Mid-Michigan poultry ranch connected to 91 COVID-19 cases in Ionia, Ingham and Eaton counties

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LANSING, MI (WILX) -- A Mid-Michigan poultry farm, billed as one of the state’s largest egg producers, is connected to 91 cases of COVID-19 in Ionia, Ingham and Eaton counties.

Herbruck’s Poultry Ranch in Saranac, about 40 miles northwest of Lansing, is tied to 53 cases in Ionia County, 32 in Ingham County and six in Eaton County, health officials confirmed Thursday.

Herbruck’s remains open and confirmed in a statement to News 10 that about 70% of the employees who have tested positive for COVID-19 have recovered and have either returned to work or will be eligible to return to work by the end of the week.

In an effort to assist workers and their families, Greg Herbruck, the company’s president, said the ranch has opened a free onsite wellness clinic.

“At Herbruck’s Poultry Ranch, the safety of our employees and customers is our top priority,” Herbruck said in a statement. “We are working in partnership with the (Ionia County) Health Department and we have continued to proactively test employees for COVID-19. Most employees who have tested positive have been asymptomatic or showed very mild symptoms, if any, and have recovered at home.”

Ionia County Health Department Officer Ken Bowen said Thursday that 18 of the 53 Ionia County cases tied to Herbruck’s are from a contractor the ranch used.

Bowen said Herbruck’s has been “ very cooperative” with his department and has taken these steps to make the workplace safer for employees:
• Increased environmental cleaning.
• Testing of all workplace contacts of employees with positive cases.
• Pre-employment screening for COVID-19 for new hires.
• A 10-day partial shutdown of the ranch.

Greg Herbruck said the vast majority of positive cases originate from “an isolated group of employees from our night shift bird crew.” He said the ranch is taking “proactive, preventative measures” that include personal protection equipment for employees, rigorous sanitation practices and limited access to worksites for outside vendors.

Of the 32 cases reported in Ingham County, 27 involve Herbruck’s employees who live in the county, said Amanda Darche, an Ingham County Health Department spokesperson.

Herbruck’s celebrated its 60 anniversary in 2018 and billed itself online at that time as Michigan’s largest egg producer. According to its website, Herbruck’s was the 10th largest egg producer in the U.S. in 2018 with more than 10 million hens and nearly three billion eggs produced annually.

Anne Barna, a Barry-Eaton District Health Department spokesperson, said there is one Eaton County case connected to a poultry farm in Middleville, Mich., about 30 miles southeast of Grand Rapids.

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