processors, State Scrambles to React

Coronavirus outbreaks at food processors and agricultural sites have infected more than 600 workers and close contacts in Oregon and Southwest Washington since mid-April, with recent outbreaks at companies in Vancouver and Newport infecting well over 100 people apiece.

Such mass workplace outbreaks have contributed to a recent spike in Oregon’s COVID-19 cases. And that rise in infections was among several markers that prompted Gov. Kate Brown to pause the state’s reopening plans on June 11, threatening the pace of Oregon’s economic recovery from the pandemic.

State health authorities didn’t issue a “playbook” on how to respond to outbreaks at food processing sites until early June, more than three months after Oregon detected its first coronavirus cases. They didn’t send operational guidance to all employers until the beginning of June, either.

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