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Timber Products temporarily shuts down Medford mill after COVID-19 case

A company spokesman confirmed on Thursday its particlboard mill in Medford was shut down after an employee tested positive for COVID-19.

Posted: Apr 2, 2020 1:40 PM
Updated: Apr 2, 2020 6:23 PM

MEDFORD, Ore. — Timber Products confirmed on Thursday that it has temporarily shut down a facility in Medford after an employee tested positive for COVID-19.

According to Chris Knowles, director of marketing for Timber Products, the company has shut down its mill in Medford while the facility is deep cleaned. They plan to re-open the mill sometime next week.

Knowles said that the employee has not been at work for almost two weeks.

Multiple sources reached out to NewsWatch 12 with more context on the closure. While the Medford particleboard mill has been shut down, employees in the plywood section of the same plant are still working.

According to a notice posted at the plant, an investigation by Timber Products found that 14 employees had potential exposure from the diagnosed worker, and the company recommended that all of those employees get tested for COVID-19.

"We will be evaluating the situation through this week, with plans to start up on Monday," said the notice addressed from CEO Steve Killgore. He advised that all employees follow CDC recommendations to watch for symptoms, practice social distancing, and seek medical assistance if symptoms develop.

Timber Products has a number of manufacturing locations in southern Oregon — the hardwood plywood and particleboard facility in Medford, a softwood and hardwood plywood facility in Grants Pass, and a spectrum facility in White City — as well as a softwood veneer facility in Yreka, California.

Under Governor Kate Brown's executive order, manufacturing businesses like Timber Products were not ordered to shut down, but all remaining businesses are supposed to appoint a social distancing officer to enforce six feet of distance between employees, among other measures for heightened cleanliness.

"At Timber Products nothing is more important than the health and safety of our employees and we have taken measures beyond those recommended by the CDC," Killgore's notice reads. "Employees who display symptoms of COVID-19 are not to be at work, and may not return to work until they have been cleared by a doctor."

Killgore acknowledged that COVID-19 is a serious illness that can cause anxiety for employees, but underlined the company's position as an essential service:

"As a designated critical and essential business by the Department of Homeland Security, we are one of many industries that our country wants to remain intact. We intend to operate but not at the expense of safety. Should you have any concerns regarding your work environment, please talk to your supervisor."

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