Keymark closes down amid virus outbreak

FONDA — Keymark Corporation, the facility that makes aluminum, has closed down after dozens of its employees tested positive for COVID-19.

Keymark recently shut down temporarily after about 77 of its employees tested positive with COVID-19, and out of those 77 employees, eight are Montgomery County residents and nine are Fulton County residents.

“Keymark temporarily shut down however, we have to remember shutting down the business is not the answer, as again, the large group of patients did not contract the virus at work,” Said Montgomery County Public Health Director Sara Boerenko. “They come from an area in which they were not practicing social distancing in their home county. So the business is being shut down through no fault of their own. I have toured the offices and the plant. The staff and administration are taking measures and precautions above what is recommended.”

Keith Grose, director of Human Resources said those safety measures and protocols has included a pre-shift temperature check; a questionnaire all employees are required to respond to; masks are required to be worn; everything is sanitized; restricted no visitors; restricted the number of people allowed in the cafeteria at a time to one person per table and the same goes for breaks.

Last week, out of 681 employees, 573 have been tested and they were waiting on 108 more tests. Boerenko said she was not aware of any positive cases out of those final 108 tests.

She did not say whether any of the employees were asymptomatic, nor did she say how many are being hospitalized.

In a press release issued by the governor’s office, a majority of the employees at Keymark who tested positive reside in Utica in Oneida County and are being traced back to a cluster of employees who tested positive at an apple packaging plant in Oswego County. Many of the employees at the apple packaging plant reside in Oneida and Onondaga counties.

At that business in Oswego County, 82 of 179 employees have tested positive for COVID-19. Many of those employees reside in either Onondaga County or Oneida County, contributing to the recent uptick in confirmed positive cases and percentage of positive test results in both counties and in the central New York and Mohawk Valley regions. As part of the contact tracing efforts related to the Oswego County apple packaging plant, it was revealed that several employees of the plant may have contributed to the COVID-19 cases at Keymark.

Boerenko said tracers in the region have also been tracing where people have been, places they are shopping and eating while in Montgomery County.

“In working with Keymark since March, we are pleased that 108 days into the pandemic Key Mark continues to use safety precautions to protect workers while they are at work,” Boerenko said. “The business cannot be held liable for the decisions that employees make when they are not at work. I have stated from the beginning that this virus has been brought to Montgomery County from surrounding areas.”

By Patricia Older