Based on the expert guidance from and partnership with the Indiana State Department of Health, the Dubois County Health Department, and Memorial Hospital and Health Care Center, Farbest Foods tested all employees at the Huntingburg processing plant for COVID-19 on Friday, May 15th. This was a unanimous decision from all entities involved—one made in an overabundance of caution, as local and state health authorities audited our facilities on May 8th and approved our process protections and control plan in accordance with CDC guidance. The goal of testing Huntingburg employees was to identify asymptomatic individuals and have them self-isolate for ten days per CDC guidance to protect our employees, their families, and the community from further exposure to the virus. The ISDH administered 588 tests to Farbest Foods Huntingburg employees. Of those 588 tests, 101 were confirmed asymptomatic positives from various counties, while 464 of those tests results were negative and 23 tests are still pending verification.
The FarbestHuntingburgplant will be closed Monday, May 18th and Tuesday, May 19th to allow company officials time to contact individuals on more specific work schedules. At this time, the plant is scheduled to reopen on Wednesday, May 20th for those with negative test results. However, due to the rapid speed at which data becomes available, this situation requires flexibility, and we are prepared to adapt our schedule as the need arises. Our number one priority continues to be the safety and health of our employees, and we will make decisions with that in mind.
The ISDH, through the Maximus Contact Tracing Call Center, as well as our own Farbest nurses and Human Resources team members, are in contact with the affected employees regularly. The extensive measures in place at our facilities since mid-March shall not cease, and we shall continue to keep those employees aged 65 years and older (off since March 24th), 60 years or older with compromised immune systems (off since April 6th) and employees who are pregnant, on paid leave from work. It is worth mentioning that employees in these groups have been off well before our first confirmed positive case on April 28th. As an added precaution during employee testing, Farbest conducted environmental swab tests for 20 high-touch surfaces in the plant. All 20 of those tests were negative, and we plan to continue this environmental swab testing in the coming weeks. For a complete list of actions taken and more information on our company response thus far, please visit https://farbestfoods.com/farbest-foods-response-to-covid-19/.
At this time, there is currently no evidence to support transmission of COVID-19 associated with food. Please visit the Center for Disease Control, Food & Drug Administration and the US Department of Agriculture websites for more information on the safety of the food supply.
We are grateful for the resources available to test our employees and for the continued support of the Indiana State Department of Health, the Dubois County Health Department, and Memorial Hospital. We thank our employees for their participation in testing, and as always, we wish good health to our team of essential employees and their families.