11 cases linked to fruit farm

Farm workers lay down a reflective material to help apples with ripening at a farm near Grand Rapids. Ten new cases of COVID-19 in Columbia County were traced to an unidentified fruit farm. County health officials said they could not name the farm or where it is located. Mandi Wright, Detroit Free Press/Tribune News Service

HUDSON — Eleven workers at a fruit farm near Hudson have tested positive for COVID-19, county officials said Monday.

Columbia County Department of Health Director Jack Mabb said Friday 10 fruit farm workers who tested positive were in mandatory quarantine. Another individual tested positive Saturday. Ten people who were in contact with the workers are also in mandatory quarantine.

“The good news is that we’ve tested 35 individuals who live on the farm and all of their results came back negative,” Mabb said. “There is no indication that this outbreak presents a danger to the public at large.”

Mabb said he could not release the name of the farm where the cluster of cases is located, but he added it has a Hudson address.

The people who tested positive live in a single home used by workers who do not live on the farm. The farm does not operate a market or otherwise interact with the public.

Mabb said the quarantined individuals are being provided with food with help from the Office of the Aging, Meals on Wheels, the Department of Social Services and the Salvation Army.

The county Health Department tested about 90 of the farm’s workers Thursday and Friday for COVID-19, Mabb said.

The department used contact tracing to get in touch with anyone who may have come in contact with the positive individuals.

“The department of health’s contact-tracing efforts are showing us that the workers’ movements have been confined to the farm and the residence,” Mabb said.

It is not necessary for fruit on the farm to be sprayed or disinfected, Mabb said.

The virus does not last long outside the host’s body, and if the virus was on a piece of fruit it would die. Disinfecting helps in office spaces or in living quarters, Mabb added.

Columbia County has 14 active cases of COVID-19, according to the department of health website.

The county has had 577 total COVID cases and 37 COVID-related deaths. Twenty-four people in the county are under mandatory quarantine and one person is in an intensive care unit. The person in the intensive care unit is not associated with the cases at the fruit farm.

The county has performed more than 34,300 COVID tests since March, according to the county website.

The six Columbia County school districts have had one reported positive COVID case in a student in Hudson and one positive case in a teacher in Chatham, according to the state school COVID Report Card, updated Friday.

Both the student and the teacher were not participating in classes on the schools’ campuses.

About 34% of the total positive COVID cases in the county have involved residents of nursing homes. There were two positive cases at Livingston Hills Nursing and Rehabilitation Center, 51 positive cases at Pine Haven Nursing and Rehabilitation Center and 142 positive cases at The Grand Rehabilitation and Nursing at Barnwell.

The county had a flu vaccination clinic at Columbia-Greene Community College on Saturday. Mabb said 102 people were given their flu shot.

“It’s designed for us to practice doing the drive-up vaccinations in preparation for the COVID vaccine that is probably coming in late winter or early spring. It went extremely well,” he said.

The county is holding several drive-up flu vaccination clinics this month: Thursday, Oct. 8, 9-11 a.m. at Palatine Park in Germantown; Saturday, Oct. 17, from 9-11 a.m. at Ichabod Crane School in Valatie; and Thursday, Oct. 22, 10 a.m. to noon at New Lebanon Town Hall. Preregistration is required for a vaccination and can be done online at the county board of health website or by calling 518-828-3358 ext. 1310; leave your name and phone number and a staff member will contact you to complete the registration.

The shots may be free if you are not insured; for those paying in cash, the cost is $42.

CORRECTION: This article has been changed to reflect the fact that a teacher in the Chatham school district tested positive for COVID-19, not the New Lebanon district. There have been no positive COVID-19 tests in the New Lebanon district. We apologize for the error.

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