Increasing COVID-19 cases at Dole prompt DeWine’s call for ZIP code testing in Clark County

CLARK COUNTY — The Clark County Combined Health District said all of the results from the mass testing event at the Dole Plant in Springfield are in – and of the 829 employees who were tested, 234 tested positive for COVID-19.

Health Commissioner Charles Patterson told News Center 7′s Jenna Lawson that number is in addition to the number of employees who tested positive prior to the mass testing event.

The health district lists the number of total Dole employees who have tested positive at 260 – although Patterson the health district is working to weed out any duplicate cases.

Thankfully, Patterson said the hospitalization rate for the employees who have tested positive is low thus far. All COVID-19 positive employees are no longer working and are in isolation at their homes.

The health district works with each case to get them groceries or other needs so they don’t have to leave the house, which could possibly infect others in the community.

“We’re working very closely with the Ohio Department of Health and the governor’s office to try to bring additional testing into Clark County so we can test those contacts and family members of the individuals affected by this testing,” Patterson said.

During his news briefing Thursday, Gov. Mike DeWine called parts of southwest Ohio, including Clark County ‘worrisome’ because of the increase in cases – at both Dole and Southbrook Care Center, a long-term care facility.

“You’re going to see us move in more heavily with the National Guard that will be doing testing in different sites (around southwest Ohio),” DeWine said.

The governor is also asking for all people living in the 45505, 45506 and 45503 ZIP codes specifically in Clark County to get tested for COVID-19.

One woman who did not want her named to used told Lawson her husband works at Dole. He tested negative for the virus, but she’s worried about his health. She feels like her family has no choice.

“But we have kids to support,” she wrote. “So he spends his breaks and lunch either in his car or home to eat.”

The Dole plant is still in operation.

The health district said any decision to shut down the plant would need to come from either Dole or the Ohio Department of Health.

“This is not some place to panic,” Patterson said. “We’ve been telling the public over the last couple of weeks that testing would increase and that testing is showing additional cases.”

The health district encouraged use of universal masking, social distancing and good hand-washing practices.

Jenna Lawson

Jenna Lawson

I grew up in Springfield and I'm a big fan of all things Springfield, including Schuler's & the Clark County Fair. A career in journalism never really was a serious thought until the end of high school. You just have epiphanies sometimes, and that's the only way I can explain why I got into this line of work – but I'm happier for it!