DOT Foods in Mt. Sterling closed their day shift down yesterday after an employee at one of the warehouse facilities presented positive COVID-19 symptoms. Matt Holt, Vice President of Human Resources for DOT, says that the shift was closed so that a deep disinfect cleaning could take place. Holt says he was unsure if the positive case was reflected in the 4 new positive cases reported by the Brown County Health Department yesterday. “We had a positive test come back, which is what spurred our cleaning activity and also spurred us to end the day shift early so we could clean before the next shift started. The reason I pause on saying it’s connected to Brown County’s case count is that I don’t know if that individual lives in the county or not. I don’t know if it’s reflected in those numbers.”
Holt said that normal shift work began for the evening shift yesterday. “Actually, we’ve had an everyday rigorous cleaning protocol in place that’s quite significant. If there is a positive, per our plan, we do additional disinfecting processes which we did yesterday. After the process was completed, we go through and make sure a checklist of items has been done. Assuming that’s been done, we resumed with the next shift.”
Holt says that all employees are being screened and given a disposable mask each day before entry into the warehouses. Gloves are standard issue in both warehouses for employees. He says use of the masks depend upon the person’s job description. “There are some employees that are required based on their job responsibilities to wear a mask, and there are others it’s encouraged but not required. We do provide a disposable mask every day. We’re also going through a process now to order and have purchased cloth masks that are reusable. Any employee that also wants a cloth mask for use either personally or at work can have that as well.”
Holt says DOT has spread people out on shifts and breaks to help with physical distancing and to combat any possible spread of COVID-19. “We have made a number of different changes to spread people out so that we have plenty of distancing. For example, within each shift, we break it down into groups and categorize them by letter. That allows us to spread people out with appropriate distancing for all of their activities, whether that’s the pre-shift stand up meetings we have, breaks, or lunch times. It allows for smaller groups but still maintain good communication with employees and to have good distance. It’s been a big adjustment that we made a couple months ago when this crisis started.”
He says that the business has seen a major impact on their restaurant, school cafeteria, and hospital food distributors but has done well in their smaller grocery store food chain distribution. “That hit came overnight and it has been increasing. Now, I think it’s heading back in the right direction. We wish it was quicker, but volume is starting to return. The smaller part of our business is selling to grocery store distributors and it’s of no surprise to hear that that side of the business is doing quite well, but unfortunately it’s a smaller part of our business. When you take the two sides of our business combined, we’re still not where we want to be but we are heading in the right direction. Our forecasts over the next 12 weeks which I just looked at this morning is an improved forecast versus that same forecast a couple of weeks ago.”
Holt says the company’s state of mind has been focused on keeping the employees and the Mt. Sterling community safe and healthy first. He says it has been guiding the company’s guidelines and decisions since things began back in March. He says that his office and the Tracy Family are closely monitoring the situation every day to ensure the employees continue to stay healthy and safe through the pandemic.