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Southeast Texas Food Bank pauses operations after 7 test positive

All seven staff members who tested positive are being quarantined.

BEAUMONT, Texas — The Southeast Texas Food Bank announced they are pausing operations after 7 employees tested positive for coronavirus. 

Two more staff members tested positive on Friday, Sept. 11 after five already had positive COVID-19 test results. After the first case was confirmed, all staff members were screened through rapid testing. 

The Houston Food Bank will be doing Hurricane Laura disaster distributions instead during the Southeast Texas Food Bank's closure.

Southeast Texas Food Bank Presidents and CEO Dan Maher is one of the people who tested positive Friday, the organization said in a news release. 

Neither one of the new people who tested positive worked closely with volunteers recently, but the Southeast Texas Food Bank management said they are announcing these cases for the community's public safety. 

All of the employees who tested positive are being quarantined. 

"Unfortunately, in spite of ... the use of face coverings and social distancing, as well as handwashing and sanitizing among staff and volunteers, we continue to see staff members testing positive when being re-tested to verify they are healthy enough to be at work," Southeast Texas Food Bank Board Chair Jeff Oliverio said in a statement. 

The Southeast Texas Food Bank has also used commercial grade sanitizer and a professional cleaning service in their warehouse and offices since the first positive test result, he said. 

“Throughout the impact period of the pandemic, Southeast Texas Food Bank has adopted and implemented various sanitation steps and altered safety processes that had preserved it from having a single known case until last week,” Oliverio said.

The positive COVID-19 cases impacted the Southeast Texas Food Bank's ability to maintain key staff roles, the organization said. After consulting with the Beaumont Health Department, Feeding America and Feeding Texas, the organization decided to temporarily pause operations for the safety of the community. 

The Southeast Texas Food Bank expects to reopen September 21. 

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