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COVID-19 strikes Southeast Texas Food Bank; organizers address food safety

BEAUMONT — The outbreak of COVID-19 has impacted at least five people involved with The Southeast Texas Food Bank, officials announced Sunday evening.

A statement from Dan Maher, president/CEO of the food bank, said “until this week, we had not had any known cases of COVID-19 among staff members or volunteers, but this week, we had our first staff member test positive for the coronavirus.”

As a measure to assess staff and public safety, all staff were mandated for COVID-19 screening.

“That has resulted in identification of four other positive cases (Sunday),” Maher said. “All those staff will be quarantined, and any other staff that does not yet have a negative test result will not be permitted to enter the workplace until they can demonstrate that status.”

All volunteers who have worked at the Food Bank within the past two weeks are receiving direct communication of the news separately from the media statement, Maher said, along with guidance from MD Anderson’s website to help assess if they think they should be tested.

“Though we have frequently cleaned and sanitized common spaces throughout the COVID-19 crisis, we thoroughly sanitized our entire facility after the first staff case came to light and will continue to do so frequently as an additional precaution at the present time,” Maher said.

According to Maher, the food bank’s cleaning methods for food are safe, “and since COVID-19 is not a food borne virus, this presence of the virus among staff does not compromise the food commodities shared with the public.”