MEDFORD, Ore. — Jackson County public health officials reported six new coronavirus cases on Wednesday, five of them linked to an outbreak at Harry & David.
Jackson County Public Health said that three employees of Harry & David were positive for the virus, in addition to two close contacts of those workers. An outbreak investigation began on Tuesday.
"Jackson County Public Health is working closely with Harry & David on this outbreak. Both agencies are working to ensure that employees who were in close contact with the cases are tested," the County said in a statement. "Harry & David and its employees are following Jackson County Public Health recommendations. This outbreak remains under investigation."
The company's corporate offices confirmed to NewsWatch 12 on Tuesday that more than one Harry & David worker had tested positive, though a spokesperson could not confirm at the time how many employees were affected.
Harry & David is owned by 1-800-FLOWERS.COM, Inc. A corporate spokesperson gave NewsWatch 12 an updated statement on Wednesday:
"At this time, we are actively working with Jackson County Public Health in regards to three positive employee cases of COVID-19 within the specialty foods area of the Harry & David campus. All COVID-19 impacted specialty foods workers were on the morning shift and are currently quarantining at home," said Kathleen Waugh, vice president of Enterprise Public Relations.
Waugh said that all employees on the specialty foods morning shift were sent home on Tuesday out of an abundance of caution, and they currently remain at home. All shifts in the specialty foods and nearby areas were also canceled on Tuesday while the facility was deep-cleaned, foamed, and sanitized.
"We are following the guidance of Jackson County Public Health concerning further precautionary steps, including testing," Waugh said.
Harry & David has enacted social distancing, "de-densifying," and sanitizing procedures at all of its facilities since the early days of the COVID-19 pandemic, Waugh said.
"Ongoing safety protocols within the facility include rigorous daily cleaning and sanitizing, including between shifts," Waugh continued. "Across all Harry & David facilities, employees are required to wear face coverings and we continue to enforce social distancing, which ensures a minimum of 6 feet between workstations and other locations throughout the facility. In addition, in a number of areas, we have implemented protective barriers to further protect our employees."
Most employees at Harry & David are still working from home, Waugh said, and the company is working to confirm how many employees had been working on-site in the specialty foods area.
"As we continue to work together with Jackson County Public Health, the health and safety of our employees and their families remains our number one priority," Waugh concluded.
Many of Oregon's most recent outbreaks of coronavirus have been among workers at food processing facilities in the state, driving a spike in cases on Sunday and Monday. The Oregon Health Authority has started reporting outbreaks of more than five cases at a single workplace in its weekly reports.
As of Wednesday morning, there were a total of 77 reported cases of COVID-19 in Jackson County. Of those cases, 60 have recovered and 17 are still considered active.
EDIT: This article has been updated with the Wednesday statement from a 1-800-FLOWERS.COM spokesperson regarding the Harry & David outbreak.