Stemilt packing line shuts down after 25 new COVID-19 infections

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WENATCHEE —Just one month after a coronavirus outbreak in one of its farmworker housing units, Stemilt Growers says 25 out of 60 people in one of its packing house teams have tested positive for the disease.

The fruit company tested the workers on Friday and announced the results Saturday. All those identified will undergo isolation protocols before returning to work.

The cases were discovered in Stemilt’s specialty packaging line, which shut down after after three workers there showed symptoms and tested positive on May 19. Stemilt says COVID-19 appears to have spread among line workers at its Olds Station facility despite CDC-approved sanitation, separation and mask-wearing measures.

In a statement, Stemilt president West Mathison said, “The safety and well-being of our team members has been and remains our top priority.”

The new diagnoses contributed to 52 total new cases of coronavirus identified in Chelan County over the past week. On April 21, Stemilt announced 36 of its 71 workers housed at an East Wenatchee job site and performing fieldwork under H-2A visas had positive results after a precautionary round of testing. All were asymptomatic at the time.