Leprino Foods set to reopen Fort Morgan cheese plant
A Fort Morgan cheese plant that shutdown after employees tested positive for the new coronavirus is set to partially reopen this weekend.
Leprino Foods tested all employees — roughly 390 people — at the factory and found that 80 workers tested positive for COVID-19, the respiratory disease caused by the new coronavirus. Of those who tested positive, almost half were asymptomatic, said spokeswoman Kim DeVigil in an email.
About 80% of the workforce, roughly 310 employees, tested negative.
“We believed that testing our entire workplace was necessary to ensure that we removed those asymptomatic positive cases from our workforce and pave the way for eventually returning to full operations at the plant,” she said.
Leprino Foods announced Sunday that it would close the plant for at least five days while employees were tested. The testing was conducted with the help of the Northeast Colorado Health Department.
The company is aiming to open the plant on Sunday with one line running. The factory will go fully operational once it has a full workforce, DeVigil said.
The employees who tested negative for COVID-19 and show no symptoms will return to work when the plant reopens. Those who tested positive “have been told that they are not to return to the workplace until they have been medically cleared,” DeVigil said.
Leprino Foods is offering employees supplemental sick leave during their time off because of COVID-19, she said.
The cheese plant is being cleaned and disinfected this week in preparation for the reopening, she said.
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