LIVINGSTON, Calif. (KSEE/KGPE) — The Merced County Department of Public Health (MCDPH) has ordered the Foster Farms Poultry Processing Plant in Livingston to close until the plant is able to reopen safely due to COVID-19 outbreak.

Officials say the most severe and long-lasting outbreak in Merced County is at the Foster Farms Livingston Facility and has been declared an outbreak since June 29.

“If we’re going to keep food on our tables during this pandemic, we must do a better job of protecting the essential workers who are putting it there. That means standing up for the people in our poultry facilities, agricultural fields, meat processing plants, restaurants, grocery stores, and more,” said California Attorney General Xavier Becerra. “Foster Farms’ poultry operation in Livingston, California has experienced an alarming spread of COVID-19 among its workers. Nobody can ignore the facts: It’s time to hit the reset button on Foster Farms’ Livingston plant.”

There are 358 employees who have tested positive and the true spread of COVID-19 in the facility remains unknown, according to health officials.

“In view of increasing deaths and uncontrolled COVID-19 cases, the decision was made to order the
Livingston Plant within the Foster Farms Livingston Complex closed until acceptable safety measures are in place,” said Dr. Salvador Sandoval, Merced County’s Public Health Officer.

“Our charge is to protect the public’s health, even in the face of difficult decisions. The closure of this plant is the only way to get the outbreak at Foster Farms swiftly under control. Our hearts are with the eight families who have lost a loved one.”

Officials also said that eight employees in the facility have died due to COVID-19 throughout the course of the current outbreak.

Temporarily shutting down a food production facility is the last option available in getting this outbreak under control, according to the Department of Public Health.