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Pacific Seafood Covid-19 outbreak due to out-of-state workers, former employees say

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Pacific Seafood outbreak
Pacific Seafood was shut down Sunday afternoon when Homepage took this photo (Photo by Justin Werner)

NEWPORT – Former employees from Pacific Seafood in Newport say the COVID-19 outbreak happening now is due to the importation of workers from California, which they say has resulted in 124 confirmed cases as of Sunday, June 7.

James Nelson, a 10-year veteran at Pacific Seafood, said he had to quit his job May 8, “due to the COVID-19 virus,” and said he was forced to resign after expressing concern over the company bringing in “100+ migrant workers” from California to process seafood in Newport.

Nelson said he would not put his family’s safety in jeopardy because implanting workers from a more contaminated area was too dangerous. He brought his concerns to managerial staff and said some had their own concerns, but they told him the higher-ups made the decisions.

Nelson said Pacific Seafood told him he was “scared of the virus” and would not hold his job or rate of pay in the future. Nelson further alleges the company would not lay him off and told him he must resign, which has made his filing for unemployment difficult.

“Leaving my job was the right move because corporations don’t care about the working class,” he said. “The worst part to me is that I’ve known these people for years and they couldn’t be bothered to even seem like they cared. But I guess late is better than never to realize it was a dead-end gig.”

Pacific Seafood is the subject of a major COVID-19 outbreak, with testing being deployed by Lincoln County Public Health, who reported 65 cases at the seafood plant Sunday morning.

In a press release issued today, Pacific Seafood said 376 workers at their five Newport facilities were tested for COVID-19 and 53 Pacific Seafood team members and 71 locally-based contractors have tested positive for a total of 124 confirmed cases.

From the release:

The vast majority, 95 percent, did not report any symptoms and none of our workers have been hospitalized. All international, seasonal workers have tested negative for COVID-19 and have not yet started work in any of the facilities. Oregon Health Authority indicates the risk to the general public is low.

Operations remain suspended for the time being at all five locations, including Pacific Whiting, Pacific Shrimp, Pacific Fillet, Pacific Surimi, and Pacific Bio Products. We look forward to resuming operation at all facilities as soon as we are able to confirm the safety of our team members, fleet, and community. We will be performing detailed contract tracing to inform those decisions. Initial results show that positive tests are concentrated at the Pacific Shrimp processing facility location.

Public Health officials said they are working with Pacific Seafood and Oregon Health Authority to notify all those who are confirmed positive and to trace contact with other positive cases.

A former employee of Pacific Seafood, who wishes to remain anonymous, told Homepage Sunday afternoon:

“I don’t understand why they would bring people from another state — where the volume of COVID-19 is so high — into our community.”

He said Pacific Seafood rented rooms in at least two Newport hotels for the imported workers and said they were living in close proximity to one another and were not practicing social distancing.

The former employee said the company hiring workers from outside the state is a slap in the face to locals, who need those jobs. “It’s even worse because they brought the virus with them,” he said.

Pacific Seafood said they are committed to mitigating asymptomatic spread of COVID-19 and will start requiring advanced testing of all team members and contractors in Newport. The seafood company said it will resume protocols that go above and beyond current CDC guidelines:

Lincoln County Public Health plans to hold a joint press conference with the Oregon Health Authority via the web at 1 p.m. Monday. The public can view it live on YouTube.

Justin Werner
I'm publisher of Lincoln City Homepage. Also the web guy, photographer, cameraman, video editor, sportswriter, tech support, beat reporter, cat trainer and e-bike enthusiast. I have a passion for telling people's stories and keeping my fellow citizens informed.

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  1. Myself and my friend went to work out in Newport for crab season November 2020. We were tested and quarantined for 2 weeks.
    When we finally got to work the employees were mean and nasty to us. We went there to work because locals are not interested in working for them. Recruiters had no more people from Oregon to fill the jobs. We were treated like outsiders when we were born and raised american citizens. Go figure that one out. I wonder how the founder of this company would feel about how employees are treated and how quickly turnover is in HR. That costs more money for a company! Founders of Companies don’t like spending more than they have to! That’s less profitable.

  2. As long as all these infected workers have not all been contact traced and all those contacts themselves tested, they are going to be out potentially spreading C-19. Pacific Seafood should have to pay for and provide all the additional testing needed to identify and isolate these people because of their actions with hiring contract workers that according to OPB are difficult to contact trace because of language barriers. The longer infected people connected to these infected workers are out and about in the community, the more infection will be happening here. I refuse to grocery shop in Newport because it is a risk now. Check out

  3. Kevin you are a bigot on all levels. You VOTE racist! You post racist, You support a racist Pig for President. And you get defensive when called out and cast everyone else as racist! Go crawl back into your Manufactured 2 flagged fort Kevin! Maybe someday Lincoln City will get lucky and somebody will run the stop sign on coast.

  4. I guess it would have been too much to ask that these imported workers get tested before they were put to work.
    These cases alone kept us from moving to Phase ll.

  5. Beginning in the 14th C there were plague doctors who treated those suffering from the bubonic plague…ergo Plaguedoc. A man with your “extensive vocabulary” should know that. It’s irony. A moniker highlighting the hysterical response to Covid-19. Anyway I think after the pummeling you have taken today you might be wise to tap out.

  6. So let me get this straight Kevin. The father of your niece and nephew is black so… That proves you’re not a racist. O.K.

