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Staff Writer

Hancock Public Health said Wednesday the coronavirus outbreak at Hearthside Food Solutions in McComb involves eight employees, three of whom are Hancock County residents.

“Hancock Public Health is currently investigating a cluster of coronavirus cases involving eight employees of Hearthside Food Solutions,” said public information officer Craig Niese in an email Wednesday afternoon. “We have reached out to the facility, and we are closely working with them to ensure that proper precautions are being taken to prevent the spread among the workforce.”

He said the health department has followed up with three cases who are Hancock County residents, and health department staff “are performing contact tracing to prevent the spread of the virus in the community.” In addition, Niese said, they are working with other regional health departments to follow up on the cases that are not Hancock County residents.

The outbreak was reported Tuesday by Ohio Capital Journal, along with an outbreak at another Ohio food plant, Dole Food Co.’s Springfield salad plant. The Clark County Combined Health District told the publication it had identified 20 cases of COVID-19 associated with that plant.

Nationally, the food industry is especially vulnerable to the virus, according to a Food and Environment Reporting Network database updated May 19. At least 16,485 workers (14,839 meatpackers, 1,074 food processors and 572 farmers) have tested positive. At least 66 have died.

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