Barreto Manufacturing

Barreto Manufacturing Inc. of La Grande has laid off 85 employees — about two-thirds of its workforce — since mid-March due to the economic downturn stemming from steps to stop the spread of the new coronavirus.

LA GRANDE — Union County has two new cases of the COVID-19 virus. One of them involves a Barreto Manufacturing crew member at the company’s Hot Lake plant.

The Center for Human Development Inc., which oversees public health in the county, reported late Wednesday afternoon that the new cases bring the county’s total to three. The center did not provide any information about who the victims are. Barreto Manufacturing owner Greg Barreto said the confirmation of his employee’s infection came Tuesday.

The employee came down with a fever on March 20, according to the notice the company sent Wednesday to employees. However, the employee’s last day at the job was March 19.

Barreto, who is in his sixth and final year as representative of Oregon House District 58, said he was in Salem when the employee called in sick with COVID-19 symptoms and promptly sought testing for the virus. But the wait time for the confirmation, Barreto said, is frustrating.

“That was nine days ago,” he said Wednesday afternoon.

Barreto said Thursday will mark 14 days since the employee was at work and no other employees have had symptoms. He also said the employee has been home and isolating, and has not needed to go to the hospital. But the business has stepped up its sanitization and social distancing efforts.

“You have to do all of these things and hope for the best,” he said.

Barreto Manufacturing has laid off 85 employees since mid-March due to the economic downturn from the efforts to curtail the spread of the 2019 coronavirus. Barreto said the company is operating with a skeleton crew to finish out the remaining orders.

The Center for Human Development and the Oregon Health Authority is working to identify and isolate anyone who may have been in close contact with these individuals in the last 14 days, according to the news release from the center.

Union County Public Health Administrator Carrie Brogoitti said the number of cases in Oregon and nationwide continue to trend up.

“We are likely to see additional cases,” she said in the news release, “which is why we urge Union County residents to take the steps our federal and state government has outlined to reduce the spread and minimize the risk of becoming ill with the virus.”

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