CHAUTAUQUA COUNTY, N.Y. — In a press conference Monday afternoon, Chautauqua County officials announced that several COVID-19 cases in the county have been related to an employer in Dunkirk.
Officials say of the 31 active COVID cases in the county, 22 are related to Fieldbrook Foods Corporation in Dunkirk.
According to the Chautauqua County Department of Health and Human Services, 10 of the 15 reported positive cases reported over the weekend were related to Fieldbrook Foods.
Since the pandemic began, 30 positive COVID-19 cases have been associated with Fieldbrook Foods. Of those who have tested positive, 24 people were employees while six people were close contacts of those infected.
“We received the first positive COVID-19 test result related to Fieldbrook Foods on August 16,” said Christine Schuyler, public health director. “The initial case investigations found several confirmed cases associated with this employer, indicating the potential for a larger outbreak to occur. As such, we have been proactively working with New York State Department of Health and administration of Fieldbrook Foods to manage and control the spread of disease. The increased number of positive tests reported this weekend substantiated our concern about a potentially larger outbreak.”
Chautauqua County says upon identifying a potential cluster of cases, the county has been working with Fieldbook's local management as well as Wells Enterprises, Inc. — the corporate office in Iowa. Chautauqua County officials say the company has been very cooperative thus far.
Chautauqua County has also been in contact with local elected officials, school officials and emergency responders to inform everyone about the situation and to further prevent the spread.
"Our public health staff will be conducting a COVID-19 testing clinic for Fieldbrook Food's workforce" said Schulyer. "This partnership will enable expedited testing for their workforce."
Fieldbrook released the following statement Monday:
Fieldbrook Foods Corporation has partnered with the Chautauqua County Health Department and the State of New York to offer voluntary COVID-19 testing at our facility. We feel this is a great opportunity to partner with the County and the State and potentially ease the minds of any employees who may have concerns about COVID-19. We have been monitoring the COVID-19 situation closely with our team members’ health and safety our number one priority. Approximately 4% of the employees at our Dunkirk, NY manufacturing facility have tested positive since COVID-19 began.
Fieldbrook’s Ongoing Commitment to Team Member Safety During the COVID-19 Pandemic
Good Manufacturing Practices (GMPs) are in place at all our facilities to ensure food safety exceeds the measures necessary to prevent COVID-19 and any cross contamination.
- We screen and take temperatures of team members at all manufacturing facilities daily.
- We are embracing social distancing and deploying our work-from-home policy for individuals whose jobs allow it, ensuring all team members who are sick (or feel sick) stay home, and are giving team members flexible time off accommodations so they can prioritize their health.
- Our COVID-19 policies at all facilities include, but are not limited to:
- Required face mask usage
- Six-foot markers in common areas to enhance social distance
- Barriers placed in areas where social distance is not possible
- Sanitizing products readily available throughout our facilities
- Additional investment in increased sanitation
- Staggering of schedules to mitigate spread in the event of any possible exposure
- Fieldbrook’s combined response exceeds CDC guidelines and is biased toward protecting employees.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and World Health Organization (WHO), there is currently no evidence of food or food packaging being associated with transmission of COVID-19. Our facilities ensure quality and food safety standards are consistently met or exceeded to ensure consumers can trust our products.