Coronavirus: 20 cases of COVID-19 found to be associated with Dole Fresh Vegetables packaging plant

SPRINGFIELD — The Clark County Combined Health District confirmed that 20 cases of the coronavirus were found to be associated with the Dole Fresh Vegetables packaging plant in Springfield, according to a release.

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Twelve of the cases are Dole employees, 10 are confirmed positive and two are considered probable.

Eight of the 20 cases are contacts of employees, five are confirmed and three are probable.

“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,” Dole said in a statement.

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“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.”

The first case was detected April 22, according to the Clark County Combined Health District.

“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,” Dole said.

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“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 Company said.

The health department reports that three of the cases are not Clark County residents.

“Dole has been a great partner in the investigation of this outbreak, they have gone over and above the state and CDC recommendations," said Charles Patterson, Clark County Health Commissioner.

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"They are doing everything right. 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.”