Nearly 50 Cabot Creamery workers were asked to quarantine last week after three employees in the cheesemaker’s factory tested positive for Covid-19, according to a local official.
“Anyone that was in potential exposure risk was asked to go home and quarantine and be tested, and they were not going to be allowed to come back to work until they received a negative covid test,” said Jenn Miner, emergency management director for the town of Cabot.
Miner said she was first contacted about the situation last Wednesday morning. She said about seven employees in the creamery’s lower plant had to quarantine, as well as the staff on two full assembly lines in the “cut and wrap” facility. About 20 people work each line, she said.
Miner said none of the quarantined workers had tested positive for the virus, to the best of her knowledge.
Rick Winter, a vice president of human resources with Cabot’s parent company, Agri-Mark, confirmed that several employees had tested positive for Covid-19 at the Cabot cut and wrap facility.
“Once made aware, we took immediate action and performed our own internal contact tracing, which resulted in numerous employees’ quarantining from one of our shifts,” Winter said in a statement. “These employees are quarantined to protect themselves and any other employees they may have come into contact with.”
All employees under quarantine are being compensated while at home, Winter said.
Ben Truman, spokesperson for the state Department of Health, said he wasn’t aware of whether the creamery had sent employees home.
“The health department is working with Cabot Creamery to do the contact tracing work we do with any cases that may be associated with a facility — identifying close contacts and reaching out to ensure all have information for their care and guidance to isolate and quarantine as appropriate,” Truman said.
Miner said the Cabot Creamery facility has had two previous Covid scares. Last June, an employee tested positive after traveling out of state, she said, but no community spread was traced to the case. And last November, two other employees tested positive, causing about 15 workers to quarantine. But no other employees contracted the virus, she said.
On both occasions, the town official said she reached out to Cabot to offer help if needed. But she “didn’t really get a lot of cooperation from the creamery.”
“They were very frustrated that I even knew anything about the situation,” she said, adding that she can better answer questions in her role when people are cooperative and transparent.
But she said it appears that the creamery’s health protocols have been effective so far.
Winter, the company representative, said the work area in question had been temporarily shut down for cleaning and the company has told all employees about what happened.
“We will continue to provide every measure of support and safety to our team members as we work to get through this pandemic,” he said. “It is for this reason that we conform with, or exceed, all CDC guidelines for the prevention of Covid-19 and will continue to do so.”
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