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National Frozen Foods outbreak sickens 34 people; plant to reopen
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National Frozen Foods outbreak sickens 34 people; plant to reopen

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The National Frozen Foods plant in Albany is the site of a coronavirus outbreak.

A coronavirus outbreak at the National Frozen Foods plant in Albany has resulted in 34 COVID-19 cases — 30 workers and four family or household members — Linn County Public Health disclosed in a news release on Wednesday afternoon.

Production at the facility was expected to resume within the next 24 hours, the news release states.

The data on the number of cases at National Frozen Foods in Albany and other information was shared voluntarily by the company, according to the news release.

Production has been voluntarily shut down at the plant since April 23, after eight employees and two family members tested positive for COVID-19, the illness caused by the novel coronavirus.

More employees developed symptoms, and the caseload increased. On Friday, National Frozen Foods tested 191 employees even though they were asymptomatic. An additional 10 employees tested positive for COVID-19, according to the news release.

National Frozen Foods has been working with Linn County Public Health and the Oregon Health Authority to respond to the outbreak. This included the temporary closure, COVID-19 testing for employees and developing a screening questionnaire to be completed by plant employees upon returning to work, the news release states.

The questionnaire includes several questions regarding symptoms related to COVID-19.

Additionally, National Frozen Foods ordered additional personal protective equipment for employee safety, completed a walk-through of the plant with Linn County Environmental Health inspectors and partnered with the U.S. Department of Agriculture to ensure safe food processing, according to the news release.

The Albany plant employs more than 300 people.

Linn County Public Health will conduct contact tracing on all cases in Linn County.

Last week, a county official declined to release additional information on the outbreak or reveal whether the plant was open, citing state guidelines. On Monday, a spokesman with the OHA said that state law prevented Oregon from releasing information about the outbreak or other outbreaks due to privacy concerns, as individuals with COVID-19 could be identified.

Kyle Odegard can be contacted at 541-812-6077 or kyle.odegard@lee.net.

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