26 Covid cases found among orchard workers in Shoreham All board at same bunkhouse; one is showing symptoms

By Shawn Cunningham
© 2020 Telegraph Publishing LLC

The Vermont Health Department announced today that an outbreak of 26 Covid-19 positive cases has been identified among migrant agriculture workers at Champlain Orchards in Shoreham.

Health Department says fruit is safe to eat, pick. Photo by Tom Swinnen for Pexels.

The workers are Jamaicans who are in the United States on H2A visas and arrived at John F. Kennedy Airport on Sept. 14. They had been brought by charter bus to Shoreham, where they quarantined for 14 days. After one worker fell ill and was found to be positive, the department tested the workers over the weekend and found the 26. Those workers lived in the same bunkhouse and officials say that most have no symptoms.

Health Commissioner Dr. Mark Levine said that the outbreak is contained to the farm and that it is safe to eat apples and other products from Champlain Orchards, which also grows peaches, pears, plums and  cherries among other fruits on 60 acres in the Champlain Valley. While the orchard currently is closed to pick your own service, it will reopen on Wednesday.

Levine and Agriculture Secretary Ansen Tibbets said that orchard owner Bill Suhr has been very cooperative and that the main focus has been on the health and safety of the workers.

State Epidemiologist Patsy Kelso said that it is possible that more cases will be found and that contact tracing and testing is ongoing. Kelso said there would be testing tomorrow.

According to the Champlain Orchard’s website, the company employs 40 locals workers year round and 50 Jamaicans in the harvest season.

 

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  1. Sue Starr says:

    The 14 day quarantine would only work if each person were isolated, rather than having everyone staying in a bunkhouse. It’s surprising that the FDA doesn’t supply sensible guidelines for farmers so that they can harvest safely.

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