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A Hancock County company, which processes and packages blueberries, has detected five cases of coronovirus among migrant workers who were hired to rake blueberries.
Hancock Foods tested employees as a precautionary measure before starting work and negotiated with other employees, said Kim Allen, a company official who is located in the Washington Junction neighborhood of Hancock City, east of the Ellsworth City Line is. .
Additional testing is still underway and support services are being provided to the company’s employees, said Nirav Shah, director of the Main Center for Disease Control and Prevention.
Hancock Foods, located in Ellsworth, is owned by Allen’s Blueberry Freezer.
“We were bringing in a crew of migrant workers to harvest the blueberries,” Allen said.
Workers are being displaced under the supervision of the Silent Mobile Health Program, a nonprofit health care agency that serves seasonal farm workers.
Ellen said the company would have to find other workers until those who tested positive received a clean bill of health. He said Hancock Foods does not plan to bring any more migrant workers, but intends to fill the remaining racker positions with local residents.
Hancock County has seen fewer numbers of coronovirus cases since the onset of the epidemic. According to Maine CDC data, the county has the third lowest rate of coronovirus infections in the state. By the end of Monday, the county had seen a total of 18 cases between residents, one death and two hospitals.
Coronavirus infection among migrant workers, however, has been common during the epidemic as they have gradually moved northward to different crops.
The Hancock Foods outbreak was one of three new coronovirus outbreaks of the Maine CDC reported on Tuesday.
One of those outbreaks was at the Central Maine Medical Center in Lewiston, where there were 12 cases – between 10 employees and two patients. Shah said the Maine CDC is still investigating that outbreak, but it appears that a patient introduced coronovirus to the facility before the outbreak, Shah said.
Other outbreaks of three cases were reported at Sappi’s paper mill in Westbrook.
The state has seen more outbreaks of coronovirus at workplaces in recent weeks as Maine’s economy slowly reopened. In the first epidemic, outbreaks occurred in nursing homes and group homes where people with intellectual disabilities were more common.