Champlain Orchards reopens to the public

SHOREHAM — After closing down more than a week ago to manage an outbreak of COVID-19 among its staff, Champlain Orchards is open again for pick-your-own apples.

"It’s been quite a week here at Champlain Orchards, but we’ve all persevered thanks to the love and support we’ve received from you," wrote orchard officials in an email to their customers Saturday morning. "Our staff has completed our third round of testing and we are relieved to report that no additional positive tests have occurred."

The Shoreham orchard, which is owned and operated by Bill Suhr and Andrea Scott, closed abruptly on Oct. 2 after a staff member — one of dozens of migrant workers who had traveled to Vermont from Jamaica on an H-2A visa last month — tested positive for COVID-19. Subsequent testing by the Vermont Department of Health last weekend revealed 27 more positive cases among the orchard's migrant workers.

Suhr and Scott have been working with state health and agriculture officials, as well as local healthcare providers, to care for the affected workers and to prevent further spread of the disease.

Vermont Commissioner of Health Mark Levine said on multiple occasions this week that the outbreak had been contained and there was no risk to the public--either from visiting the orchard or from eating Champlain Orchards apples.

Earlier this week the orchard began soliciting donations on behalf of affected staff. "We are blown away by the outpouring of love and support from the local community," orchard officials wrote Saturday morning, "and just your kind words are a worthy donation to the cause."

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Addison County Independent

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