All three of the food plants closed over the weekend for alleged violations related to COVID-19 have now been allowed to re-open -- though not all of the ill employees have recovered, and at least one has died.
Not only is a family patriarch who worked at Mission Foods ill with coronavirus, but so are his wife and other family members. The couple's daughter is beside herself.
"It's very hard because at this moment you cannot do anything to help your parents. You cannot even help him," Yanet Hernandez said.
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She does not know how both of her parents and other family members contracted the virus.
Her father Teodor had worked for three decades at the Mission Foods plant in Commerce, until earlier this month when he reported for his usual night shift, and underwent the health check at the gate.
"At that moment, when they took his temperature he did have a fever and he was sent home,” Hernandez said.
Hernandez said that besides fever, her dad also began suffering chills and soon had to be hospitalized with COVID-19.
"My dad is currently in ICU. He was put on a ventilator on Sunday,” she said. Hernandez said her father had been aware that other workers had come down with the virus -- a total of 40 according to the county.
Mission Foods also confirmed the death of another worker, 67-year-old Jose Roberto Alvarez.
“I lost my dad and if this could’ve been prevented, I would have done it,” Alysha Alvarez, his daughter, said.
Workplaces are required to report more than three cases, but LA County Public Health says it had not been notified when it got tips about Mission Foods and two other food processing plants. Inspections led to a finding of 146 COVID-19 cases at the three plants.
All shut down but were permitted to reopen this week.
"We expect our businesses to uphold our order and protect the health of their employees," Dr. Muntu Davis, LA County Public Health Officer, said.
Mission expressed its sadness at the death, and today stated: “We want to express how much we value the contributions of all of our employees nationwide and how we are committed to protecting their health and safety… we’ve taken a range of decisive companywide measures exceeding the requirements of the health authorities.”
Mission Foods also said employees concerned with being at risk for severe coronavirus are encouraged to take leaves of absence, so several now are on extended leave. Employees who have tested positive or show symptoms are also required to stay home until cleared to return, with two weeks of paid leave.