Health district monitoring pork plant COVID-19 cases

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RANTOUL, Ill. (WCIA) — As of tonight, 52 employees at Rantoul Foods have tested positive. That’s three more than yesterday.

“We believe that only 200 of the 700 employees have been tested thus far,” said Julie Pryde. On top of employees testing positive, it’s how they could affect the rest of the community that’s causing concern.

“This has created outbreaks other outbreaks in Champaign and Urbana, Rantoul, and even some cases are outside of our county because the cases are counted where you live, not where you work,” explained Pryde.

Once a person does test positive – the public health district starts contact tracing immediately, by looking into who else that person may have exposed. Employees who have been exposed to the virus are being asked to self-quarantine. They will meet with case investigators who help them figure out when they can return to work.

“We do follow-up. We follow-up every day with people who are in isolation or quarantine,” Pryde said.

Rantoul Mayor Charles Smith says it’s not just the sheer amount of cases that makes the plant’s outbreak challenging.

“This is a lot bigger – a lot more complex – because of the population that we have in those facilities is mostly Hispanic or French, Honduran, those types of things, speaking different dialects.”

Health district leaders are working with Rantoul Foods to make sure they are following all safety protocols in hopes that the cases stop rising.

“This is going to be going on. This is will be ongoing, so we just have to make sure that all the places, not just this specific facilities, but all the places, once they reopen, make sure all measures are in place,” said Pryde.

If you do test positive for COVID-19 and are concerned about returning home to your family, you may be able to get help to stay in a hotel room. Just call your public health district.

If you are an employee and you work somewhere where people have tested positive, the public health district recommends doing things like wearing personal protective equipment if you can’t maintain distance. Wash your hands frequently, and distance yourself from people outside of work as much as possible.

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