Frito-Lay plant in Vancouver shut down by COVID-19 outbreak

The company said it plans to restart partial operations by Tuesday evening

VANCOUVER — An outbreak of COVID-19 among employees at the Frito-Lay plant in Vancouver prompted the facility to shut down last week.

A Nov. 25 memo sent to employees of the facility on Fruit Valley Road and obtained by Clark County Today noted “an increased number of positive cases in our facility within the past 14 days.”

The Frito-Lay plant on Fruit Valley Road in Vancouver was closed Nov. 25 following an outbreak of COVID-19 amongst employees. Photo copyright 2019, Google Street View
The Frito-Lay plant on Fruit Valley Road in Vancouver was closed Nov. 25 following an outbreak of COVID-19 amongst employees. Photo copyright 2019, Google Street View

“We can confirm that a limited number of employees at our Vancouver, Wash., Frito-Lay facility have tested positive for COVID-19 within the past 14 days,” the company confirmed in an emailed statement. “In accordance with guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and other health authorities, the employees are being quarantined and have been advised to seek medical attention.”

Frito-Lay did not disclose how many employees had tested positive. Clark County Public Health confirmed the closure, and that they are working with the company.

While the memo said “we are asking all employees to quarantine for 14 days (starting with the last day you were on site,” the company statement noted partial operations were set to resume Tuesday evening following a deep cleaning of the facility.

“We continue to enforce already strict preventive safety and sanitation measures including symptoms screening, temperature checks, providing necessary PPE for employees and operating in line with guidance from the CDC and other health authorities at all our facilities including the Vancouver plant.”

Frito-Lay says employees are being encouraged to monitor their health and seek medical treatment if they began experiencing symptoms. Anyone forced to quarantine would receive full pay for any hours missed, the company said.

The Vancouver Frito-Lay plant opened in 1972 and is one of the company’s largest producers of chips and other snacks. The facility employees approximately 460 people.

Clark County Public Health said Tuesday that the number of COVID-19 cases since the start of the pandemic had reached 8,908. Nine more deaths were reported, bringing the total to 100. Several of those deaths likely happened over the long holiday weekend, but went unreported until this week.

The rate of new cases also rose again, from 359.26 per 100,000 people over the two weeks ending Nov. 23, to 427.64 cases per 100,000 people for the 14-days ending Nov. 30.

Hospitalizations on Tuesday were at 12.9 percent of total licensed bed space, with 77 confirmed and four suspected cases currently in Clark County hospitals.

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About The Author

Chris Brown comes to Clark County Today with 15 years of local news experience as a reporter, editor, and anchor at KXL News Radio and KOIN-6 TV in Portland. In 2016, he won an Oregon Association of Broadcaster's award for Best Investigative Reporting for a series on America's Violent Youth. He has also been awarded by the Associated Press for Best Breaking News coverage as editor of Portland's Morning News following the 2015 school shooting at Umpqua Community College in Roseburg, Oregon. The second oldest of eight home-schooled children, Brown graduated from high school two years early. After several odd jobs, he earned an internship at KXL Radio, eventually working his way into a full-time job. Brown has lived in Clark County his entire life, and is very excited at the opportunity to now focus full-time on the significant stories happening in his own back yard, rather than across “the river.’’ After a few years in Vancouver, he recently moved back to Battle Ground with his wife and two young daughters. When he's not working to report what's happening in Clark County, Brown enjoys spending time with his family, playing music, taking pictures, or working in the yard. He also actually does enjoy long walks on the beach, and sunsets.

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