The Town of Creston shared a statement on their Facebook page on Aug. 6, written by the Creston Valley Hospital’s chief of staff, who squashed any rumours about temporary seasonal workers spreading COVID-19 around town.
“Recently, rumours about a COVID-19 outbreak has made the rounds on social media. Many of you have found these rumours convincing, and I’m hoping that this post will help clear up any confusion,” said Dr. Nerine Kleinhans. “As of 8 a.m., Aug. 6, not one seasonal worker in Creston has tested positive for COVID-19.”
Kleinhans praised farmers, the town and the Fields Forward agriculture initiative for their efforts in “keeping not only the workers but also the citizens of Creston safe.”
She did however note that there have been positive COVID-19 cases in Creston in the past six months, but did not specify how many.
“These [numbers] will only be made public if Public Health does not feel confident that they reached all the contacts to ensure a sufficient quarantine period,” she wrote.
In June, the Fields Forward Society provided COVID-19 training for 25 local farmers. Since July, the group has hosted additional training sessions for 15 farms and orchards.
Sessions have been led by Ellen Wasser, the group’s COVID-19 coordinator trainer, who was hired to help prepare and educate farmers, workers, pickers and COVID camp coordinators on how to prevent the virus from spreading.
“Attending the COVID-19 orientation helped me get an overview of the issues and protocols, and Field Forward’s COVID coordinator trainer Ellen Wasser was helpful too,” said Don Low, the owner of Quiet Valley Farms.
“My provincial government inspection of the camp went well, and the inspector said that Creston is far ahead of the Okanagan as far as being prepared for the pickers with COVID-19 protocols in place”
Baldip Smagh of J and B Smagh said that thanks to Wasser’s training, “pickers are listening.”
“Ellen is good. She explained everything, put up signs and helped with the camp set-up,” said Smagh.
Wasser said that pickers have been understanding and co-operative in keeping both orchards and the community safe.
“I have enjoyed working with the farms and farmers during this hard time. They’ve all been welcoming and have gone above and beyond what is required,” said Wasser.
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