Dr. Bret Marsh, Indiana State Veterinarian, says a key question they continue to get is what happens if an employee in one of our many agribusinesses in Indiana tests positive for COVID-19?
“There are pretty specific instructions from CDC about what to do with the positive individual, but then we’re getting questions about what to do with the other workers in that environment. Coworkers, colleagues, etcetera.”
Marsh told HAT that the CDC does allow employees who have been in contact with a co-worker who has tested positive to continue work if they are asymptomatic, but they are working with the Indiana State Department of Health to define that more clearly.
“Certainly, we don’t want to close these critical infrastructure facilities, whether it’s dairy or meat processing or any of a number of agribusinesses out here, but we’re seeking those answers and our colleagues in public health are working hard to find that answer.”
Marsh says that while they are watching the science around this virus closely, all indications are that animals, pets or livestock, do not get ill from COVID-19 and they are not spreaders of the virus.
“We also, therefore, do not have a food safety risk associated with meat products. That’s been a distinct advantage for us, and so we focus on the employee side, whether you’re in ag production, milking cows, feeding swine, or whatever it might be, to make sure we continue to support them.”
The conference was hosted by Marsh and his staff at the Indiana Board of Animal Health as well as Indiana State Department of Agriculture Director Bruce Kettler. You can see the recorded web conference here. Marsh’s intention is to continue with these calls weekly to help answer questions from the ag community.