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With 31 positives, PrimeX shuts down

PrimeX, the local grower, producer and international trader, has shut down until July 3 after 31 employees tested positive for the Covid-19 virus. A worker first tested positive for the virus on June 10.

After picketers protested outside the company’s facility on Wildwood on June 25 demanding free protective masks, gloves and more information from the company, all workers were sent home that day.

On Thursday, a message on the PrimeX website said, “PrimeX office and warehouse will be closed Monday, June 29, through Friday, July 3, to allow 9our employees time with their families.”

PrimeX owns and farms over 5,000 acres of pistachio orchards in California.

The number of 31 infected employeds “is correct,” PrimeX’s chief operating officer, Mojgan Amin, said in an email Sunday evening. “Since March, we have been checking the temperature of all the employees starting their shift. We require them to follow Center for Disease Control and Prevention quarantine guidelines before they are allowed to come back to work.”

Amin denied in the email that workers at the company had gone on strike. “A few days ago, around ten of our employees were practicing their right to have their voices heard. We have listened and will continue to listen to their voices.”

Amin added that the company has already been providing face coverings, gloves, sanitation supplies and training on how to prevent the spread of COVID-19, as well as disinfecting materials. She also said PrimeX has been communicating with all their employees since early March. “This is not a new practice,” she said.

“Again, no strike has taken place,” Amin said. “Not a single employee walked out nor participated in a work stoppage and no one has definitely participated in a strike.”

In addition to the pistachio orchards, PrimeX markets nuts (pistachios and cashews as well as dried fruit, such as raisins.

PrimeX became the first Pistachio farm to go solar and prides itself on maintaining a “green” environment.

Amin said the following steps will be taken:

A professional 27-person team wearing HazMat suits will be rolling out the Anti-Covid-19 spreading protocols.

◾ Among other methods and techniques for deep cleaning and sanitation, this team will be using a process known as Liquid Atomization. This process is used to sanitize the area, previously cleaned equipment and environment that liquid sanitation solutions alone cannot reach.

◾ Once the sanitation has been completed, the company will be using a process known as ATP Bacterial Testing (Adenosine TriPhosphate), which measures the metabolic activity of a molecule to identify the presence of any remaining microbes.

◾ Once the ATP testing is completed and PrimeX can meet the state and federal guidelines and food safety certification, Safety Food Quality Level 3 (SFQ) levels, which are the highest standards for food quality and safety, the company will then be one critical step away from re-opening the plant.

◾ The company will also have a mobile FDA-approved rapid Covid-19 testing unit set up in the facility to test every employee.

“Employees who test negative will be allowed to start working in our facility that will be completely sanitized and free of SARS-CoV-2 (Covid-19),” Amin said. “Employees who test positive will be required to follow the CDC quarantine guidelines.”


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