Workers pass through a health screening tent at the entrance of the former Lepage Bakeries in Lewiston on April 1. One worker has tested positive for COVID-19 and others who had contact with them are self-quarantining, according to company officials. Russ Dillingham/Sun Journal file photo Buy this Photo

LEWISTON — Flowers Bakeries has asked employees to self-quarantine if they came in contact with a worker who tested positive for COVID-19, and said there’s “24/7 wellness screening of everyone entering” the massive Park Street bakery.

“We have taken all necessary precautions to ensure the safety of our team members,” spokesman Peter Roy said Tuesday, including “daily enhanced sanitation of common areas and frequently touched surfaces and providing face masks.”

Flowers Bakeries’ parent company, Flowers Foods, bought the former Lepage Bakeries in 2012. It bakes brands such as Country Kitchen, Nature’s Own and Dave’s Killer Bread.

On Tuesday, it was unclear how many people worked there.

Roy said the company is following all recommended sanitation and containment guidelines from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the U.S. Food and Drug Administration and has been in touch with local health authorities for guidance.

“As a food company, we take seriously our responsibility to deliver safe, quality products to the marketplace,” he said. “With all the challenges being faced, our team is doing a great job and we are very proud of them.”

Face masks are being made available for those who want to wear them, Roy said, and employees are being reminded about the basics: frequent hand-washing, not touching their face, social distancing and not coming to work if they’re sick.

He said production has not been impacted at the plant.

Maine CDC spokesman Robert Long said he could not comment on a specific case, but “in general, if an individual tests positive, Maine CDC would do an epidemiological investigation, including contact tracing, to determine if people who came in close contact with the individual should quarantine. Those investigations often involve working with the individual’s employer to take steps to minimize risk of exposure among co-workers.”

Earlier this month, Flowers Foods gave $500 and $250 bonuses to 11,757 employees and temporary workers in “recognition of the extraordinary efforts of these workers during the COVID-19 pandemic as the company’s 46 bakeries operate non-stop to produce bakery foods.”

It also noted at the time the start of emergency COVID-19 leave and short-term disability policies for employees.

Flowers Foods temporarily closed a bakery April 14 in Tucker, Georgia, “following an increase in the number of confirmed COVID-19 cases at the bakery as well as self-quarantining over the past few days,” according to a news release. “This increase occurred despite precautionary measures already in place, including wellness and recently-implemented temperature screenings for everyone entering the facility, enhanced daily sanitation and cleaning of commonly used areas and frequently touched surfaces, and required self-quarantining for those having close contact with a confirmed case or otherwise exhibiting symptoms of COVID-19.”

It was expected to reopen this week.


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