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COVID-19 Outbreaks at Food Plants in Tulare, Kings Counties



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At least 107 employees at two Ruiz Foods facilities in Dinuba and Tulare have tested positive for the virus, the Visalia Times-Delta reported Tuesday.

More Than Half of Kings Cases Tied to Meat Plant

In addition, Kings County Supervisor Doug Verboon told The Fresno Bee on Wednesday that 138 of the county’s 211 COVID-19 cases are tied to the Central Valley Meat Co.

“It’s isolated. We can control it if we have the cooperation of the packing plant,” Verboon said. “We had a lot of cases in a small area real quick.”

Ruiz Ramps up Safety Measures

Ruiz Foods, a frozen Mexican food company known for its El Monterey brand, last week reported 43 positive cases between the two facilities, prompting company officials to stop production lines Monday at the Dinuba facility and increase testing of its employees.

Production at the company’s Dinuba facility has paused as of Monday, though employees at the Tulare facility, where safety measures have been enhanced, continue preparing and packaging burritos, quesadillas, enchiladas, and other food items.

Employees must undergo temperature screenings and are required to wear masks at work. Those known to have been exposed to someone with COVID-19 are being placed off work for a minimum of 14 days.

“We have enhanced our already stringent sanitation processes and worked to improve physical distancing within the facility to the maximum extent feasible,” the company said in an email to the Times-Delta.

Ruiz Foods is working with Family HealthCare Network and the county health department to test employees at the two facilities, the newspaper reported.

Tulare County Using Contact Tracing

“We worked in collaboration to identify individuals who would need to be tested first based on contact tracing,” said Tammie Weyker-Adkins, public information officer for Tulare County Health and Human Services.

As of Tuesday, Tulare County has 858 known cases of COVID-19.

As Tulare County cases continue to rise, “we are being impacted,” a Ruiz Foods spokesperson said in an email, noting there was an uptick in reported positive cases after Easter weekend, similar to the rest of the county.

The company employees 3,500 people at facilities in California, Texas, and South Carolina. It is not clear how many of them work at the Tulare County facilities.

(Associated Press contributed to this article.)