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Virus outbreak targeted in agricultural Washington county

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Virus outbreak targeted in agricultural Washington county

FILE – In this April 10, 2020 file photo, Missael Lopez, left, and Laura McIlrath Riel bundle asparagus at McIlrath Family Farm stand in Yakima during the coronavirus outbreak. The state of Washington is implementing safety recommendations to battle a large outbreak of the coronavirus in the agricultural area in the central part of the state. (Photo: Evan Abell, AP) SPOKANE (AP) — The state of Washington is implementing safety recommendations to battle a large outbreak of the coronavirus in an agricultural county in the central part of the state, officials said Tuesday.

Yakima County, a major food producer, has recorded about 3,000 cases of the virus among its 250,000 residents, and infections have moved into the county’s massive farm and food processing sector. The outbreak has caused one case for every 89 people in the county.

"That’s really where we are seeing our hot spot at the moment,” said John Wiesman, state secretary of health.

By contrast, King County, which includes Seattle, has one case for every 274 residents.

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Many of the cases in Yakima County are showing up on farms, in meat plants and in fruit and vegetable processing warehouses, officials said.

State and federal disease experts descended on the county in the past two weeks to look for ways to stem the burgeoning number of cases, which comes as other parts of Washington are reporting shrinking numbers.

The experts recommended a series of steps that employers can adopt immediately, while the state worked to make the reforms mandatory, said State Epidemiologist Dr. Scott Lindquist.The recommendations included that workers be at least 6 feet apart, not working shoulder-to-shoulder, Lindquist said. All employees should […]

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