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Seneca Foods in Blue Earth sees outbreak

BLUE EARTH — Officials from Community Health and Human Services of Faribault & Martin Counties say they are working with Seneca Foods of Blue Earth to respond to a cluster of COVID-19 cases.

The Minnesota Department of Health, United Hospital District and Faribault County Emergency Management are the other partners involved.

“We are taking a united approach to this response by identifying people who are ill as quickly as possible and ensuring that people get the medical care they need,” the groups stated in a press release. “Seneca Foods has been designated as a critical local infrastructure and has been a great asset to our community for many years. They have proactively implemented comprehensive screening and safety measures to minimize the spread of this illness.”

The number of cases involved is currently less than 20, according to Public Health sanitarian Tim Langer. The cluster is not unexpected, he noted, given that large employers such as food-processing plants have been among those witnessing outbreaks. The Seneca plant cans peas and corn.

Public Health previously was involved in aiding Fairmont Foods, which saw an outbreak in late April. Langer said officials have been working with all food-processing plants in both counties for three months, with weekly meetings held.

Community Health officials say their top priority is the health and safety of the workers, their families and the community. They say it is important that everyone continue to take steps to prevent the spread of the virus. This means:

1. Social distancing, or staying at least 6 feet from other people.

2. Avoiding crowded spaces and taking advantage of outdoor activities.

3. Wearing a facemask when unable to social distance.

4. Washing your hands often with soap and water and using alcohol-based hand sanitizers.

5. Covering your coughs and sneezes with your elbow or a tissue.

While COVID-19 can be mild for most people, those who are older or have underlying medical conditions can be at higher risk for severe disease. Those with symptoms of COVID-19 are asked to stay home. Symptoms include fever, cough, body aches, sore throat or shortness of breath. Those with symptoms are asked to call their health care provider before going to the clinic or hospital.

Community Health says it continues to operate a 24/7 message service for anyone needing assistance with obtaining essential services, such as groceries or supplies. The service is available to help individuals safely isolate and quarantine as they recover from COVID-19. The number is (507) 238-8434.

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