119 COVID-19 Cases at UNFI Closes Centralia Facility Temporarily

Distribution Center Serves 825 Regional Grocery Stores, Plus Military Operation


With 119 COVID-19 cases in the past two weeks, Centralia’s United Natural Food Inc. (UNFI) distribution center announced its temporary closure Sunday.  

The facility serves 825 grocery stores in the region, plus a large military operation. Working with the state Department of Health and local public health officials, UNFI expects to reopen Aug. 7. 

“We certainly would prefer to have been here today to talk to you about we being one of the largest employers in the county, the economic impact that we deliver, hiring more associates to support growth,” spokesperson Jeff Swanson told county commissioners Monday. “But unfortunately … we’re dealing with an increase in positive COVID cases amongst associates and third party contractors who work in the facility.” 

According to Lewis County Public Health Director JP Anderson, 56 of those 119 cases were identified through plant-wide testing that began Friday. Not all of those cases are from residents of Lewis County. 

The county’s current case rate is 150.8 per 100,000 — slightly above the state’s 137.6 — and is on the rise in what health officials have described as a fifth wave. 

The closure also marks the first time UNFI has closed any of its 58 distribution centers across the country due to the pandemic, according to Swanson. 

The company is working with Lewis County Public Health and Social Services to address the recent infections, and said in a news release that it will require employees to show two negative COVID-19 tests before returning to work. 

UNFI will “continue to promote the benefits of the COVID-19 vaccine to its associate base,” and follow guidance from the Center for Disease Control and Prevention.

“UNFI’s actions in Centralia reflect the company’s ongoing commitment to maintaining robust safety and risk management practices to combat COVID-19,” the release stated. “The company’s efforts have been nationally recognized and are helping keep the food supply chain flowing throughout the pandemic.”

According to UNFI’s release, employees will be compensated through the closure. The company also said it will “continue to meet the essential needs of certain Centralia distribution center customers, including military commissaries” and will be communicating with local government officials and other partners. 

At the Monday meeting, county commissioners thanked Swanson for UNFI’s work, as well as the company’s creation of jobs in the county. 

UNFI’s senior vice president of risk and safety, Andre LaMere, also took the opportunity to urge county leaders to promote the COVID-19 vaccine, uptake of which has stalled in Lewis County. 

“Because we all know that’s the solution. That’s the way out of the pandemic,” he said.


3 comments on this story | Please log in to comment by clicking here

Sad to think that UNFI doesn't appear to have taken Jay Inslee and his plans to keep everyone safe, seriously. I guess the poor employees reap the benefit of spreading Covid when poor decisions are made.

It is simple... Follow the mandates from Jay and the CDC and you will avoid this horrible disease. Trust me... Covid can and will kill as it chooses.

Tuesday, August 10

It is simple... Follow the mandates from Jay and the CDC and you will avoid this horrible disease. Trust me... Covid can and will kill as it chooses.

Hey doofus.....your covid innoculation does not prevent you from contracting anything by the CDC own documents. Also if you research, the suvivability of this "disease" is over 95% . Unless you are knocking on death's door you will probably live through it. So, go ahead and "trust a politician" to tell you the truth. heh

Thursday, August 12

My family had covid it was no big deal. My wife was pregnant. This story fails to mention that all these people had the V aka experimental gene therapy. They also had mandatory masks too. My friend works there. "tRuSt tHe SciEnce, cDc, and Politicians". They never ever lie, never have and never will.

Sad to see how many minds the MSM has completely broken. The fear state you live in is much more harmful to your body then a cough and the sniffles.

Friday, August 13