Virus outbreak affects dozens of strawberry harvest workers
KLAMATH FALLS, Ore. (AP) — Nearly 60 incoming seasonal contract strawberry harvest workers for Planasa Oregon Operations LLC on Short Road in Klamath Falls tested positive for COVID-19 before they started work about two weeks ago.
The outbreak is linked to workers who were tested before going to work at the Short Road facility in Klamath Falls, The Herald and News reported.
Klamath County Public Health reported that 54 of the 452 people the company tested as a precaution before they started harvest work were confirmed COVID-19 positive. Oregon Health Authority said last week there were five additional cases reported, for a total of 59 cases, that could include other household members aside from harvest workers.
Contract workers for Planasa were immediately placed in protected housing in Klamath Falls after they tested positive, according to Michael Delaney, U.S. Business Director for Planasa.
The outbreak investigation started on Oct. 1, but the initial case count was below the threshold for public disclosure, according to an Oregon Health Authority news release. Fifty-two of the total 59 cases will be added to the totals for the week ending on Oct. 3. The delay in reporting resulted from initial uncertainty about the location of the worksite where many of the employees were employed, according to state officials.
The harvest workers lived, worked, and quarantined in Klamath County.
The Planasa facility remains operational in Klamath Falls with temperature checks and other practices according to CDC guidelines, according to Delaney.