Investigation underway into death of 2 Mission Foods workers who tested positive for COVID-19

The Commerce facility was one of three food-processing facilities in Los Angeles County that was ordered to temporarily shut down after it saw outbreaks of COVID-19 cases among employees.
COMMERCE, Calif. (KABC) -- An investigation is underway following the death of two employees of Mission Foods, one of three food-processing facilities in Los Angeles County ordered to temporarily shut down after outbreaks of COVID-19.

Alisha Alvarez had identified one of the workers who died as her 67-year-old father, Jose Alvarez. He was one of more than 40 workers who tested positive for the virus at the Commerce facility.

In late June, he told his family and employer that he felt ill and ended up going to the hospital.

"We were scared for him in particular because he had diabetes, because he had high blood pressure and he assured us that he was making sure he himself was safe," his daughter said. "You know, he always had his mask on, he always had his gloves on."

On July 5, his daughter says Alvarez was admitted to the ICU and put on a ventilator for two weeks. He passed away on July 20.

"We were deeply saddened to learn about the passing of Jose Roberto Alvarez and wish to share our most sincere condolences to his family. We have been trying to reach his family for several weeks and encourage them to contact us so that we can offer our support during this extraordinarily difficult time," read a statement from Mission Foods.

On Thursday, Mission Foods officials confirmed that a second worker who tested positive for COVID-19 passed away on July 3, as was reported to the L.A. County Public Health Department.

Golden State Foods Corp. in Industry and S&S Foods in Azusa are the other two facilities that were shut down after county health officials say they each had more than 40 cases and failed to notify the county as required.

"Our investigation has revealed that the company was aware of a breakout in the company and intentionally concealed that information from people that were at very high risk of becoming seriously ill," said Oscar Ramirez, the family's attorney.

Mission Foods says it resumed normal operations at the Commerce facility one day after being shut down on July 27.

"During this brief closure period, we worked closely with the Department of Public Health to review and explain our comprehensive COVID-19 protocols and procedures to protect the health and safety of our employees," the company said in a statement.
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