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Oregon Health Authority reports virus outbreak at Oregon-based natural food company; 14 employees affected

Updated: 2:35 p.m., Tuesday, June 2

A COVID-19 outbreak at Oregon-based food supplier Bob's Red Mill has been confirmed by the Oregon Health Authority.

PMG FILE PHOTO - A shipping container full of Bob's Red Mill products. The Oregon Health Authority reported a COVID-19 outbreak at the company on Tuesday, June 2.

OHA reported the outbreak Tuesday, June 2, in a report on the state's COVID-19 cases. The state's investigation into the virus cases at the company began May 27.

In a statement Tuesday, Bob's Red Mill said 14 employees at its production facility in Milwaukie tested positive.

"All are home to rest and quarantine with full pay. We are hopeful for mild cases and speedy recoveries. Upon positive testing, we immediately implemented contact tracing. Out of an abundance of caution, additional employees who may have been in contact despite social distancing are also at home to quarantine," Bob's Red Mill CEO Dennis Vaughn said in a statement. "All our employee-owners are working hard to meet demand for our products as a record number of families cook at home. Their health and safety are obviously top priority, and we are working closely with the Oregon Health Authority to ensure we are doing everything possible to prevent further spread of COVID-19."

State health officials said they had not visited the site and don't plan to, but the company is "working closely with local health officials" in the Clackamas County Health Department.

According to OHA, health officials are working with the company to maintain social distancing monitors, which were introduced on site in April. Other health precautions include: increased cleaning and sanitizing of high touch surfaces; limiting the number of stalls in large bathrooms; ensuring adequate hand washing facilities and limiting the number of non-essential people in and out of the facility. Company representatives later clarified that those measures, along with other changes to limit the number of people in each area of the production plant, have been in place since March. Health officials also noted the company will change its policy on masks for employees from "optional to required."

Bob's Red Mill maintains headquarters in Clackamas County, and operates three different locations, including a restaurant at its grain store in Milwaukie. The restaurant has been closed during the pandemic, an employee confirmed, but the grain store remains open.

The company distributes its products across the U.S. and is known for its whole grain and gluten-free flour and dry packaged foods.

A message on the company's website said it is prioritizing the health and well-being of employees during the COVID-19 pandemic, while still keeping operations running with more than 500 employees "working day and night to mill, mix, package and ship our products" to homes and grocery stores across the U.S.

The company's full COVID-19 response can be viewed here..

Note: This story has been updated to reflect the current number of employees affected,.


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