More than two-thirds of Chatham-Kent’s COVID-19 cases are at Greenhill Produce after 12 more were reported there Friday by Chatham-Kent public health.
The hard-hit Kent Bridge greenhouse facility has 81 confirmed cases: 78 migrant workers living in bunkhouses and three Chatham-Kent residents. Thirty-one cases are active.
“These additional cases are the result of extreme diligence to make sure we haven’t missed any, and to find them and isolate them before this gets into the general Chatham-Kent community,” said Dr. David Colby, Chatham-Kent’s medical officer of health.
All but one of Chatham-Kent’s new cases Friday are at Greenhill. The municipality has 121 cases, including 35 active. No one is hospitalized.
The migrant workers who tested positive this week, including 11 on Friday, had previously tested negative.
They’d been in quarantine with other bunkhouse residents who also tested negative. They may have become positive during the isolation period because of previous contact with co-workers who were positive, Colby said.
“We isolated all of these negatives because we knew they’d been exposed,” Colby said. “We tested again and, sure enough, our suspicions were right. They came up positive, and we’re going to manage that and handle that in a proactive fashion. … We knew that they were exposed and we were expecting more cases. Honestly, I wasn’t expecting as many as we got, but that’s why we did the tests in the first place.”
He praised public health officials for keeping the outbreak under control.
“I want people to have the confidence that my team deserves,” he said. “I’ve got an absolutely crack team on this.”
The Greenhill total doesn’t include another 14 contract workers – two more positives were reported Friday – living in the Leamington area. They’re counted by the Windsor-Essex County health unit because they don’t live in Chatham-Kent.
Approximately 130 test results were pending for Greenhill workers late Friday afternoon.
“They’re trickling in all the time,” Colby said.
One Greenhill worker who received a positive test Friday lives in the community and is now in quarantine.
“They’re all wearing PPE (personal protective equipment) and physical distancing in the greenhouse,” Colby said. “I am truly hopeful that we’re not going to see very many of these. But that’s why I’m testing them: to be certain.”
The only non-Greenhill case Friday was a migrant worker still under a 14-day quarantine after arriving in Canada. He has not gone to a farm and is living in a hotel, Colby said, and will begin a new quarantine period.
Meanwhile, testing is finished at all long-term care homes in Chatham-Kent. No residents or staff have tested positive. Only 35 results were pending Friday morning.