The Clark County Combined Health District identified 20 cases of coronavirus linked to the Dole Fresh Vegetables packaging plant in Springfield.
Of the 20 cases, 12 are Dole employees (10 confirmed and two probable); eight are contacts of employees (five confirmed and three probable); and three cases involve people who do not live in Clark County, according to a statement released by the district Tuesday evening.
This cluster of cases at the Dole plant may have some wondering, can the coronavirus be transmitted through food?
Coronaviruses are generally thought to be spread from person to person through respiratory droplets, not through food, according to the Center for Disease Control (CDC). Currently, there is no evidence to support transmission of COVID-19 associated with food, the CDC said. Before preparing or eating food it is important to always wash hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds for general food safety. Throughout the day use a tissue to cover coughing or sneezing and wash hands after blowing your nose, coughing or sneezing, or going to the bathroom.
It may be possible that a person can get the coronavirus by touching a surface or object, like a packaging container, that has the virus on it and then touching their own mouth, nose, or possibly their eyes, but this is not thought to be the main way the virus spreads.
In general, because of poor survivability of these coronaviruses on surfaces, there is likely very low risk of spread from food products or packaging, like packaging coming from the Dole plant.
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The health district said it has been working closely with Dole to monitor and contain the outbreak since the first case was detected April 22, and said Dole has “gone above and beyond the required safety precautions” and assisted with contact tracing and telling those affected to stay home and to quarantine.