The Barron County Health Department is urging residents to stop unnecessary travel and avoid all gatherings following a dramatic surge of new cases of COVID-19. More than 150 new cases have been reported since mid-July, nearly half of which occurred at a food processing plant.

In the past two weeks, the number of people testing positive for COVID-19 has increased by more than 162 percent according to data from the Barron County Department of Health and Human Services. A press release issued by the department Wednesday reported 150 new cases across the county including a cluster at a processing facility in the city of Cumberland owned by Seneca Foods, though it did not specify how many employees had gotten sick. DHS data for Barron County showed 79 total positives on July 16. On Thursday, the agency reported 207 cases in the county.

Matt Henschler, Seneca Foods senior vice president of technical services, was quoted in the county announcement as saying the company is taking a "united approach" in identifying people who have tested positive or are symptomatic.

"Individuals are being isolated and monitored until cleared to resume activity," said Henschler. "CDC guidelines regarding the preparation and management for COVID-19 are being followed."

Henschler did not respond to an interview request for this story.

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