A fruit packing facility in Hood River’s Mid-Valley has been identified as having a cluster of COVID-19 cases. Whenever more than one case is linked to an Agricultural or Long Term Care Facility it is classified as an ‘outbreak’ by the Oregon Health Authority (OHA). Once five or more cases are identified OHA will release this information in their weekly report. We have not identified the source of this outbreak. As a community we must continue to follow guidance for proper social distancing and mask use both at work and during personal time outside of work. Webster Orchards / The Fruit Company has done an outstanding job responding to this workplace outbreak. They are providing housing, food, and support for their employees. We feel this particular outbreak is well controlled at this time. They had worked hard to put safeguards into place for their employees before this outbreak occurred. L. Scott Webster, Owner of The Fruit Company stated; “We so appreciate all our employees along with management, who have worked tirelessly to maintain a safe and clean workplace during the pandemic. We would also like to thank the Hood River County Health Department for their guidance during this process. With over 300 employees hired since March, we continue our effort to keep all our employees safe and healthy with proper “at work” procedures provided by the CDC and our local county Health Department. We understand that we have limited influence as to what people’s behavior outside of the workplace is, and would ask that all those in our community use extra caution after hours so that we may continue to operate as an essential business in our community by continuing food services to customers.”
The contact tracing efforts here at Hood River County Health Department are essential, as cases in our state and county continue to accelerate. We understand this is a confusing and challenging time, but we are grateful for our community’s collective response in supporting our local farms, packing houses, and essential workers to have a safe and successful harvest. We appreciate the risks and sacrifices they are taking to put local produce on our tables. Not all of the individuals who tested positive and are connected to this outbreak cluster live in Hood River County. We appreciate our partners who come together when an outbreak has multijurisdictional impact.
“Unfortunately, we will see more incidences of virus spread in the coming weeks and months”, Christopher Van Tilburg, Health Officer for HRCHD states. Most importantly, everyone must stay home if they feel ill or have any symptoms, don’t go out call your doctor!