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Pennsylvania's food supply chain workers eligible for priority testing

Patrick DeLany
York Dispatch
“Our seasonal workers are sometimes forgotten by consumers, but their skills are vital in the commonwealth,” Agriculture Secretary Russell Redding said Tuesday at a news conference.

HARRISBURG – Workers supporting the food supply chain in some areas of eastern Pennsylvania will be eligible for priority COVID-19 testing at two sites, state officials said Saturday.

The policy applies to workers ranging from farmers and seasonal laborers to food processing facility and warehouse workers, as well as grocery store employees who live or work in Montgomery, Susquehanna, Wyoming, Luzerne, Carbon, Monroe, Pike, Wayne, and Lackawanna counties, the state agriculture department said.

Adults with symptoms who work in agriculture or food supply and live or work in the affected counties will be able to get priority testing at the Montgomery County mass testing site or the federally funded site at the Mohegan Sun in Luzerne County.

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The testing comes at no cost as tests are run through Pennsylvania’s public laboratory system.

Officials cited the designation of agriculture and the entire food supply chain as life sustaining, combined with coronavirus hot spots in Montgomery County and northeastern Pennsylvania, where many of Pennsylvania’s food processing facilities are located.

State health officials say a total of 1,537 deaths associated with the coronavirus have occurred in Pennsylvania.

The department Saturday confirmed an additional 1,397 positive cases of COVID-19, bringing the statewide total to more than 40,000. The number of infections is thought to be far higher because many people have not been tested, and studies suggest people can be infected with the virus without feeling sick.

For most people, the virus causes mild or moderate symptoms that clear up in a couple of weeks. Older adults and people with existing health problems are at higher risk of more severe illness, including pneumonia, or death.