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Dozens of employees of a Morgan Hill seafood wholesale and distribution company have tested positive for Covid-19 in recent days, according to Santa Clara County Public Health officials.

As of May 26, thirty-eight employees of Lusamerica Foods, located at 16480 Railroad Avenue, have tested positive for the illness, Santa Clara County Public Health Officer Sara Cody told the supervisors’ Health and Hospital Committee on Tuesday.

The local outbreak started at least two weeks earlier. A Lusamerica employee’s spouse had been hospitalized with Covid-19, Cody explained. The Lusamerica employee was subsequently tested for Covid-19, and results came back positive.

The employee informed management at Lusamerica Foods. “Their employer took responsibility for notifying contacts of that employee within the company, putting them on quarantine and ensuring they got tested,” Cody said.

The employer worked with county staff to make sure every employee at Lusamerica’s Morgan Hill facility was tested for Covid-19. So far, 38 tests have come back positive. Cody said more testing is planned at the company on May 27.

Cody said public health officials just learned of this “cluster” of Covid-19 cases when the initial test results of Lusamerica employees were reported to county offices early this week.

Lusamerica Chief Operating Officer Louise Moretti declined to answer questions about the cluster of Covid-19 cases at the Morgan Hill facility. The company sent out a statement detailing the precautions Lusamerica is taking to prevent spreading the illness further.

“We recently experienced cases of Covid-19 at one of our facilities and have partnered with the

County of Santa Clara to minimize any risk to our employees and the community,” reads the statement from Lusamerica. “We are committed to providing a safe working environment for our entire team, while continuing to serve our customers with the high quality and service they have come to expect.”

Lusamerica’s statement added that county staff inspected Lusamerica’s Morgan Hill facilities for sanitation and prevention measures, and received positive notes.

The statement added that all employees who have tested positive are staying at home, though the majority are not showing symptoms. All employees that tested negative will be retested. The company has closed areas where social distancing is difficult, such as the cafeteria and locker rooms. Face masks are mandatory at the company, and body temperature checks are performed on everyone entering the Lusamerica facility, adds the statement.

“We have expanded our processing and distribution capacity at our other locations and will continue to provide safe, high quality product to meet the demand of our customers,” added the statement from Lusamerica. “Our facilities are sanitized continuously throughout the day and at the end of each shift.”

Lusamerica also owns facilities in Fife, Wash. and Vernon, Calif.

Cody added that the notification of the initial Covid-19 case at Lusmerica and subsequent identification of more positive cases within the company is a good example of “how our containment strategy is working, and (how) our cooperation with businesses in the region is working.”

The county public health department’s Covid-19 data dashboard shows that, as of May 26, sixty-three cases of Covid-19 have been reported in Morgan Hill. That’s a significant jump from the previous week, when the number of confirmed local cases was less than fifty.

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Michael Moore is an award-winning journalist who has worked as a reporter and editor for the Morgan Hill Times, Hollister Free Lance and Gilroy Dispatch since 2008. During that time, he has covered crime, breaking news, local government, education, entertainment and more.


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