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Community Leaders Take Steps to Protect Essential Workers

Tuesday June 16, 2020

Protecting the safety and well-being of essential service workers is critical to maintaining operations of those businesses that provide essential goods and services to our communities.

As communities across our counties work together to manage through the COVID-19 situation, our businesses continue to adapt their policies and procedures to help protect their workers. One such business in our area is Maroa Farms, a 2.2 Million-square foot greenhouse in Coldwater, Michigan that grows fresh produce year-round.

“We have been working closely with Maroa Farms and appreciate their continued efforts in protecting their workers,” said Rebecca Burns, Health Officer for the Branch-Hillsdale-St. Joseph Community Health Agency (BHSJCHA). “The proactive approach they have taken ensures that they can maintain a steady supply of fresh, nutritious food to our communities, and further supports the re-opening efforts in Michigan.”

Working closely with the tri-county health department during this Coronavirus pandemic, the farm implemented the following measures to protect their employees and farmworkers:

Further, for any workers being housed onsite, the farm has undertaken the following measures:

Social distancing is inherent in most of the greenhouse production area. Individual greenhouse workers are assigned one row or section and typically work individually with little to no direct contact with others during the day. The facility is the size of nearly 40 football fields (2.2 Million sq. feet).

Maroa Farms recently took the proactive step of conducting mass testing of onsite workers, in order to identify any workers that were tested that mayhave COVID-19 but were not showing symptoms. This has allowed the farm to identify and separate those testing positive for COVID-19, to help prevent further spread. Testing was conducted using a professional health testing provider. All results have been reported to Public Health, and those workers testing positive are instructed to self-isolate in accordance with CDC guidelines. The CDC and Federal Drug Administration continue to reinforce that there is no evidence that the COVID-19 virus can be transmitted through food.