  7. you weirdos sure pick some bizarre aliases. What’s a plaquedoc anyway?
    Make sure and wash that thermometer before you stick it in your mouth.
    you don’t know anything about me. Maybe the next time I visit my niece
    and nephew, I’ll ask them how racist they think I am, their father is black.
    All you loser leftwing whackjobs have is calling other people racist, and telling them how to think, you’re about as intelligent as liveinfear, isn’t
    that what stupid people do? Pick apart little things to build themselves
    up, don’t let any paper bags land on your head, I doubt you’d be able to
    get out. Nobody strikes a nerve with me, I dislike all of you equally, because you’re equally moronic.

  8. Yes PickyC, you can and do spell anyway you like. I admire that. Wasn’t it Hobbs who said, “foolish consistency is the hobgoblin of small minds”.
    Carry on.

  9. You just can’t stop from showing your true colors!!!!I can spell anyway I want!!!Get a life!!!Or maybe you need to work at the Pacific Seafood plant in Newport.

  10. Pickycarol, You need to rework your sentence structure. There needs to be a space between the comma and how. Also, I think it would sound better to say, “often use” the racist card instead of “always claim”. I think that works better. Also I think you mean don’t for “do not”. Now that I think about it maybe you should pick a new handle.

  11. Plague Doc,how easy it is for uneducated people to always claim the racist card when we dont agree with you!!!

  12. Wow Kev, looks like livininfear struck a nerve. He wasn’t exactly calling you a racist but hey, if the shoe fits…

  13. Hey- liveinfear- what are you? Some know it all teacher?
    I have an extensive vocabulary and don’t need to look up anything.
    I know about “ologies” that you haven’t even heard of, so if you’d
    like, I’ll tell you where to stick your dictionary and how long you can leave it there.
    Maybe when you live in fear, you need to put others down to make your
    life worthwhile, maybe your garage is full of “repent” and “the world is ending” signs.

  14. Don’t you dare call me racist. You don’t know anything about me.
    Let me explain it to you.
    Anyone who is for open borders and imported workers from anywhere
    is a racist.
    Let me explain your hypocrisy.
    You and your kids don’t want to do unpleasant or difficult jobs, so let’s
    bring in some under educated persons from other countries to do the work that Americans don’t want to do.
    That’s racist.

  15. I don’t see why many people would be unemployed due to not moving to phase 2, maybe church workers. Most states opened retail first, restaurants with limited capacity second, and bars etc. with limited capacity for their third phase. The governor opened up everything at once, with re-arranging tables in bars and restaurants for 6 feet, which is probably not much less than it would be normally. She is also allowing counties who do not qualify for phase 2 to open up anyway. She is a bit too proud of (our) accomplishments in my opinion. Lincoln County had tripled or even quadrupled its case load since reopening before the seafood plant outbreak.

  16. Well for starts international workers are not california workers! (unless international has a new meaning) California workers are probably some of the team workers or something sort of like that. Be carful what you read put out from Pacific Food, there covering there fanny’s!

    It’s like a Trump Tweet, you have to fat check it inside and out!

  17. But it says, “All international, seasonal workers have tested negative for COVID-19 and have not yet started work in any of the facilities. Oregon Health Authority indicates the risk to the general public is low.”. I’m confused. Ex-employee is pointing fingers at CA transplants, but the article states they’ve all tested negative? Hmmm. I think this is more of a general problem with meat packing plants, not who’s working there.

  18. Do you honestly believe that this meat processor is any different than any other that has had an outbreak? Meat processors across the country and globe have had the same exact things happen due to the nature of the business. What would happen if every meat processor shut down? What if every seafood processor decided to move their business out of your small, typically financially strapped, coastal communities? Pretty darn sure we would hear outrage at that as well. This isn’t any one person or companies fault and provoking people to be angry with a company for this is ridiculous. Displacing anger is a waste of energy that you could be using on helping the community.

  19. “California migrant workers”, “imported workers” these are all euphemisms (look it up Kev) for Hispanics. I guess its ok to be xenophobic (look it up Jeep) and racist as long as you pick on the right minority.

  20. So much for “Phase 2” reopening. Guess I’ll just sit here on unemployment for another 6 months to a year. Thanks California “Migrant workers”.

  21. Just the same, the owner is a greedy, inconsiderate prick. He’s more than tripled the number of county confirmed cases by importing labor, if that means anything. This isn’t quite over, I wish it was.
    Yes, I’d be one of your at risk snowflakes, but a proud deplorable is my preference.

  22. When I was younger, I worked in the fields at a nursery, I worked long days in a strawberry processing plant, then I worked in the food service
    industry, every day, all day. Then I worked for a construction company,
    10 and 12 hours a day roofing, until I started my own business .
    That’s why they bring in workers that will do what they’re told to, nowadays, kids think they’ll be rappers, or youtube stars, or sit on their
    butts punching a keyboard, or be professional college students.
    I hate the state of the construction industry right now, I see it right across the street, and it’s sick, it’s your fault for letting your kids slack,
    and you’ll all pay for it later.

  23. Could those “imported workers” possibly be Hispanic? Sounds like Jimmy and crew have some other issues besides covid. Good thing there’s folks out there great full to do Jimmys “Dead end” job.

  24. 95 percent showed no symptoms and none were hospitalized. Out of 4 million Oregonians 150 fatalities yet you snowflakes pretend its the plague. How bout we “lock up” the at risk and let everyone else out of jail.

  25. Use some common sense people. They bring the workers in because the people here won’t do the work. When the season is at its’ peak, they work 12 hour shifts 7 days a week. They would gladly hire locals rather than bring people in and put them in a hotel all season long. It would save them money.


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