NORTH KINGSTOWN, R.I. — For the last two weeks state officials have been working to contain an outbreak and spread of the Coronavirus in a North Kingstown food processing plant at which about 100 cases have developed.
State officials have said that they are working with the company, Taylor Farms New England, located in Quonset, to ensure that no one with the disease reports to work and that employees reporting to work are screened for any symptoms of the virus.
The operations are also being disinfected to prevent the spread of the virus within the building. The company makes salads and prepares other kinds of foods for grocery stores to sell.
The federal Food and Drug Administration as well as the Centers for Disease Control have said there is no indication that the virus is foodborne.
"For example, FDA has said that they would not issue a food recall because of a sick employee in a food processing plant. However, we are in daily contact with the facility and will take stricter action if there is another grouping of cases among people currently at work," said R.I. Department of Health spokesperson Joseph Wendelken in a statement to The Independent.
The company in a statement acknowledged that employees tested positive for the virus and are in self-quarantine and under medical care. Others who had contact with the employees are on paid sick leave and have been advised to seek medical assistance.
It also said, as part of its preparation to deal early with the virus, in mid-March began measures such as small work groups, social distancing, job-site disinfection and sanitations and frequent cleaning of common areas.
A division of the Stop & Shop parent company Ahold, Taylor Farms also said that it is monitoring any further developments of the illness in the plant.
Company officials could not be reached for further comment.
Gov. Gina Raimondo referenced the outbreak at Taylor Farms on Wednesday during her daily coronavirus conference call with reporters while discussing the state’s need to have more testing available as the economy reopens.
“That’s the kind of stuff that’s going to happen, and we’re not quite yet at a place where we can do that, what I keep calling ‘mobile testing’ — get down there quickly, with the machine, test everybody,” she said.
Greg Mancini, North Kingstown Town Council president, said Wednesday he was unaware of the outbreak at the plant before today's disclosure by the state Department of Health. Town Manager Ralph Mollis could not be reached for comment.