Sunsweet closed part of its processing plant in Yuba City on Tuesday and Wednesday due to a potential COVID-19 exposure.

Harold Schenker, general counsel/corporate development for Sunsweet Growers Inc., said most of the Yuba City facility was closed to do cleaning and evaluate. He said they closed down a number of operational lines and worked with the health department on contact tracing. 

Schenker said an outside vendor had notified them that a sales representative who had visited them tested positive for the coronavirus.

However, by the time they were notified a fairly long period had passed. Still, several employees were sent home so they could identify what the exposure was.

“In this most recent analysis, we looked at over 100 employees who may have had potential exposure,” Schenker said.

After that, however, they found several didn’t have contact exposure as defined by the health department so some are being allowed to return to work.

“We have fairly vigorous procedures for screening, personal protection with masks, monitoring and distancing … We have closed occasionally to do massive cleaning, to do more testing and reviews,” Schenker said. “... We are continuing to process and operate when we’ve considered it safe.”

He said they’re also going to be testing many of their employees.

“(We’re) doing our best to make sure to reduce the risk as much as possible,” Schenker said. “We have staggered work times, separated cafeteria eating situations ...”

He said they also don’t allow anyone to work if they’re experiencing symptoms and if someone doesn’t have to be at the plant to work, they work from home. 

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