COVID-19 Update

CDC/ Alissa Eckert, MS; Dan Higgins, MAMS

A forklift operator at one of the largest employers in Lodi has tested positive for COVID-19, the company confirmed Tuesday.

Mona Shulman, human resources director at Pacific Coast Producers, said the male employee had been out sick for the last week and notified the company on Sunday that he had tested positive.

The employee works in the company’s distribution center on Guild Avenue, and all employees assigned to that location were interviewed this week, she said.

It was determined that two other employees at the site might have been exposed to the virus while working with their co-worker, and they were advised to stay home for at least six days, Shulman said.

“As far as we know, both of them are fine,” she said Tuesday.

Since the COVID-19 pandemic began, Shulman said the company, which employs nearly 1,300 workers, has implemented a variety of safety measures recommended by both the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and Occupational Safety Hazard Association at all three of its sites in Lodi.

“We enforced social distancing at our distribution center, and it was already pretty easy to do,” she said. “You have someone on the forklift, they’re not going to be getting close to someone, and the machine operators are already spaced out enough. We didn’t have masks required because we didn’t think it was necessary.”

However, Shulman said employees at the distribution center have been told that if it is necessary to work in close proximity to one another, they must wear masks.

Some 400 employees are assigned to the distribution center over two shifts, she said.

Employees at the company’s cannery at Stockton and Tokay streets are required to wear masks, she said, and are prohibited from entering the site as a group. There are 700 employees in three shifts at the cannery, Shulman said, and they are required to social distance as they wait for entry into the building.

All employees are screened for temperatures and symptoms when they arrive for work, and portable sanitation stations are located throughout all three sites, she said, including lunch rooms and break rooms.

In addition, signage has been posted in various places reminding employees to social distance and wash their hands, and lunches are staggered to prevent congregating.

All visitors are required to wear masks as well, Shulman said.

“There are a lot of things we’re doing to be safe,” she said. “We’re just trying to keep people healthy, because we now have fresh fruit coming in and we need to process it and get it out to the community, and we don’t want anyone getting sick.”

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