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Blueberry farm working to isolate COVID-19 outbreak

The farm is back up and running but with extra precautions in place.

Posted: Jul 24, 2020 6:39 PM

DOUGLAS COUNTY, Ore. -- Blueberry season is off to a rough start at Norris Farms.

The Oregon Health Authority reported Norris Farms as the second workplace COVID-19 outbreak in Douglas County on Wednesday.

County officials have confirmed there are 22 cases tied to the blueberry farm, which is located 15 miles northwest of Roseburg.

RELATED: OUTBREAK AT FARM SPARKS DOUGLAS COUNTY'S HIGHEST DAILY CASE INCREASE

Public health officer Bob Dannenhoffer said the cases are a mix of employees and family members. He would not confirm how many employees have tested positive so far.

Dannenhoffer said they believe the infection is from out of state. Each summer, Norris Farms hires seasonal workers for blueberry season. Dannenhoffer said those workers are usually from all around the country and it’s likely someone brought the virus with them.

“Some of those people that they hired from around the country came in having been exposed to the disease,” Dannenhoffer said.

Gage Thompson, a spokesman for Norris Farms, told KEZI 9 News via email that they saw their first positive case on June 25. He said they shut down the facility that afternoon to clean.

Right now, the facility running under its normal operating hours. However, Thompson said they’re taking extra precautions to keep their employees safe.

Some of those precautions include increased cleaning, barriers between workers, a mask requirement and physical distancing between each person.

Thompson said they’ve tested nearly 400 people and they’re still waiting on 40 test results from state labs.

However, Dannenhoffer said they’re doing everything they can to isolate the spread.

“We’re really hoping to close down this outbreak at Norris Farms," said Dannenhoffer. “We’re trying to limit any further spread beyond employees and family members.”

The first Douglas County workplace outbreak was at ROMTEC, a small manufacturing company near Glide. Dannenhoffer said that outbreak is almost 100% contained.

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