SUNLAND PARK — Several dozen workers at a meat processing plant in Southern New Mexico have tested positive for the novel coronavirus as state health officials plan another round of testing at the facility.

The New Mexico Department of Health on Thursday announced that 57 cases of the virus have been identified at Stampede Meat in Sunland Park. The agency conducted two rounds of testing at the plant over two weeks this month at the invitation of the company, taking samples from every employee. The Las Cruces Sun-News reported that a third round of testing is expected next week.

The employees who tested positive were reported to be self-isolating, and health officials said they’ve been working with the company on protocols for disinfecting the facility and providing personal protective equipment to staff.

Illinois-based Stampede Meat opened the plant in the former Tyson Foods location in 2018. It began operations with 300 employees with plans to expand to a workforce of nearly 1,300 by 2024.

Stampede CEO Brock Furlong said in a statement that the company in early March adopted more safety measures to limit spread and continues to add initiatives based on federal guidelines and recommendations. The first case at the plant was reported in early May.

Stampede said its processing facilities are cleaned and sanitized daily, with high-touch areas sanitized every half-hour. Employees and visitors are screened and have their temperatures taken before entering. Employees also are instructed to wear layered protection including face masks, neck warmers and face shields.

According to Stampede, 7.5 percent of the plant’s employees tested positive in the first round. Of those, most were reportedly asymptomatic. The company said 90 percent of the people with those first cases have recovered.

In the second round, less than 5 percent of the staff tested positive. The company said those workers were still recovering and would be retested and cleared by a medical professional before returning to work.

For copyright information, check with the distributor of this item, Las Cruces Sun-News.

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