At least 11 workers at Hopkins distribution center have tested positive for COVID-19

At least 11 employees at the United Natural Foods, Inc. distribution center in Hopkins have tested positive for COVID-19, the company stated in a news release.

Of those employees, seven no longer need isolation and are back at work. The other four are out and quarantining, the release stated.

UNFI said none of those cases have been attributed to employee-to-employee transmission.

"When performing contact tracing following each confirmed positive case, we’re finding that some associates are making choices away from work that are placing them at a high risk for exposure, such as not practicing social distancing while attending gatherings at public places," said Andre LaMere, UNFI's senior vice president of risk and safety. "We have also seen other associates who had a household member diagnosed with COVID-19, but did not speak up and take the leave available to them."

According to the news release, UNFI has asked all employees to perform health screenings at home each day and to use paid leave when a member of the household has become infected with COVID-19. The company says it will roll out temperature checks at the onset of shifts in the coming days.

In late May, Teamsters Local 120, which represents workers at the Hopkins distribution center, accused UNFI of putting its employees at risk and threatening Minnesota's food supply by bringing in temporary workers from across the country. UNFI distributes groceries to stores such as Cub Foods and Whole Foods.

"Instead of following safety protocols, they decided to bring in workers from all over the country, which not only increases the risk of potential exposure to our workers but also amplifies the potential impact on the state's grocery supply," Local 120 President Tom Erickson said in a May 24 news release. "It's outrageous and irresponsible."

At that time there had been four confirmed coronavirus cases in the facility.