WARWICK — More than 300 people, many of them employed at a mushroom farm in southern Cecil County, were tested for COVID-19 over two days last week in a partnership between health officials in Kent and Cecil counties.
Everyone will be contacted with their test results within a couple of days, the Kent County Health Department announced in a news release Monday, May 11. A contact tracing will be conducted for all positive test results, which is protocol.
William Webb, the health officer for Kent County, said the Kent County Health Department would not disclose additional information about individuals tested in order to safeguard personal health information.
Also, the KCHD will not confirm specific information about any individual case that is identified.
As of Monday, there were 116 confirmed cases of COVID-19 in Kent County and 13 deaths, according to the health department's website.
A drive-through testing clinic at the mushroom farm in Warwick was held Thursday and Friday, May 7 and May 8 for individuals working in the agricultural industry in Kent and Cecil counties and their families. The clinic was a collaborative effort involving the health departments in Kent and Cecil counties, the Cecil County Department of Emergency Services and ChristianaCare Union Hospital in Elkton, according to the news release.
Webb said the clinic was available to anyone who wanted to be tested for the coronavirus that causes COVID-19, not just employees.
Testing was done from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. each day, involving 40 to 50 health care workers and emergency responders and nearly a dozen interpreters on-site, Webb said.
Many of the workers at the mushroom farm and egg producing poultry farms in this area are from the Latinx community, and English is not their first language.
Churches that offer Spanish-speaking services were an important ally in the clinic, Webb said.
He also expressed gratitude to management of the mushroom farm, which he did not identify by name.
"They were exceptionally helpful," Webb said in a telephone interview Friday, May 8. "They allowed us to set up in a parking lot and gave employees time off to be tested."
Webb said the operation of the mushroom farm is much larger than three egg producing poultry farms near the Kent-Cecil border.
Each of the egg farms — one between Millington and Massey in Kent County and two "sister facilities" in the Warwick-Cecilton area, all owned by the same company — has about 30 employees. It's a fluid workforce, Webb said, with "some staff that rotate among the sites."
Webb said the three egg farms and the mushroom farm are within a couple of miles of each other.
In addition to the COVID-19 testing, the May 8-9 clinic included distribution of educational materials about how people can keep themselves safe and prevent the spread of the disease.
"For the most part, these folks don't have primary care physicians and other health care resources," Webb said in last week's phone interview.