FREEPORT — Maine Center for Disease Control and Prevention officials this week announced a COVID-19 outbreak has occurred at the L.L. Bean Fulfillment Center in Freeport, with five employees testing positive for the virus.
According to Amanda Hannah, director of external communications for the retailer, a sixth case has since been identified in returns, a different building, bringing the company’s total number of cases up to 10. The other cases have been spread across L.L. Beans 54 retail stores across the country. L.L. Bean has 5,844 employees nationwide.
“In light of the growing number of cases in the state, we continue to work with the CDC to track and prevent any possible transmission at our facility, and will continue to adhere to strict safety protocols and around-the-clock rigorous cleaning,” Hannah said in a statement.
On Monday, the company offered testing to 500 employees “out of an abundance of caution and for peace of mind.”
At the fulfillment center, employees have been operating at 50% shift capacity across three buildings, including the 1.2 million-square-foot warehouse, and keeping at least a six-foot distance at all times since the beginning of the pandemic, Hannah said.
Other safety precautions include one way walk aisles, plexiglass between machines and in bathrooms, added breakrooms, mandatory face covering, employee training, separated pack lines and rigorous cleaning every night.
“The health and safety of our team will remain our top priority, and we will continue to communicate updates to our employees first and foremost so they are informed,” Hannah said. “Additionally, there is no impact to customers and we continue to implement rigorous standards in our retail locations including social distancing, increased sanitation, face covering requirements and capping capacity in stores to ensure customers can shop safely.”
The coronavirus pandemic ushered in a new era for the outdoor retailer— one involving locks on the doors of the flagship location. Before the store closed in mid-March, the store, famously open all hours, had only ever closed five times, and then only briefly.
The company started reopening some locations in mid-May, but the flagship store in Freeport did not reopen until June 1.
Maine CDC officials reported 47 new cases of COVID-19 on Wednesday and no additional deaths. The one-day increase in cases is the highest since the state recorded 51 new cases on Sept. 29. So far, there have been 5,816 cases of the virus statewide, resulting in 143 deaths.