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Employee At Sacramento Blue Diamond Growers Facility Tests Positive For Coronavirus

SACRAMENTO (CBS13) — An employee at Blue Diamond Growers' Sacramento facility has tested positive for the novel coronavirus, the company says.

Blue Diamond says they were informed on Monday that the employee had tested positive.

As a result, the employee was sent home and is now self-quarantined. The employee's workspace and other common areas possibly visited by the employee are also being cleaned and disinfected.

Mark Jansen, president and CEO of Blue Diamond Growers, stressed that his company is following CDC and FDA guidelines to protect employees and their manufacturing process.

"Our dedicated team members literally have been working around the clock to meet increased customer demand for shelf-stable almond products to help feed families impacted by this pandemic," Jansen said.

It's unclear in what capacity the employee work at in the facility.

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The company noted that there has been no evidence of food or food packaging being associated with COVID-19 transmission at this point.

Blue Diamond's facility remains in operation.

Dr. Jeffrey Klausner, an Infectious Disease Expert with UCLA, says you shouldn't be concerned next time you rip into a bag of Blue Diamond Almonds.

"There is no concern with food products there is no evidence of any spread of transmission of COVID-19 with food products. It's just not the way this virus is spread. It's spread through the respiratory route, through close contact with other people," said Dr. Klauser.

The employee, one of more than 1,300 people employed by the company, statewide and Sacramento's biggest food producer.
Leaders with Blue Diamond won't release the team member's position or location.

They released a statement that says co-workers who may have been in close proximity or contact with the employee were informed, sent home and asked to self-quarantine.

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Homeland Security calls agriculture and food supply an essential industry and is exempt from the Governor's and Sacramento County's stay at home order issued last week.

The National Institute Of Health says the coronavirus can be detected on surfaces for days. Including, up to two to three days on plastic and stainless steel.

Dr. Klausner says just because a virus is detected on a surface, doesn't mean it's infectious.

"If the virus is on a surface, it has to have certain conditions to remain infectious on that, it's actually only infectious for a few hours," Dr. Klausner said.

This virus is contagious through only through personal contact. He says there are no food-transmission cases related to COVID-19.

He says with a good, proper clean, there's no need to close down the factory because of this case.

"There is no reason to close down any factory or manufacturing just because an employee has the infection, it's transmitted through close personal contact," he said.

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