Grand Forks Simplot employee tests positive for COVID-19


The following statement is from the JR Simplot Company: The J.R. Simplot Company learned Friday, April 24, that one of its employees at its potato processing plant in Grand Forks tested positive for COVID-19 (coronavirus). We have confirmed that the employee lives with an individual who previously tested positive, and at this point, we have not been notified of any other confirmed positive test of an employee of Simplot’s Grand Forks plant. The Company had closed its plant at 6 a.m. on April 22 to perform maintenance and cleaning. The planned shutdown was originally scheduled for May 7, but the Company moved up the date to align with other efforts in Grand Forks to slow the spread and impact of COVID-19.

The safety of our employees, customers and the communities where we operate is Simplot’s highest priority. Our thoughts are with our employee, their family and everyone impacted by this virus. We are working closely with local health authorities and following the proactive procedures developed to address a COVID-19 positive test. Simplot worked with the employee to identify any coworkers who may have been exposed and notified those individuals and provided guidance for how to identify symptoms, their access to testing and other considerations. 

Because plant employees are not on site at this time, we are working to notify the remaining workforce of this positive test and our associated actions with a mailing to their homes. We are also notifying the media, so that the message gets to our employees quickly and they can continue to be aggressive about self-monitoring for COVID-19 symptoms.

Here are the immediate actions we have taken to protect the health and safety of all of our employees, business partners and the greater Grand Forks community:

  • Self-quarantine of the affected employee

  • Following CDC guidelines and local health authority directives for all employees who came into contact with the affected employee

  • Implementation of thorough sanitation plans for facility, including deep cleaning of all work areas, in compliance with FDA, CDC and local health authority requirements

  • Direct notification to all employees who have been identified as potentially coming in direct contact with this individual at the plant

Employee health and safety is vitally important to us and we will continue to take aggressive steps to decrease the risk of our employees coming into contact with the virus. We have asked all employees to self-monitor for signs of COVID-19. The Grand Forks plant is currently scheduled to start up again on May 7. We will continue to monitor this situation in Grand Forks and will use the safety of our employees, partners and the community to guide our plans. When we do start back up, we will continue our aggressive efforts to combat the virus, including temperature testing of all individuals entering the facility, staggered breaks, enhanced cleaning practices and the availability of masks for employees and essential visitors.

The FDA, the CDC and other national and international regulatory organizations have said there is no evidence that the COVID-19 can be transmitted through food, and there have been no cases of the virus in the United States associated with food.