100 cases of COVID-19 associated with Taylor Farms in North Kingstown
NORTH KINGSTOWN, R.I. (WLNE) – According to the Department of Health, there are approximately 100 cases of COVID-19 associated with Taylor Farms New England, a food processing facility in North Kingstown.
This comes a week after we first reported that employees expressed concerns with working conditions at Taylor Farms.
The Rhode Island Department of Health and the Rhode Island Department of Business Regulation are now working with the facility.
“Anyone with symptoms is not at work, and of course all people who have COVID-19 are not at work,” said a spokesperson for the Department of Health.
The facility is now mandating the use of facemasks for employees, employee temperature checks are being done at the start of every shift, and enhanced symptom screening of employees is being done.
The FDA and the CDC have said that there is no indication that the virus is foodborne. For example, FDA has said that they would not issue a food recall because of a sick employee in a food processing plant. However, RIDOH is in daily contact with the facility and will take stricter action if there is another grouping of cases among people currently at work.
Taylor Farms released the following statement when asked for comment:
Taylor Farms is focused and committed to the health and well-being of our team members. On March 15th, the company initiated significant enhancements to our operating protocols to mitigate the COVID-19 risk to our team. We implemented extended paid sick leave so team members would stay home if they thought they were ill. We educated all employees on the importance of vigilance, working in smaller groups, social separation and personal and job site sanitation. We added sanitation personnel to continuously clean common areas in all our plants. On March 24th, Taylor Farms announced the additional requirements of taking employee temperatures prior to entering our facilities and all employees wearing masks. We have implemented these requirements as thermometers and masks have come available.
In our Rhode Island operation, we have several employees who have tested positive for COVID-19 and those individuals are currently in self quarantine or under medical care. All employees who recently came in contact with those individuals have been asked to contact their company funded healthcare providers and are home on paid sick leave. Taylor Farms has been working closely with the Rhode Island Department of Health and the Rhode Island Department of Business Regulation for the past two weeks and will continue to monitor the situation carefully.