Officials with OBI Seafoods LLC say that preseason testing of its workforce for the upcoming Tanner and golden king crab fishery in Petersburg, Alaska, confirmed one positive case of the novel coronavirus. OBI Seafoods said that the infected individual was immediately isolated and that other employees who might have been in contact with the infected person were identified for additional testing and quarantine.
The company has hired a completely local workforce for this fishery, which begins on Feb. 17.
In addition to preseason screening, OBI Seafoods said plans are to continue testing at regular intervals during the season, as mandated by the state.
The company is working closely with the local medical team and public health officials to identify any further quarantine and testing recommendations, initiate contact tracing, and identify any potential risks to the individuals and the community.
Mark Palmer, chief executive officer of OBI, said they are glad to see that their preseason screening protocols were able to identify this asymptomatic positive case before the season began, so that the individual could be isolated and minimize possible spread of the virus.
Preseason testing and isolation of employees who test positive for COVID-19 is considered an important step in reducing the spread of the virus.
Company officials said that as they continue operating in an unprecedented pandemic and learn more about COVID-19 that they are updating their existing plans and protocols to protect their employees and the communities they work in.
All employees will undergo daily symptom and temperature checks prior to entering the worksite and periodic continuous screening testing, in compliance with state health mandates. OBI said that all of its locations have adopted heightened standards for cleaning and sanitation, and all employees are trained on enhanced personal protective equipment protocols and personal hygiene practices.
OBI Seafoods was formed in 2020 through the merger of the Alaska salmon and Gulf of Alaska groundfish operations of Ocean Beauty Seafoods and Icicle Seafoods, two of the oldest seafood companies in Alaska. OBI operates 10 processing plants in Alaska and is a leading producer of fresh, frozen and canned Alaska seafood. OBI’s ownership includes Cooke Seafood and the Bristol Bay Economic Development Corp., a community development quota group based in Dillingham that supports economic development in the villages of Southwest Alaska.