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LM Wind employee dies; uncertain if related to COVID-19

LM Wind Power employs about 880 full-time workers in Grand Forks. Photo by John Hageman

An LM Wind Power employee has died, but it is unclear if the death is related to the COVID-19 outbreak at the plant.

In a message sent to employees Wednesday afternoon, the company announced that Jose Gonzalez, who had worked with LM for more than six years, died.

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The Grand Forks-based plant, which is owned by General Electric, produces blades for wind turbines. It has become a focal point in the region for coronavirus cases.


When specifically asked by the Herald if the death is related to COVID-19, a GE spokesperson on Wednesday said that “out of respect for the family’s privacy, and in line with health privacy laws, we will not be sharing any additional information.”

A statement was released on a company site Wednesday afternoon. In it, plant director Jagadish Rao said “We are deeply saddened by the loss of one of our employees. We extend our condolences to the family and friends of our colleague, and have offered to assist the family during this difficult time.”

At least 145 cases of COVID-19 have been tied to the LM Wind Power plant in Grand Forks, according to data from the North Dakota Department of Health. The plant has been closed since April 14, the day the first positive cases were reported.

A GE spokesperson said the company has been in close consultation with state and local officials, and is “working through a careful process of gradually returning to production” at the Grand Forks plant.

“To help ensure employees can return safely to work, we have thoroughly cleaned and disinfected the facility, and expanded our safety protocols, above and beyond CDC guidelines,” the spokesperson said. “Our employees are undergoing on-site training, so they are familiarized with new workplace safety protocols before production begins. We appreciate the dedication of our employees and will continue to support them and prioritize their health and safety as well as that of the community.”

Sydney Mook has been the managing editor at the Herald since April 2021. In her role she edits and assigns stories and helps reporters develop their work for readers.

Mook has been with the Herald since May 2018 and was first hired as the Herald's higher education reporter where she covered UND and other happenings in state higher education. She was later promoted to community editor in 2019.

For story pitches contact her at smook@gfherald.com or call her at 701-780-1134.
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