COVID-19 cases rise in Maple Leafs Foods plant in Brandon, Man.
TORONTO -- By Monday’s shift change, workers at Brandon’s biggest employer, food processing company Maple Leaf Foods, learned that four more employees had tested positive for COVID-19.
One worker’s opinion? “Shut it down before somebody gets killed.”
Workers say there are around 22 cases already among employees.
This comes just days after the CEO of the company admitted in a statement that there were 10 cases among the workers at the Brandon plant.
Officials say there’s no evidence any of the workers contracted the virus inside the facility itself. Still, the union is calling for a temporary shutdown at the plant, and mandatory testing.
“Let’s get everyone tested and the results back before we have people back in the plant so we can isolate those situations,” Paul Meinema, president of the United Food and Commercial Workers union.
Despite the growing fear, there are few options for families struggling to get by. One man spoke to CTV News on behalf of his wife, who works at the plant.
“I could see she was not sleeping at night,” he told CTV News. “She worried not to quit her job, and then she worried not to get the virus.”
And it’s a growing concern beyond Maple Leaf.
Manitoba’s second-largest city, Brandon, now has 64 positive cases. Testing facilities are maxed out. Today, it was more than a four hour wait.
COVID-19 has shuttered a handful of businesses. Others are restricting access and mandating masks as cases climb.
“It’s definitely taken a turn here in the last week, but I think as a business community as a whole, we’ve done an excellent job trying to flatten the curve like it was a few months back,” said Spencer Day, with the Brandon Chamber of Commerce.
Even a few weeks back, things were different.
In mid-July, Manitoba had just one COVID-19 case, but as summer travel increased, there was a spike.
Brandon’s problems may have come from down the highway.
“There was one such case that was early on in that cluster [that] was linked to a traveller from out east,” Dr. Brent Roussin, Manitoba’s Chief Public Health Officer said.
As Maple Leaf’s union calls for mandatory testing, Brandon is asking for more capacity.
Another testing facility will open here at the city’s largest arena tomorrow.