Merced County health authorities have ordered a Foster Farms poultry processing plant to shut down in an attempt to halt a COVID-19 outbreak that has claimed the lives of eight workers so far.
The county's Department of Public Health issued the order Wednesday and announced it publicly in a statement Thursday, saying the outbreak at the plant in the town of Livingston is “the most severe and long-lasting” in hard-hit Merced County.
The county said enforcement of the order would be stayed for 48 hours “to help facilitate logistics” associated with the closure.
The health department said the facility, which normally employs about 3,500 people, should remain closed until the company undertakes steps to ensure it can reopen safely.
The county says 358 workers at the plant have tested positive for the coronavirus to date, though it added that number is based on employees who have chosen to get tested and voluntarily reported results to the company. "The true spread of COVID-19 in the Foster Farms Livingston facility remains unknown," the county's statement said.