Clark County Public Health has identified 84 cases of COVID-19 among employees of Firestone Pacific Foods and their close contacts. The Public Health investigation into the outbreak at the Vancouver food processing facility is ongoing.
As of Tuesday morning, 69 employees of Firestone Pacific Foods have tested positive for COVID-19; four are not Clark County residents. Another 15 people identified as close contacts of those cases have also tested positive.
Public Health coordinated with The Vancouver Clinic and Firestone to facilitate COVID-19 testing of all employees. That testing began Friday afternoon. Public Health is also recommending testing for all close contacts of employees who test positive. The facility-wide testing of employees uncovered at least 18 people who tested positive but did not have symptoms at the time of their interview with Public Health. Information is not yet available about the number of close contacts who tested positive but did not have symptoms.
“These cases may have gone undetected and potentially exposed others had we not facilitated testing of all employees,” said Dr. Alan Melnick, Clark County health officer and Public Health director. “By being proactive, we have hopefully kept this outbreak contained to Firestone employees and close contacts, and prevented the outbreak from spreading into the community.”
At this time, there is no evidence the outbreak has spread beyond Firestone employees and their close contacts.
A total of 165 employees and 83 close contacts have been tested. Additional testing of employees and close contacts is expected.
Clark County Public Health interviewed the first case linked to Firestone on Monday, May 18. The employee was isolated and close contacts were asked to self-quarantine. Case interviews of two additional cases reported on May 18 revealed a link to Firestone, which prompted Public Health to stop production at the facility on Tuesday, May 19. Production was stopped in order to prevent the virus from continuing to spread among employees. There is currently no evidence COVID-19 can spread through food or food packaging.
Three additional cases linked to Firestone were reported to Public Health on Tuesday, May 19. After learning of the new cases, Public Health began working with Firestone and The Vancouver Clinic to arrange for facility-wide testing of all employees. Public Health also began working with Firestone and Washington Labor & Industries to develop a plan to help the facility better align with new guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
As of Friday morning, Public Health had confirmed 12 cases among Firestone employees (10 Clark County residents). Facility-wide testing of all employees began Friday afternoon. Late Friday afternoon, Public Health was notified of an additional 26 cases among Firestone employees.
Testing of Firestone employees continued throughout the weekend. In addition, Public Health recommended testing of everyone identified as a close contact to those employees who tested positive.
Everyone who tests positive is instructed to isolate at home. Public Health staff is interviewing all positive cases to identify and notify close contacts, who will be asked to quarantine for 14 days.
In total, 510 people have tested positive for COVID-19 in Clark County and 25 people have died. For more information about COVID-19 and the Public Health response, visit the Public Health website.
Source: Clark County Public Health