As the state of Texas opens back up for many businesses, Grayson County’s number of COVID-19 cases continues to rise. Just as the county was announcing four new cases of the virus — bringing the total to 38 — representatives with Ruiz Foods confirmed that three workers at its Denison food production plant have tested positive for Covid-19.


The three positive cases have all occurred since the three-day Easter weekend, a company spokesperson confirmed.


"What’s important to know is Ruiz Foods has been taking extraordinary and proactive measures in our facility since before Covid-19 was identified as a pandemic,“ said Mitch Martin, director of operations for Ruiz Foods Denison. ”We immediately imposed hygiene requirements, and educated our team members to prevent infection. We have implemented temperature screening and mandatory mask wearing.


“We have enhanced our already stringent sanitation processes, and worked to improve physical distancing within the facility to the maximum extent feasible."


The spokesperson said that RUIZ is following guidelines from the CDC, OSHA and other local health agencies and has informed any team member that may have been exposed to someone who has tested positive for the viral infection. Exposed team members are then placed off of work for a minimum of 14 days.


“We have communicated to our Team Members that the effort to mitigate the spread of Covid-19 is a team effort,” the spokesperson said via email. “We work hard to protect each Team Member while they work at Ruiz Foods and we continually remind our Team Members they must practice good washing hygiene and continue to maintain proper socially distancing when outside their home.”


In the case of the newly confirmed patients on Friday, Grayson County Health Department Director Amanda Ortez said three of the newest confirmed cases are from Sherman and one is from Howe. Two of the four cases have no history of travel. One has a history of travel outside of Grayson County and one has a history of travel outside of the state. Three of the four new confirmed cases have had close contact with another confirmed case.


Ruiz, nor GCHD, would confirm if the newest cases were the Ruiz Foods employees.


Ortez said GCHD Public Health Emergency Preparedness team is identifying and contacting individuals who may have been exposed. Any individuals identified as having close contact and having been exposed will be contacted directly by the GCHD.


Anyone who has recently traveled to an area with ongoing spread of COVID-19 or have had contact with someone who has СOVID-19 and has developed fever, dry cough, and shortness of breath within 14 days of your travel, should call their healthcare provider. To prevent potential spread, such individuals are asked to alert their provider before arriving to the provider's office or emergency department.


Ortez said it is still important to practice social distancing and follow the Grayson County Health Department's Isolation/Quarantine Orders.


“For facilities testing patients, when a positive result is received, they must promptly notify the Grayson County Health Department to ensure proper measures can be taken to limit the spread of the disease. The Grayson County Health Department's (GDHD) 24/7 number for doctors to report positive cases to on a 24/7 basis is 903-821-5027. By law all testing must be reported to (GCHD),” she said in the written statement.


Michael Hutchins is the local government reporter for the Herald Democrat. He can be reached at MHutchins@heralddemocrat.com. Jerrie Whiteley is an editor for the Herald Democrat. She can be reached at JWhiteley@heralddemocrat.com.


For more coronavirus related news, visit http://www.HeraldDemocrat.com/coronavirus.