Washington state's Clark County delays phase 2 reopening after coronavirus outbreak at food processing plant

Posted at 12:54 PM, May 24, 2020
and last updated 2020-05-24 14:54:49-04

An outbreak of coronavirus cases at a food processing plant in Washington state has put a temporary halt to Clark County's plans to enter phase 2 of the state's reopening plan. According to Clark County Public Health, 38 workers at Firestone Pacific Foods in Vancouver have tested positive for COVID-19 so far.

The plant was ordered to temporarily shut down last Tuesday, according to CBS News affiliate KOIN. One worker has been hospitalized. Every employee at the facility will be tested for the coronavirus, a process which began Friday, KOIN reports.

The county's petition to enter phase 2 of reopening will be discussed next week.

So far, 21 counties in Washington have been approved to begin phase 2, CBS News affiliate KIRO reports.

Phase 2 of Governor Jay Inslee's plan for reopening includes restaurants operating at a maximum of 50% capacity with no more than five people at a table. Hair salons, nail salons and barber shops may also operate at 50% capacity. Outdoor activities involving no more than five people are permitted.

One of the criteria for counties in Washington applying to move to phase 2 was to record an average of fewer than 10 new cases per 100,000 people for a two-week period, according to KIRO. Counties can be moved back to phase 1 or put back on full lockdown should things get worse during phase 2.

Washington has over 19,200 confirmed cases and at least 1,050 people have died, according to data from Johns Hopkins Coronavirus Resource Center.

Food processing plants have emerged as hotspots for the coronavirus outbreak in several states. Nearly 600 workers at a Tyson chicken plant in North Carolina tested positive for COVID-19 after the plant reopened following a deep cleaning.

In Texas, testing at meatpacking plants in the Panhandle was greatly increased, which contributed to a large spike in confirmed cases last week.