I am not saying the large number of African refugees working at a wind turbine plant brought any virus to North Dakota, but I think you can see the problem brewing in large plants that employ immigrants many of whom do not speak English and live in close-knit immigrant enclaves.
From an AP story posted at the Stamford Advocate:
Testing held near North Dakota plant while virus cases climb
FARGO, N.D. (AP) — Health officials and National Guard members spent Thursday afternoon screening people for the coronavirus after eight positive tests were confirmed among workers at a North Dakota wind turbine plant that employs a large number of immigrants from African countries.
The drive-thru screenings outside the LM Wind Power in Grand Forks took place on a day when state officials reported a record number of new coronavirus cases for the second consecutive day. A total of 52 cases were confirmed in the last two days, including 28 on Thursday.
Cars were lined up in four lanes outside the LM plant, where officials administered 424 tests in five hours to people who may have come in close contact with the infected workers, said John Bernstrom, spokesman for the city of Grand Forks.
Shirley Dykshoorn, vice president at Lutheran Social Services in Fargo, the state’s refugee resettlement agency, said many of the employees are immigrants or former refugees who have worked at the plant for some time.
“Most of them have good English skills,” Dykshoorn said. “Maybe not as many in their family understand everything so we’ve tried to support them and help them with what they need going forward.”
Dr. Paul Carson, a public health and infectious disease specialist at North Dakota State University and adviser to the governor’s COVID-19 team, said he’s not surprised to see several cases pop up in a large plant. He said it’s important to aggressively pursue people who came in close contact with those who are infected.
“We’re going to find these little flare-ups and I think we should accept them. What we need to able to do is jump on them and try to prevent them from going any further,” Carson said. “We want to avoid what happened with the meat packing plant down in Sioux Falls, South Dakota.”
I had planned to post Neil Munro’s piece at Breitbart from a few days ago about problems in the meatpacking industry with the spread of the virus. See it here.
Over half of the more than 1,300 cases in South Dakota have been tied to an outbreak at a Smithfield pork processing plant in Sioux Falls.
The plant is one of the largest known clusters of COVID-19 cases in the country. A total of 598 employees have confirmed infections, plus 135 of their close contacts.
Sigh! Giant global corporations with a voracious appetite for immigrant labor changing the heartland one town at a time.
I’ve been writing about North Dakota for years and it was one of the states I visited during my 2016 road trip through the Midwest and West to see the impact of refugee labor on communities throughout middle America. See my North Dakota archive.