Farbest confirms coronavirus casesMay 12, 2020
From Local Sources
HUNTINGBURG — In a statement provided to The Herald, Farbest Foods Inc. President Ted Seger said the Huntingburg plant's second shift was paused May 2-11 due to "a small number" of positive COVID-19 cases among employees. The company did not say how many people were tested or how many positive cases there were.
The Herald reached out to Farbest Tuesday after hearing about possible cases from several readers.
According to Seger, the pause was to "ensure that we meet the guidelines for asymptomatic individuals that could be present."
Due to Farbest's policy on privacy, the company will not share any more information about the cases.
Here's the full statement:
Because of the nature of our business with live turkey operations and processing turkey meat, we fall into the category of "Essential Business Functions" according to the United States government and as a result, have remained in production in every aspect during the COVID-19 pandemic. Farbest proudly owns that responsibility, and our workforce has risen to the challenge of producing a quality source of protein for our family and friends around the world during this time. The focus on safety of our employees has been ingrained in our culture for years before COVID-19, and that commitment has not wavered. As a company, we have been taking a multitude of precautions to protect our people beginning as early as mid-March, weeks before there were any confirmed cases in the counties we operate in.
The measures we have taken in addition to the standard daily sanitizing of our facilities include, but are not limited to: relaxing our attendance policies so as to not penalize employees who call in sick with symptoms of COVID-19, taking the temperature of all employees before entry into the plant and sending employees with a fever of 100.4 degrees home, screening employees for health and asking about travel, sending employees who are pregnant, aged 65+, or 60+ with compromised immune systems home for a paid leave, sanitizing the common areas such as cafeterias, restrooms, locker rooms, and break rooms every two hours, providing face masks and requiring their use, adding plexiglass barriers on the assembly line and in cafeterias, spacing tables out and adding more places to eat to encourage social distancing, elimination of all meetings and commuting between our facilities, staggering start times where possible to prevent all employees entering at one time, slowing the assembly line down before breaks and lunch to encourage social distancing, adding additional timeclocks to prevent crowding while clocking in and out, providing ample access to touchless hand sanitizer, daily communication about safety, company initiatives, and best practices in English and Spanish via handouts, posters, in-person communication, e-mails, and text messages, offering Telemedicine as a way to receive medical attention over the phone, and sharing our Employee Assistance Program as a solution for employees who feel anxious, scared, or isolated.
Our message has always been consistent--to stay home if you feel sick and to make decisions that prioritize your health and wellbeing. Again, weeks before there were any confirmed positive cases in our area, we had deployed an extensive procedure in the event of a confirmed positive case for identifying and monitoring the health of those deemed to be close contacts. We have adhered to, and in many cases exceeded, the Joint CDC/OSHA guidelines for the protection of essential workers. It has been our mission to learn from others in our industry and follow local, state, and national guidance. Farbest has cooperated with and sought the advice and guidance from our local health departments, local hospitals daily and the Indiana Department of Health. It is based on this expert input that we are pausing our second shift of operations at our Huntingburg, Indiana facility from May 2 - May 11 as we assess the small number of positive cases received. This pause will ensure that we meet the guidelines for asymptomatic individuals that could be present.
As well, we are adhering to the Executive Order issued April 28th, 2020 by the President of the United States as it pertains to the Defense Production Act, by keeping our first shift of operations running as we have experienced no cases as of today (May 4th). In addition, out of respect for privacy, Farbest has a policy not to discuss any cases of COVID-19 that may have happened or may happen with any of our employees.
We are thankful for the Patriots that work at Farbest--our nurses and our workforce made up of essential employees. Without these employees, our trusted farm families that grow our turkeys and our vendors who also must be working during this time, great customers around the world would not be able to source the necessary turkey to make the products brought daily to the consumer.
— Ted J. Seger
President, Farbest Foods, Inc.
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