38 Scott’s Strawberry & Tomato Farms employees test positive for COVID-19

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UNICOI COUNTY, Tenn. (WJHL)- Officials with Scott’s Strawberry & Tomato Farms Inc. released Monday morning that 38 employees have tested positive for the coronavirus.

The announcement came after the company completed employee testing.

Steve Scott, an owner of Scott’s Farms told News Channel 11 Monday an employee was feeling ill last week and was sent to the doctor.

That employee was tested for COVID-19 as a precaution, and received a positive test result last Thursday.

After being notified of that positive test result, company officials tested all employees on Friday morning.

The test results for employees came back on Sunday, where 38 of 119 employees tested positive for COVID-19.

We’re told those members that tested positive will be isolated for at least 10 days, “and contacts will be quarantined for 14 days according to CDC guidelines.”

“I wanted everyone to know that we’re not trying to hide anything, we’re not trying to fool anybody, and we want everybody to know that we’re doing everything we can to guarantee them that when they buy a strawberry from us, it will be safe,” said Scott.

FILE

The release issued Monday also said that Scott’s Farms will temporarily close in order to deep clean and sanitize.

All stands were shut down Monday and officials said employees would not be picking in the fields Monday.

Operations are expected to resume Tuesday or Wednesday.

We’re told only those employees that tested negative for coronavirus will be allowed back at work when operations resume.

Scott assures the public that safety is his number one priority.

“It’s human nature to be afraid but I want people to know we’re going to do everything we need to do. This farm has been here for 62 years. I wouldn’t put anything out there on those stands or out there in the market that I wouldn’t feed myself or anyone in my family,” said Scott.

As far as concerns regarding exposure if you bought Scott’s Strawberries in recent days, health officials say it’s a very low risk, if any at all.

“The Food and Drug Administration says that there’s no evidence of transmission from food or food products or food packaging and also the CDC says there’s a very low risk of transmission from food or food packaging of COVID-19,” said Dr. David Kirschke with the Regional Health Department.

Food City also issued a statement about the confirmed cases Monday afternoon.

“We have received notification from Scott’s Farms that several of their workers have tested positive for COVID-19.  COVID-19 is NOT a foodborne illness and there are NO known transmissions by food or food handlers.  Given that local strawberry season is nearing its end, we have elected to discontinue deliveries of Scott’s strawberries to our stores for the remainder of the season.  We value our partnership with Scott’s Farms and certainly wish their workers all the best for a speedy recovery.”

-K-VA-T Food Stores, Inc.

Continuing coverage of the COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic.

Copyright 2020 Nexstar Broadcasting, Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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