MONITOR — Nine COVID-19 cases were reported within 14 days at a McDougall & Sons packing facility in Monitor and all on-site employees were to be tested for the virus.
McDougall & Sons confirmed its ninth case on Thursday, according to a news release from the Chelan-Douglas Health District. Following the state requirements, it then contacted the health district, which is coordinating testing.
Confluence Health is conducting the wide-scale tests of all employees, which began Friday, according to the release.
As of Sunday, 113 employees had been tested and the company was working to schedule tests for the remaining 21 employees, said Rachel Noll, a spokeswoman with a state incident command team assisting the health district.
Agricultural companies are now required to test all employees in a workplace if, within a 14-day period, there are nine cases or more than 10% of employees test positive.
For a company like McDougall that has multiple facilities, the wide-scale testing would only be required for employees at the one workplace that has met those thresholds, according to the state’s safety plan.
Any employee who declines a test wouldn’t be permitted to return to work, according to the safety plan.
It’s one of the new regulations for the agriculture industry announced by Gov. Jay Inslee on Aug. 19. Under the same proclamation, Inslee specifically ordered all Gebbers Farms employees, around 4,500 people, to be tested.
That comes after a major outbreak among Gebbers Farms employees and the death of three of its workers.
The McDougall & Sons testing effort is one of the first in North Central Washington under these new regulations. The health district is providing guidance to the company on best practices for preventing exposure, cleaning and employee contact tracing, according to the news release.
Since the pandemic began, one in five people who have tested positive in Chelan and Douglas counties works in agriculture, according to health district data. 94.6% of those diagnosed workers are Hispanic.