Dozens of Seafood Workers Test Positive for COVID-19

Source: John/123RF

Just as the summer season ramps up, seafood workers are among the latest victims of COVID-19.

NPR reports that Seattle-based American Seafoods confirmed that 92 crew from its American Dynasty ship had tested positive for COVID-19, nearly three-fourths of the 126 people on board.

There have been other COVID-19 cases among seafood workers in Alaska, where thousands have traveled from out of state for the world’s largest salmon fishery.

Some called for canceling this year’s season, but the state pushed ahead with a range of new measures.

The American Dynasty, which is 30 feet shorter than a football field, had been fishing for hake before coming into port in Washington. A crew member reported feeling sick, then was taken ashore and tested positive for COVID-19, American Seafoods said in a statement.

A day later, the company reported another 85 cases, plus six more Thursday. Late Thursday evening, county health officials elsewhere in Washington reported that 25 crew members on two other American Seafoods vessels had also tested positive for COVID-19.

American Seafoods’ primary investor is the New York-based private equity firm Bregal Partners. It’s one of the biggest players in the billion-dollar fishery for Alaska pollock, which goes into products like McDonald’s Filet-O-Fish sandwiches.

American Seafoods even tested its workers before they were allowed on board for the hake fishery, but its minimum advance quarantine was only five days. It is understood that the virus can take anywhere from 7 to 14 days to incubate and cause a person to show symptoms.

This situation has raised concerns among other officials in the industry, noting that if five days quarantine could still mean an outbreak, they might have to really reconsider their safety protocols for workers.

An American Seafoods spokeswoman, Suzanne Lagoni, says the company has since lengthened its required quarantine to 14 days.