According to a press release from the City of Seward, an employee at the OBI Seafoods plant in Seward sought medical attention at Providence Seward Medical Center recently and tested positive for coronavirus. The care at Providence was unrelated to the virus.
The positive test on Sunday resulted in all 262 employees being tested. Ninety-six of the employees tested positive. Isolation protocols have been put in place as contact tracing begins.
As a part of OBI’s Community and Workforce Protective Plan, all employees coming from outside Alaska were tested prior to arrival and twice while in quarantine before being released into the workforce. The company has been operating as a closed campus and all employees who reside in company housing must remain on company property at all times.
Some OBI employees are Seward residents and live off campus. Of those, 11 have tested positive. All of those individuals are currently isolating in their homes but have the option of moving into company housing during isolation.
“Alaska is currently experiencing three large, separate outbreaks of COVID-19 in the seafood industry,” said Dr. Joe McLaughlin, Alaska’s State Epidemiologist. “These outbreaks are reminiscent of the meat packing plant outbreaks in the Lower 48 and stress the importance of vigilant symptom screening and prompt facility-wide testing in congregate work settings when index cases are identified.”
The company reported that the vast majority of the employees who tested positive say they are not experiencing COVID symptoms. No company employees have been hospitalized due to COVID-19. Employees who tested positive were transported today to Anchorage by private ground transportation and will be isolated in a safe and secure location. OBI will provide all medical care, monitoring, security and housing for the employees. Precautions are being taken during transport and upon arrival to protect the communities of Anchorage and Seward.
Employees who tested negative will remain in Seward under quarantine where they will be monitored and tested every three days until no additional positive cases are identified.
The plant has been closed to undergo deep cleaning and disinfection according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention guidance.