Mass testing helps confirm 128 positive COVID-19 cases associated with LM Wind Power
The National Guard led a mass testing site on Thursday after the first several cases were confirmed to be connected to the factory
GRAND FORKS, N.D. — On April 14th, several confirmed cases of COVID-19 found to be linked to LM Wind Power in Grand Forks sparked concern from both local and state health departments.
Two days later, the National Guard led a mass drive-through testing site outside the company’s building for anyone who had come into close contact with those positively-tested individuals.
“426 tests were preformed on Thursday, April 16th,” explained Grand Forks Public Health Director, Debbie Swanson. “99 of those tests were positive and 323 were negative. Four tests were not able to be run. Of those 99 positive, 72 of them are LM employees and 19 are still under investigation.”
In addition, 29 LM-associated cases were also found positive from tests done outside the mass testing site, making the total number of cases connected to the work site 128.
While the response to the initial concern seemed quick, the Mayor’s office did reveal they had been notified from worried employees about a lack of compliance with distancing practices on the job back on March 22nd-23rd.
“On March 24th, 2020, the Mayor’s office advised senior representatives at LM Wind Power of the concerns expressed in the email and was assured that LM Wind Power was taking the necessary precautions in accordance with the CDC recommendations,” Grand Forks Mayor Mike Brown said.
Although they received verbal confirmation, there was no follow up or physical inspection done.
Grand Forks Public Health said that work-place inspections are typically determined by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration, or OSHA, but Mayor Brown did admit his office could have responded better initially.
“We need to ensure that there is compliance with our directives, but in this case I think inspection and enforcement would be the next step,” says Brown. “It would seem that maybe inspection and enforcement may be a gap in the system that we need to address.”
LM Wind Power is closed until further notice and all employees and their families are being asked to self-quarantine for 14 days even if they did not test positive.