Foster Farms idles poultry plant in Fresno

As COVID-19 cases increase in California, Foster Farms idled its Cherry Street plant in Fresno, California.

Roy Graber Headshot
(Foster Farms)
(Foster Farms)

As COVID-19 cases increase in California, Foster Farms suspended production at its Cherry Street plant in Fresno, California.

Ira Brill, vice president of communications for Foster Farms, said the company has conducted more than 7,000 COVID-19 tests at its facilities in Fresno County since September. And while its Cherry Street and Belgravia plants have consistently had COVID-19 prevalence rates below 1% through the end of October, the rates began to climb in early November, along with the overall number of cases in Fresno County. During the past two weeks, testing at the Cherry Street plant identified 193 asymptomatic cases of COVID-19 among plant workers. Those workers, as well as those identified as close contacts, were advised to self-isolate and seek needed medical attention.

Given the number of positive COVID-19 cases, Brill said the company opted to reduce operations during the first week of December, and close the plant on December 5-6 for a deep cleaning.

“Once reopened, Foster Farms will continue testing the entire Cherry Street workforce twice per week,” said Brill. “The Fresno Department of Public Health has been advised of these measures and is fully supportive of the company’s effort.”

The suspension of operations at the Cherry Street plant “had no impact on meeting customer orders,” Brill added.

Merced County cases

Brill also reported that seven workers at the company’s poultry plant in Livingston, California, and an additional three workers at other facilities within the Livingston complex recently tested positive for COVID 19.

Like those people who tested positive in Fresno County, the affected Livingston workers and those who were close contacts were advised to self-isolate and seek needed medical attention while receiving all appropriate medical benefits from the company.

The Livingston plant was closed during the first week of September, following an order from the Merced County Department of Public Health (MCDPH) to do so until it was deemed safe to reopen. At the time, more than 350 employees had tested positive, including eight fatalities.

Cases outside of Foster Farms plants

According to Brill, both Merced and Fresno counties have recently experienced “dramatic surges in COVID-19 cases, “well before cases were identified in the plants.” Both counties, Brill noted, currently have positivity rates above 10%.

Both counties are also subject to California Gov. Gavin Newsome’s stay-at-home order, which affects all but essential parts of the county’s infrastructure, Brill said.

“COVID-19 represents a continuing challenge to all who live and work in California,” Brill stated. “Tempering the recent statewide surge in COVID-19 will require active cooperation of government, public health authorities, business and the greater public. Foster Farms is committed to protecting its workforce as part of this broader effort.”

View our continuing coverage of the coronavirus/COVID-19 pandemic.

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