The Grapevine

Second Portland Coronavirus Outbreak Likely Stemmed From Townsend Farms, Officials Say

A new COVID-19 outbreak has hit Portland and it appears this has been traced to the Townsend Farms Cannery located in Multnomah and Washington counties. The 48 out of 350 people reportedly arrived at the Portland area between May 23 and 24 are affected, possibly more depending on the results of tests carried out in the said areas.

According to KGW.com, health officials believe that the people who came to Oregon were already infected with the strain and are still determining where they originated from. Some were seasonal workers who flocked to the metro over Memorial Day weekend. The company and state officials collaborated to hold testing for all workers once they arrived.

"People employed in agriculture are essential workers. They are also a vital part of our community," OHA Director Patrick Allen said. "The agricultural work environment can put them at higher risk of infection from a communicable disease like COVID-19, and we need to do everything we can to reduce that risk."

News on the outbreak first came out on Wednesday, when it was revealed that there were 71 new COVID-19 cases. The 41 of those came from Multnomah County. The identity of the business was initially kept under wraps by officials. However, Townsend Farm was singled out by the Oregonian in a report and OHA eventually issued their involvement on Thursday.

Later on, the director for Multnomah County's communicable disease program, Kim Toevs, explained that it was a routine practice not to divulge the identity of a company to the public about outbreaks. The OHA together with the Oregon Department of Agriculture and Multnomah and Washington counties are now working with Townsend Farms to ensure infection control and make sure that safety measures are in place.

"We as a usual point of practice do not do a public notification of a business worksite where there is an outbreak... unless we feel there are employees or customers or some kind of public contact that we have not been able to reach individuals that we need to get ahold of," Toevs said.

For Townsend Farms, this is not the first time that they have dealt with an outbreak during the pandemic. In April, 53 employees fell ill at their Fairview location, according to Toevs. Documents show that the Oregon Occupational Health and Safety Administration has received nine COVID-related workplace complaints about Townsend Farms since March.

farmers Fruits and veggies are good for your mind and body. Pexels

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