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20 COVID-19 cases linked to outbreak at Dole plant in Ohio, according to health officials

CLARK COUNTY, Ohio — Health officials have identified 20 cases of COVID-19 linked to a Dole Fresh Vegetables packing plant in Clark County, Ohio.

Of the 20 cases, 12 are Dole employees (10 confirmed and two probable); eight are contacts of employees (five confirmed and three probable); and three cases involve people who do not live in Clark County, according to a statement released by the Clark County Combined Health District Tuesday, May 19.

The health district on Monday announced it was monitoring the first workplace outbreak in Clark County, and Tuesday, officials identified Dole as the company, according to the Springfield News-Sun.

In a statement to local news station WDTN, Dole maintained that the company has been in constant contact with the packing location since the potential outbreak was initially reported back in April:

“In addition to implementing all public health recommended precautions—social distancing, extensive hand washing, wearing of face masks at all times in our facilities, mandated self-quarantining of employees and contractors exposed to COVID-positive individuals, and increased frequency of deep cleaning and sanitation at the facility, especially in high touch areas—Dole has additionally welcomed CCCHD to come into and inspect the Springfield Salad Facility. Following the inspection, during which CCCHD noted the many protective procedures implemented by Dole, the facility implemented additional protocols based on their suggestions to further increase the safety of our employees and contractors. These include greater distancing and separation of workers in our facility, table dividers installed in our cafeteria and similar dividers in our packing room for added protection.”

Despite implementing additional safety measures, 10 Dole salad plant employees and contractors at the Ohio packing plant tested positive for COVID-19, according to the statement.

“We cannot state with certainty how the transmission occurred, but these results lead us to believe that the plant is not the source of transmission. No matter how the transmission occurred, however, Dole will continue to place employee health and well-being above all else in our efforts to keep fresh salads on shelves across the nation,“ the statement concluded.

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