Bristol Seafood is closing its processing plant on the Portland Fish Pier for two days after tests confirmed that five workers have COVID-19, the company said Monday.
Irene Moon, Bristol’s vice president of marketing, declined to say where in the plant the employees who tested positive were working, citing patient confidentiality rules.
Moon said the workers were sent to doctors for the tests and the results came back Monday. The rest of the workers were tested Monday at the company’s plant on the Portland Fish Pier, but results were not immediately available.
The plant was closed Monday and will remain closed Tuesday while the site is cleaned and disinfected, Moon said. The company also has been in touch with the Maine Center for Disease Control and Prevention about how to deal with the outbreak.
The CDC will conduct contact tracing to get in touch with those who have been in contact with the workers who tested positive, Moon said.
The Maine CDC confirmed an outbreak at the plant Saturday, agency spokesman Robert Long said. An outbreak, he said, is at least three confirmed cases connected to one location that are epidemiologically linked. Long said Bristol voluntarily agreed to universal testing of its staff, and the CDC was running the tests at its Health and Environmental Testing Laboratory.
The company completed testing all employees Monday, said Peter Handy, Bristol’s president and CEO.
The facility in Portland is Bristol’s only processing plant, Moon said. There are 10 office workers, who have been working off site since the coronavirus pandemic hit, and about 60 people work in the processing section. Bristol sells a line of ready-to-cook scallops, haddock, cod and salmon known as “My Fish Dish” and also sells some seafood in bulk, Moon said.
Bristol took steps in March to mitigate the risk of workers contracting coronavirus, and the plant is now set up so workers maintain social distancing of at least 6 feet, she said. The company also said it sanitizes its facility throughout the day and at the end of each shift, installed an outdoor hand-washing station, has workers fill out health questionnaires and undergo a temperature check prior to entry, has barred outside visitors and has workers use masks, face shields, gloves and gowns while on the job.
“We are proactively communicating with the Maine CDC and meeting or exceeding their recommendations,” Handy said in a news release. “We plan to reopen later this week with team members who have verified negative results.”
Tyson Foods in Portland reported an outbreak in its poultry processing plant during the first full week of May and eventually reported nearly five dozen cases of COVID-19. That company also closed its plant for a deep cleaning and then reopened with new safety measures in place.