CLARIFICATION (5:01 p.m. Friday, March 27): The Dart Corporation’s use of the term “presumed positive” in its March 25 press release reflects implementation of the company’s “presumed positive” protocol. The company, operating from an abundance of caution, presumes a positive result and acts accordingly, until word is received otherwise.

In other words, Dart Corporation’s phrasing – “presumed positive” – DOES NOT equate to the Centers for Disease Control’s terminology of “presumptive positive,” which means a patient has tested positive by a local public health laboratory. That test must still be confirmed at a CDC laboratory, which is why the initial test result is deemed “presumptive.”

UPDATE (5:01 p.m. Friday, March 27): As of this (Friday, March 27) afternoon, NO Dart employee has tested positive. Since the media release’s issuance, the company has received report of one negative test. Two cases involve unrelated diagnoses that will continue to be monitored; the last case is pending test results. The four cases are classified as persons under monitoring.

Ellis County continues to report confirmed cases as provided by the Local Health Authority through the Texas Department of State Health Services. As of Friday afternoon, there were 10 confirmed cases of COVID-19 in Ellis County.

Dart's original release, which was issued Wednesday, March 25:

Dart Container Corporation, identified as “essential critical infrastructure” by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, is temporarily discontinuing production at its Waxahachie, manufacturing facility due to four “presumed positive” cases of COVID-19 in the past week despite following all preventive measures recommended by the Centers for Disease Control & Prevention.

Dart, which manufactures individual use food and beverage packaging, will halt production for three days. It will reopen Sunday, March 28. Dart has received no word of a confirmed COVID-19 test for any of the employees but is treating the cases as positive based on communications with doctors and hospitals.

“Unfortunately, the CDC has issued no guidance to essential industries like ours on how we should handle situations like this,” said Dart Container CEO Jim Lammers. “Four COVID-19 cases represent less than 1-percent of our 800-employee workforce.

“We are aware that many other companies remain open for business after having positive COVID-19 cases,” Lammers said. “But we’re not comfortable doing that, as the health of our employees and their families is our No. 1 priority. We felt the need to take this extraordinary step to temporarily halt production to ensure our workplace is safe for our staff.”

After each presumed positive case was identified, Dart directed the affected employee and coworkers who may have been exposed to self-quarantine at home for 14 days. The company sanitized affected areas and isolated potentially exposed product for at least three days out of an abundance of caution. (According to the National Institutes of Health, the virus can live up to one day on cardboard and up to 72 hours on plastic and other surfaces.)

Facility staff sanitize machines and surfaces after every shift and continually clean common areas. Dart also requires employees to observe social distancing proper handwashing and hygiene measures. Employees are to stay home if sick and notify Dart if they have flu-like symptoms.

The U.S. Department of Homeland Security has identified the food and beverage packaging industry as “essential critical infrastructure” during the COVID-19 pandemic.

“We’re proud to manufacture products that play such an important role in reducing the spread of germs,” Lammers said. “Our packaging keeps food and drinks sanitary and people safe during this unprecedented pandemic.

“Our dedicated employees come to work to make products that are essential and contribute to the health and safety of their communities and the world, and we’re grateful for the crucial part they play in the battle against COVID-19,” Lammers said. “We also take very seriously their safety and wellbeing.”

Editor's note: Clarification and update published 5:01 p.m. Friday, March 27.

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