SPRINGFIELD, Ohio (WDTN) – 20 cases of COVID-19 have been identified by health officials in Clark County that are associated with the Dole Fresh Vegetables packaging plant.
The Clark County Combined Health District (CCCHD) says that of those 20 cases, 12 are Dole employees (10 confirmed cases, 2 probable cases) and 8 are contacts of employees (5 confirmed cases, 3 probable cases).
Three of these cases are not Clark County residents, though officials did not disclose what counties these cases are associated with.
CCCHD says they have been working with Dole to monitor and contain this outbreak since the first case was detected on April 22. Health inspectors have visited the facility in order to ensure all precautionis are being taken to prevent further spread of COVID-19.
Health officials say that Dole “has gone above and beyond” the required safety precautions. They have assisted CCCHD with contact tracing and have directed close contacts of these positive cases to stay home and quarantine.
“Dole has been a great partner in the investigation of this outbreak, they have gone over and above the state and CDC recommendations. They are doing everything right.” Said Charles Patterson, Clark County Health Commissioner. “It’s important to remember that employees socialize outside of work, ride together to and from work and in some cases live in close proximity so disease transmission is not confined to the work place.”
CCCHD, along with Dole, continues to monitor the situation.
Dole released a statement about the situation that reads as follows:
The safety of employees, families, communities and products remain Dole’s top priority.
Since the onset of COVID-19, Dole Fresh Vegetables and Clark County Combined Health District (CCCHD) have maintained a close relationship and constant communication.
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 these protocols, 10 Dole salad plant employees and contractors (excluding non-confirmed cases and contacts with individuals other than Dole plant workers) have tested positive for COVID-19. Contract tracing of positive individuals did not appear to reveal any clustering nor evidence of transmission of the virus within our plant. Nor are we aware that any of the individuals identified through contact tracing have tested positive for the virus. 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.Dole Food Company