ALAMOSA – The Colorado Mushroom Farm has confirmed that 11 of their employees tested positive for the COVID-19 virus. In a statement, management at the mushroom farm said they learned of the positive test results on May 6. “Colorado Mushroom Farm management was sad to find out that 11 of 100 farm employees were tested positive with coronavirus. All of these employees belonged to a picking crew and worked together,” according to the statement.
“We, at the mushroom farm feel the pain of these employees and their families. We pray for their speedy recovery.” The company said it learned on May 1 that the spouse of a picker, who worked at a different business, tested positive with COVID-19. The subject employee was instructed to go home and contact the Alamosa County Public Health Department.
Management said it moved quickly, wasting no time to work with the health department to schedule all of crew members for testing. Those crew members were advised to stay home until were tested.
“Safety and security of our employees is the top priority of farm management. Since March 17, 2020, the farm has been proactive and taking preventive measures to keep COVID-19 out of the facility and providing a safe working environment for our employees,” the management of Colorado Mushrooms said. According to the statement, the farm has followed a program developed in conjunction with Alamosa County Public Health Department (ACPHD) to keep the facility hygienically clean. The guidelines for the program came from the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment (CDPHE), the ACPHD and “COVID-19 Pandemic Procedures for Cleaning, Disinfection and Hygienic Protocols for the Food Industry.”
Farm management said the program was implemented on March 17, immediately after it was approved by ACPHD and has been religiously following as prepared by the farm’s food safety team and approved by ACPHD. Under the program, employees are required to wear appropriate face masks and gloves, and wash hands as often as practical. Lunch breaks are staggered to ensure employees meet a criteria of only 10 people in the cafeteria and maintaining a distance of six feet between one another.
The employees have also been encouraged to take lunch breaks in their cars. Other safety measures taken by the farm and workers include cleaning doorknobs, countertops and all surfaces that are routinely touched. Floors are washed and sanitized daily. The company’s food safety team randomly checks employee temperatures and CPDHE guidance posters for Public Health Order 20-22 are posted across the facility to spread awareness of the do’s and don’ts to tackle COVID-19.
“The food safety team has been making sure that the program is being enforced and guidelines for separation, assembly, cleaning surfaces and hand washing are being followed,” according to the company’s statement. COVID-19 is believed to be transmitted through personto-person contact or by contact with surfaces contaminated with the virus. Wearing a face mask and practicing social distancing are considered best practices to prevent the spread of the virus.
The management of Colorado Mushroom Farm assured there is no evidence of food or food packaging being associated with the transmission of COVID-19 and that all company employees are to be tested for the virus by the Alamosa County Public Health Department. “The management is committed to taking any action needed to ensure that the farm facility offers a hygienically safe environment to its employees,” according to the company’s statement.