IP confirms COVID-19 cases at Riverdale Mill, ‘no operational disruptions’

Published 9:21 am Tuesday, May 5, 2020

International Paper (IP) confirmed a “small number” of employees at the company’s Riverdale Mill in Selma have tested positive for COVID-19 on Monday morning, though the exact number of cases was not disclosed due to privacy reasons.
“We have experienced a small number of confirmed COVID-19 cases,” wrote IP Communications Manager Arthur Mclean in an email to the Times-Journal. “We instructed the affected individuals to self-quarantine. Using our close-contact tracing protocol, we identified other individuals who were in close contact with the affected individual and implemented self-quarantine protocols for those individuals. In addition, following health department guidelines, we cleaned and disinfected the areas and equipment where the employees spent time using a certified company to perform the cleaning.”
According to a memo issued to IP employees dated April 28, at least one IP employee who tested positive for the virus worked on IP’s Project Bridge, which is the internal name for the company’s project to convert one of the two paper machines at the Riverdale mill from producing uncoated freesheet, used in copy and printing paper, to whitetop linerboard, used in packaging and displays.
“In order to maintain safety guidelines and ensure appropriate social distancing of our employees and contractors, we have revised the expected completion of the paper machine conversion for the third quarter,” wrote McLean.
According to McLean, there have been no operational disruptions due to COVID-19 cases at the mill and the health and safety of IP’s employees and contractors are paramount.
“We continue to stress the importance of practicing personal hygiene and social distancing, and we perform a rigorous daily and weekly site cleaning routine, in addition to other measures recommended by the CDC,” continued Mclean. “We conduct daily temperature testing for everyone who enters the facility. We also require employees to keep close contact logs for contact tracing and to maintain less than ten people in common meeting rooms and work areas.”